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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Aboriginal fishing rights

More on native fishing rights (by way of Canadian Legal History). The latest Canadian Historical Review has an article by James Kenny and Bill Parenteau, "'Each year the Indians flexed their muscles a little more': The Maliseet Defence of Aboriginal Fishing Rights on the St. John River, 1945–1990". The abstract:
As in the rest of Canada in the postwar period, Aboriginal resistance to state fishing regulations in New Brunswick intensified. This article explores the conflict between Maliseet, commercial and sports fishers, and the state on the Kingsclear Reserve on the St. John River between 1945 and 1990. While the province's Aboriginal population had long asserted their fishing rights on the basis of eighteenth-century treaties, the modern struggle reflected the new challenges of the modernization era when water pollution, over-fishing by an industrial offshore fishery, and construction of hydroelectric dams reduced the river's Atlantic salmon population. Encouraged by an influential angling lobby, state authorities attempted to restrict Aboriginal fishing, especially at Kingsclear, located at the foot of the Mactaquac dam. As they had in the past, the Maliseet resisted enforcement of fisheries regulations, but a new generation of leaders, working closely with other Canadian Aboriginal organizations, also challenged the state in the courts and media. Faced with growing opposition both locally and nationally, and a judiciary increasingly sensitive to Aboriginal issues, federal enforcement declined, setting the stage for a negotiated settlement with the province. This study also shows that Maritime First Nations were active participants in the national wave of Aboriginal resistance and militancy during the 1970s and 1980s.
Photo from the Daily Gleaner
Daily Gleaner

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