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Mi’kmaw fishers face fresh racist harassment from feds

John Bell

April 16, 2021

Robert Syliboy is a Mi’kmaw crab fisher who was harvesting snow crabs for a community celebration. To do so is his treaty right, upheld by multiple levels of the courts under the 1984 “Sparrow Decision”. This ruling recognized Indigenous rights to hunt or fish for food outside of regulated seasons.

But officials from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries continued their practice of harassing Indigenous fishers, seen in their recent passive support for Maritime commercial lobster fishers who attacked Indigenous boats, traps, trucks and burned a lobster pound to the ground.

Although he had given DoOF officials prior warning about the purpose of his fishing, they stopped the boat he was using and confiscated his traps.

It is telling that Syliboy was never charged with any violation. The act was racist harassment, pure and simple.

“This is very different from the Marshall Decision, this is not for profit, to feed our people,” Syliboy told APTN.

In an interesting twist, the boat Syliboy was using belongs to an Acadian fisher who supports the Indigenous fishery and has been mentoring Syliboy in the skills of crab fishing. Captain Allan Corporon admits he is often the target of racist taunts from other commercial fishers. “Not as bad as the natives have. People call us names. But I just walk away and ignore it.”

Syliboy plans to go out again. “I promised the community a feed so I am a man of my word, I’m going back out, but I guess it’s back to the drawing board right now.”







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