The Mi'kmaq community of Listuguj in the Gaspé has accused the Government of Canada of systemic racism because it has not obtained the right to sell the lobster it intends to catch this fall.
Listuguj fishermen started their fall season this Sunday, September 20, when the regular season has just ended. The Indigenous community is counting on income from the sale of lobster to boost their economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All we want to do is sell some of the lobster that we would otherwise eat to offset the operating costs of our fishery and support our community,” said Sky Metallic, Listuguj government advisor.
Mi'kmaq fishermen have had the right to sell their lobsters year round since a ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court some 20 years ago. However, according to Reserve Chief Darcy Gray, the federal government never lived up to its share of the pledge.
For several years, the community has been negotiating with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to obtain a permit authorizing the sale of lobster during the fall.
This statement echoes the clashes of recent days in Nova Scotia between the Mi'kmaq fishermen of Sipekne'katik and the non-Aboriginal fishermen. For them, native fishing in the fall is an illegal activity.
The Sierra Club Canada environmental association supported the Mi'kmaq community on this issue. It calls for immediate action from the federal government.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not respond to our request for their version of the facts.