TORONTO, October 4, 1999 - The RCMP must crack down on individuals who are destroying native fishing lines and perpetrating violence against Aboriginal peoples in New Brunswick, the executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation said today.
"This situation will spiral out of control unless law enforcement authorities take swift and decisive action to protect Aboriginal fishers," says Moy Tam. "The RCMP must not allow these vigilante actions to go unpunished."
On September 17, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a 1760 treaty allows the Mi'kmaq to earn a moderate livelihood from hunting, fishing and gathering.
Tam says the federal government has a fiduciary duty to protect the treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples, particularly when the Supreme Court has upheld such rights. She adds that federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal must intervene immediately to defuse the conflict.
"The hands-off approach of the federal government is exacerbating tensions in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I am calling on Mr. Dhaliwal to meet immediately with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community leaders to determine if a compromise can be reached."
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (www.crr.ca) opened its doors in November, 1997. It operates at arm's length from the federal government and works at the forefront of efforts to combat racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canada.
The Foundation has established a Taskforce on Aboriginal Issues that will report to the Foundation's board of directors later this month. The taskforce is providing advice and recommendations on appropriate roles for the Foundation with respect to issues facing Aboriginal peoples in Canada.