Statement by the President of the SANB: "Acadians must denounce the violence against Mi'kmaq fishers".

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For several weeks now, the Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) has been observing with great concern the fisheries crisis currently unfolding in southwestern Nova Scotia, notably in the Acadian regions of Saint Marys Bay and Par-en-Bas.

Although this issue is of provincial and even national scope, it is important to analyze the role played by our francophone communities in the current crisis, in the hopes of identifying equitable solutions that respect Indigenous Rights, the sustainability of the resource, and the economic development of our Acadian regions, which are heavily dependent on the fishing industry.

That being said, as President of the SANB, I have a moral obligation to denounce in the strongest possible terms the incidents of violence and intimidation that occurred earlier this week in West Pubnico, and all other acts of violence perpetrated against the Mi'kmaq community throughout the region in recent weeks.

In many ways, this conflict is the result of a policy of inaction on the part of the federal and provincial governments since the Marshall decision was enacted twenty years ago. Born in a rural and coastal community myself, I understand the frustrations of the communities involved in regard to the uncertainty generated by this blatant lack of government leadership. After all, the fishery in question is an important livelihood for many and the backbone of the region's economy.

However, let's not be naïve: anti-indigenous racism is a contributing factor in the worrying escalation of the current situation. As Acadians - and as human beings - we must all denounce the violence against Mi'kmaq fishers and Indigenous communities in the Atlantic Provinces if we hope to reach a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.

Although the current situation is very complex, violence is never the solution. L'Acadie, as a nation historically allied with the Mi'kmaq, has a moral and historical obligation to recognize this relationship, and to act accordingly, with respect and understanding for the difficulties that Indigenous peoples have faced for centuries. As a minority with its own turbulent history, Acadians must recognize the importance of the Mi'kmaq's struggle to assert their constitutional rights and their fight for the preservation of their language and culture. We may not agree on everything, but first and foremost, we must call out and stop the violence against First Nations fishers before the situation can be resolved.

In closing, I urge the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Honourable Minister of Fisheries, Bernadette Jordan, to make their way to the region, to bring the different stakeholders together and hopefully calm tensions to reach an equitable solution for all. The apparent inaction of the Prime Minister's Office on this file so far shows a total lack of leadership on the part of the federal government that betrays its values regarding reconciliation and the development of our minority official language communities.

In solidarity,

Alexandre Cédric Doucet, President

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