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Treaties and Land Claims

P.E.I.-based Abegweit First Nation signs 5-year fisheries deal with Ottawa

April 14, 2023

First Nation also receiving DFO funding to restore habitat for Atlantic salmon and eel 

CBC News · Posted: Apr 14, 2023 10:19 AM EDT | Last Updated: 10 minutes ago

Chief Roddy Gould in traditional headdress
This agreement is really about the children of Abegweit First Nation, says Chief Roddy Gould Jr. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

CBC News: Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray was on Prince Edward Island Friday to sign a deal with Abegweit First Nation Chief Roddy Gould Jr., affirming the band’s right to participate in a moderate livelihood fishery.

The agreement recognizes the right of Indigenous communities to fish as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 199, in what is known as the Marshall decision.

The five-year renewable agreement includes

  • Recognizing Mi’kmaq Indigenous treaty rights to harvest and sell fish.
  • Funding for Abegweit First Nation to strengthen its capacity for fisheries management.
  • Establishing joint structures and processes for a collaborative fisheries management approach.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Gould said the agreement lays the groundwork to ensure the coming generation will have more opportunities than his generation did. “It’s our children. What we are doing today is we are giving them the power and the tools to do better than we have done,” said Gould. “That’s the future.”

Gould talked about the controversial fishery of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, which generated conflict between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. He said witnessing that convinced him there was a better way. “We decided as a community to be a productive part of the industry, to go in a positive way forward,” he said.

“We will be working in partnership with the federal government as we continue to move towards the implementation of our moderate livelihood fisheries.”

In a separate announcement, Murray said the government would provide $1.47 million over the next four years to the Abegweit Conservation Society to manage threats to Atlantic salmon and American eel on the Island.

These are two culturally important features for the Mi’kmaq, and the society will apply both western science and Indigenous knowledge in an ecosystem-based approach to the problems facing these species.

Kevin Yarr · Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I.