Allister Surette, Federal Special Representative will begin immediate consultation with Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq people and commercial fishers
Ottawa – Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries and Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced the appointment of Allister Surette as Federal Special Representative, a neutral third-party who will communicate with and rebuild trust between commercial and Indigenous fishers.
Surette will gather the different perspectives on the issues, seek to build understanding, and make recommendations to the Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as well as to the public, so parties can move forward toward a positive resolution.
The Federal Special Representative will begin his work immediately. His initial priority will be to meet with Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq and commercial sector leaders and harvesters to listen to concerns, communicate information, and foster dialogue with the objective of decreasing tensions and preventing further escalation of this conflict.
In the coming weeks and months, the Federal Special Representative will meet with commercial leaders and harvesters in other parts of Atlantic Canada, Indigenous leaders in Nova Scotia and in other parts of Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé region of Quebec, provincial governments, and others as appropriate.
“It is with great humility and enthusiasm that I begin my work as Federal Special Representative. I will be listening carefully to the concerns of the treaty nations whose rights were affirmed in the Marshall decisions, as well as stakeholders in the fisheries sector. I look forward to creating a forum for respectful dialogue so that, together, we can move forward.” Allister Surette, Federal Special Representative
Commercial and Indigenous harvesters have been fishing side-by-side for decades. While work continues with Mi’kmaq communities on implementing their Treaty rights, the appointment of this Federal Special Representative will help all parties gain a better understanding of the issues in the region and will provide advice on ways to repair and continue to improve relationships going forward. Discussions facilitated by Mr. Surette will provide a structured forum to address genuine questions and concerns from those involved, and to foster long-term cooperation.
The right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood is a right stemming from the 1760-61 Peace and Friendship Treaties, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada under the Marshall Decision. The Government of Canada is dedicated to implementing this right.
Much work has been done since the Marshall Decision to advance Indigenous fisheries and implement their Treaty Right, but there is still more to do. Fishing is a main economic driver in coastal communities and we will continue working diligently on a path that ensures a safe, productive, and sustainable fishery for the benefit of all harvesters.