Support for Indigenous Fishery – October 2020

 

 October 21, 2020 

Statement of Support 

The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers stands in support and solidarity with the Mi’kmaq peoples, as they assert their recognized treaty right to fish. 

We interpret the current controversy occurring in Saint Mary’s Bay, NS over the Mi’kmaq right to fish as a visible sign that racism, thinly veiled as concern for conservation of lobster stocks, is alive and well in Nova Scotia. 

As an advocacy group representing faculty unions that are committed to justice and to peaceful and respectful negotiations to attain fair decisions for both sides in any dispute, we also advocate for peaceful negotiations and fairness in all sectors – including fishery. Therefore, we strongly deplore the use of violence to prevent Mi’kmaq fishers from harvesting their catch and we call on the RCMP to protect the lives and property of all involved in this dispute, including the lives and property of First Nations peoples. 

We call on the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, to ensure Mi’kmaq fishers are protected while they pursue their legal right to fish. 

We call on federal fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to work quickly and transparently with both the Indigenous and commercial fisheries to find a resolution that respects the rights of all fishers and includes conservation measures to protect and preserve our oceans. 

We call on Nova Scotian’s from all sectors to stand with the Mi’kmaq, as they assert their treaty rights, one sector at a time. 

ANSUT 


October 21, 2020 

Opinion 

As with many organizations, it has become routine for members of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT) to begin meetings by acknowledging that we meet on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. But to read this acknowledgement, without also voicing our support for our First Nations neighbours in more tangible ways, would be disingenuous. 

Currently, the controversy occurring in Saint Mary’s Bay, NS over the Mi’kmaq’s right to a fishery is a visible sign that racism, thinly veiled as concern for conservation of lobster stocks, is alive and well in Nova Scotia. 

Some may ask what has the Indigenous fishery to do with university teachers? ANSUT is an advocacy group representing faculty unions that are committed to social justice and to peaceful and respectful negotiations to attain fair decisions for both sides in any dispute. As such, we advocate for peaceful negotiations and fairness in all sectors – be it health care (Joyce Echaquan), policing (Chantel Moore), the fishery, or the many examples that do not make the news. 

As beacons of academic freedom, university faculty often engage in critical research and teaching, which can include raising uncomfortable and potentially offensive positions. But it also implies a commitment to look fairly at multiple points of view, and to work through conflict towards resolution, something the federal government has failed to do for the Indigenous fishery for over 20 years. 

We acknowledge that our own house is not in order. Racism and inequity in post-secondary education exists. Statistics released this week by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) indicate that although Indigenous peoples make up 4.9% of Canada’s population, only 1.4% currently teach in our universities. Those who are hired are paid an average of 26+% less than their white, male counterparts. Many other barriers exist, and we must continue to work hard to remove them for students, staff and faculty. 

ANSUT members stand in support and solidarity with the Mi’kmaq peoples, as they assert their recognized treaty right to fish. 

We call on the RCMP to protect the lives and property of all involved in this dispute, including the lives and property of First Nations peoples. 

We call on the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, to ensure Mi’kmaq fishers are protected while they pursue their legal right to fish.

We call on federal fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to work quickly and transparently to find a resolution that respects and protects the treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq and the Marshall decision. 

Finally, we call on Nova Scotian’s from all sectors to stand with the Mi’kmaq, as they assert their treaty rights, one sector at a time. 

In solidarity, 

Dr. Scott Stewart President, ANSUT 

Dr. Scott Stewart, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Cape Breton University. He is president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), which represents 1,400 faculty and academic staff at 8 universities in Nova Scotia. 

Contact: scott_stewart@cbu.ca