Indigenous leaders in Manitoba are showing support for Mi’kmaw lobster fishers with a horse spirit ride planned in Winnipeg on Wednesday.
Leaders representing the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Southern Chiefs Organization, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, and the Manitoba Metis Federation will all take part in the ride starting at RCMP Headquarters on Portage Avenue at 1 p.m.
Global News will stream the event live in this story.
“We are collectively calling on the federal government and the RCMP to put an immediate end to any more acts of domestic terrorism and violence towards our Mi’kmaw Relatives,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, in a release.
“The Mi’kmaq have the right to earn a livelihood from fishing and they have had the right to harvest since the first sun rise. Even the highest judicial body in Canada agrees with that determination, and it is time once and for all to end economic apartheid.”
In southwestern Nova Scotia, additional RCMP were recently deployed to respond to the at-times violent dispute that began last month when the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched a small-scale commercial fishery outside of the federally designated season.
The Mi’kmaq are asserting a treaty right that they say allows them to fish when and where they want.
The Indigenous fishers have had traps removed from the water, a fishing boat and a van have been burned, and on Saturday, fire destroyed a lobster pound that stored the catch of Mi’kmaw fishers.
Some non-Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia have staged protests to highlight the fact that even though the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood in 1999, the court also said the Fisheries Department retains the right to regulate for conservation purposes.
The escalating violence also prompted a show of solidarity in Halifax on Sunday, where hundreds of people gathered at Grand Parade Square to show support for Mi’kmaw fishers.
Wednesday’s actions in Winnipeg will see those taking part in the spirit ride head east on Portage Avenue to the Manitoba Legislative Building, where speakers are scheduled to speak starting at 2 p.m.
Organizers said the ceremonial ride would not be open to the public in the interest of reducing the potential spread of COVID-19, but the public was invited to listen to the speakers providing they wear masks and follow physical distancing rules.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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