It is long settled in Canadian law that the federal government owes a fiduciary duty to the indigenous peoples of lands now governed by Canada. The meaning of fiduciary duty changes with the specific nature of the relationship between the person owing the duty and the beneficiaries of that duty, but in the context of Canada’s federal government and the indigenous peoples of Canadian land, whether it’s permitting the exercise of treaty rights or engaging in so-called “meaningful consultation” or other duties, Canada’s actions have been far more in breach of those duties than they have been consistent with them.
Nonetheless, one specialist finds the particular lack of care with respect to M’kmaw fishing rights and physical safety to be noteworthy even among all those other violations we might list. The analysis of Adam Bond:
Hundreds of non-Indigenous ruffians grouped together on Tuesday night to swarm Mi’kmaw fishers and destroy their property with the obvious political intent of stopping them from exercising their constitutionally protected rights.
To be clear, the actions of these gangs were intended to terrorize the Mi’kmaw people and deliberately flout the law.
Despite these criminal actions, and in complete disregard for the fiduciary duty owed by the Crown to Indigenous Peoples, the RCMP’s response has been muted at best.
Should the roles have been reversed, I strongly suspect the response from law enforcement would have been significantly different. I cannot envision the RCMP standing calmly by as an angry mob of Indigenous people destroyed property, burned vehicles and threatened violence.
When the Mohawks erected barricades to protect their lands from the encroachment of a golf course in Oka in 1990, the state responded with heavily armed police and 800 soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces.
When the Chippewas of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation sought to reclaim their lands unlawfully taken by the federal government, heavily armed OPP officers responded with deadly force on Sept. 6, 1995, killing the unarmed rights activist, Dudley George.
When Wet’suwet’en defenders set up camps to protect their lands from industrial development, the RCMP responded with armed raids and mass arrests.
The people attacking the Mi’kmaq are victimizing members of one of the most marginalized and oppressed groups in Canadian society. They are terrorizing First Nations fishers who are eking out a moderate livelihood to support their families and communities, and the many Indigenous women who fill pivotal roles in fisheries-related activities. And yet law enforcement has done little to stand in their way.
Please go to the original & read the full article. I’ve excerpted a rather large fraction of it, so it shouldn’t take you too much longer to read the rest.
Yet another appalling chapter in the story of this country’s treatment of indigenous peoples. there is no excuse for the police and government’s complete disregard for the safety and well-being of people it is their sworn duty to protect!
Thanks for covering this story.
It’s outrageous that the situation has been allowed to get this bad. I’m appalled at how the Canadian government has dealt with this. ardipithecus is right – it is another apalling chapter in our treatment of indigenous rights.