A Statement from the CBAC Indigenous Relations Working Group

In response to the escalating situation with Sipekne’katik First Nation and commercial fishing communities:

We affirm that the present conflict stems from the fact that settlers (especially our governments) have broken and continue to break our region’s Peace and Friendship Treaties that call us to live together with the Indigenous peoples on this land as mutual and rightful nations, together caring for and sharing this land’s resources (including marine life).

We affirm the intent and implementation of the Marshall decision, which recognize the sovereignty of First Nations and their rights, and we call on details of this to be ratified nation to nation in alignment with the Peace and Friendship treaties and within the framework of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

We recognize the legitimate frustrations and concerns that Indigenous and commercial fishermen are experiencing.  These cannot all be dismissed as greed or racism or similar judgements.

We recognize the complexities of historic and present realities facing these groups, their families, their leaders and the resources they are responsible for.

We affirm the desire of both Indigenous and commercial fishermen to manage and maintain our Creator’s ocean resources and to also provide a good living for their families.

We denounce the use of intimidation, destruction of property and violence and call for it to be stopped immediately.

We believe relationships and reconciliation are the way forward.

We call for both groups and especially their appointed leaders to engage in respectful and peaceful dialogue in which they listen to and learn from one another and make steps towards framing a fishery that will work for all nations on this land.

We believe fishermen from both sides have the necessary knowledge and commitments to creatively resolve this issue and produce a positive resolution.

Both sides have asked for the Government of Canada (especially the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) to respond in a way that recognizes the legitimacy of frustrations and the seriousness of the tension on the water and promotes mutual respect and transparency.  We repeat this call.

We call on the settler and Indigenous communities to refrain from making assumptions and taking sides based on race or solely on simplistic and one-sided sources of information.  We must beware of the danger of the single story.  We are all treaty people – all in this together.

We call for peacemakers who may be misunderstood and maligned by their own people but who will be called children of the Creator as they work for God’s abundant shalom for all.

We call on people and our CBAC churches to pray for wisdom and patience for leaders and participants and to pray for a peaceful and just resolution.  This flashpoint is rooted in powers that have controlled Indigenous and settler relations for generations and pitted people against one another. May these be broken and may this conflict establish precedents of new ways of relating well.