TORONTO — The United Steelworkers union (USW) calls on the federal government to find a resolution to the Nova Scotia lobster fisheries dispute that respects Indigenous treaty rights and ensures community safety.
“The federal government cannot stand by as tensions and violence escalate. Our union condemns the violence and racist attacks instigated by commercial fishers over Indigenous fishing rights in Nova Scotia,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
The recent raids on Indigenous fishing facilities is a direct assault on the Mi’kmaw people that reflects the racist legacy of colonialism. Acts of violence including the burning of boats and vehicles the destruction of facilities, physical and verbal assaults, threats and intimidation must end before there is loss of life.
“As Steelworkers, we add our voices to the calls for immediate action by the federal government to resolve the dispute. Resolution must respect Indigenous treaty rights and the 1999 Supreme Court decision that protects Indigenous rights to a year-round food fishery,” said Marty Warren, USW Atlantic Director (District 6).
“Our union stands against racism in all its forms. Systemic racism exists in Canada and this dispute shows how harmful and divisive racism can be. We need education, understanding and clear laws. We need healing and respect so the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities can live harmoniously with dignity and respect, without fear for their safety,” said Neumann.
“Our union and the labour movement are grounded in the values of solidarity and social justice. We urge the government and those involved to find a way to come together peacefully and respectfully to resolve this dispute, end the violence and uphold Indigenous treaty rights,” said Warren.
The USW Statement of Principles on Aboriginal Issues, adopted at our union’s 2016 National Policy Conference, states “The United Steelworkers supports reconciliation and socio-economic justice based on Aboriginal rights, honouring treaties and meeting the principles and standards of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ‘Recognize, Accept, and Support’ are key concepts that will guide our union’s engagement on Aboriginal issues.
Read the USW Statement of Principles on Aboriginal Issues here: https://www.usw.ca/act/activism/human-rights/resources/statement-of-principles-aboriginal-issues