ST. JOHN’S — A Newfoundland First Nation has dropped its legal challenge of the federal government’s controversial decision to award a lucrative fishing licence to an Indigenous partnership in Atlantic Canada, saying government documents prove the licence was granted fairly.
The move is an about-face for the Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi First Nation, which has been a vocal critic of a decision that has raised the ire of Indigenous groups, the Newfoundland government and the federal Conservatives and has led to a federal ethics watchdog investigation.
Shayne McDonald, legal counsel for the First Nation, said the community’s case hinged on its understanding that the Five Nations Clam Company, which won the new Arctic surf clam licence in collaboration with Nova Scotia-based Premium Seafoods, had not met the government’s requirement that the winning bidder should be a partnership of multiple Indigenous communities. Five Nations, a new entity headed by Chief Aaron Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, only announced its partners in March, after it won the licence. Federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc also admitted that Five Nations had “reserved spots in their proposal” for Indigenous partners from all the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.
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