Membertou First Nation fishing boat damaged in fire

CTV News Atlantic reports: There is outrage in the First Nations community and beyond after a fishing boat belonging to Membertou First Nation was burned overnight in Sydney Harbour, in an act of suspected vandalism.

Representatives from the Membertou First Nation confirm that they learned early Saturday morning that the fishing boat Membertou II was engulfed in flames.

“I got a call this morning, that the boat was burned last night,” says Membertou II captain John Paul, who is also the son of Membertou Chief Terry Paul.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., representatives from Membertou were informed that the boat, which was located at the Dobson Yacht Club in Westmount, N.S. was on fire.

“Sad and disappointed. We’re trying to work our way into a position where we can use our 1752 Treaty Rights to fish for a moderate livelihood,” says Paul.

Membertou was celebrating those treaty rights less than a month ago. September 17 marked the 20th anniversary of Donald Marshall Jr’s landmark court victory for Mi’Kmaq fishing rights.

“Our community has a food fishery, and we also have the right to a moderate livelihood within the fishing resources,” said Membertou Chief Terry Paul in a statement. “Our entire community was disappointed to learn about the fire last night aboard the Membertou II, but as always, we will keep fishing.”

The boat sustained significant damage and the fire is now under investigation with the Cape Breton Regional Police Service.

As police investigate, Chief Paul is condemning the act and says it’s not the first act of vandalism against these Mi’kmaq fishermen.

In a statement, representatives from Membertou say they have been experiencing issues with vandalism since September.

According to the statement, 100 lobster traps belonging to Membertou were cut in September, leading to a loss of $10,000 to the community.

“The boys were only out there fishing for food,” says Membertou resident George Woodberry. “As many steps forward as we take as a people, there’s always somebody that’s gonna bring us back and try to knock us down.”

John Paul says he only started docking at the location a few days ago. He believes resentment to the First Nations fishery runs deep in some circles.

“Shocked, just shocked. The ignorance is unbelievable,” says Paul.

Representatives from Membertou say they are working with police in the ongoing investigation, and are committed to ensuring that acts of vandalism do not continue.

Source: CTV News Atlantic

2 Replies to “Membertou First Nation fishing boat damaged in fire”

  1. Violence is never the way and property damage is a disgraceful way to act. That being said this is a modern world, separate rules(or no rules) for indigenous (or first immigrants as no one is actually native to Canada and there is no one “indigenous” people) is not sustainable or fair when using modern fishing equipment. Natives are no longer using canoes and home made nets to fish, they don’t hunt with spears and bows and arrows. Reserves close to urban centers have access to all the amenities. Why do we pretend that they live like they did a couple of years before we arrived. Time to end this difference between peoples, who came first is irrelevant in the current time frame – if you are born here in Canada today you are a Canadian regardless of when your ancestors arrived and the resources belong to all Canadians and should be shared equally. Separate nations within a nation is a ridiculous concept and government should have the courage to end this stupidity based on guilt for the past. It doesn’t do anyone any good, you have a government handout dependent” native” population and a resentful Canadian taxpayer. Telling me to go back to Europe is the same as telling any tribe to return to Asia where they originate – irrelevant I was born here and all should have the same rights, rules and obligations. Trudeau and his reconciliation is just making matters worse.

    1. Excellent response, Lusox! I most certainly agree!

      “Violence is never the way and property damage is a disgraceful way to act”. As we all know diplomacy and tactfulness has it’s benefits in any disagreement. The facts as you laid out Lusox may be a bitter pill to swallow for many on one end of the argument, but it is the absolute truth nonetheless. Personal and or self interest access of this resource, is definitely not a one way street as so many would have us believe.

      As Lusox so eloquently stated, “Separate nations within a nation is a ridiculous concept and government should have the courage to end this stupidity based on guilt for the past”. In a similar sense, I would tend to rationalize the issue in this context, “There is no unity in diversity”.

      I was always taught that you do not give favour to one, unless you can afford to give it to all. Otherwise as Lusox again stipulates, “Separate nations within a nation is a ridiculous concept and government should have the courage to end this stupidity based on guilt for the past. It doesn’t do anyone any good, you have a government handout dependent” native” population and a resentful Canadian taxpayer.”

      Yes, we are all Canadians and all should have the same rights, rules and obligations. “Trudeau and his reconciliation is just making matters worse.” Living in the past is a haunting experience, rife with old ideals and resentful spectres that do nothing but hinder progress.

      Is it any wonder why this “self interest group guilt complex” the government of this nation has foolishly developed, results in a manipulative and resentful weapon of war, rather than levelling the playing field and giving everyone a fair chance heading into the future.

      Let me put it this way. I can trace my ancestry at least back to a man widely considered to be the first Canadian apothecary as well as the first European to farm in Canada. Yes, I am speaking of my Great-Great-Great-Grand Father, Louis Hébert (c. 1575 – 25 January 1627). More recently to my third cousins, “The Dionne Quintuplets” born May 28, 1934.

      Now, I could arrogantly argue that I should be afforded some sort of prominent position when it comes to getting my share of the bounty here in Canada, but that would not only be self-serving and full of poppycock, but disgustingly selfish. I am no better and no worse than anyone else in this great nation….That goes for everyone!!

      Finally, I would like to emphasize very profoundly as did Lusox and please take this to heart…

      It is time to end this difference between peoples, who came first is irrelevant in the current time frame – if you are born here in Canada today you are a Canadian regardless of when your ancestors arrived and the resources belong to all Canadians and should be shared equally.”

      END OF ARGUEMENT !!

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