Indigenous leaders gather on Pat Bay Highway in support of Mi'kmaq fishermen

March closes Pat Bay hwy

Dozens of Indigenous leaders and supporters stood in a circle at the intersection of the Pat Bay Highway and Mount Newton Cross Road Friday afternoon in a show of solidarity with Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia.

The highway was closed between Island View Road and Amity Road from about 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. to allow people to march from the Tsawout First Nation band office to the intersection.

Central Saanich police chief Ian Lawson said the event went smoothly, but police are trying to locate one motorist who blew past the barricades as police were setting them up.

Similar peaceful marches took place all over Canada this week, after a national call to action to support the Mi’kmaq people.

Mi’kmaq fishermen have been locked in a bitter dispute with commercial fishermen for weeks since the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched a self-regulated lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia outside of the federally regulated commercial fishing season. The Mi’kmaq say they are asserting their treaty-protected rights, which allow them to earn a “moderate livelihood” all year round.

Indigenous fishermen have been the target of increasing violence and intimidation. Last week, a lobster pound holding the catch of Mi’kmaq fishers was burned to the ground.

About 100 people blocked the same intersection for three hours on Feb. 26 to show their support for five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

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