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The Burnt Church Crisis was a conflict between the Mi'kmaq people of the Burnt Church First Nation and non-Aboriginal New Brunswick fisheries, from 1999 to 2001.

Contents [hide]
1 Supreme Court Ruling
2 Crisis
3 Report
4 See also
5 References



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Supreme Court Ruling
As Indigenous people, Mi'kmaq claim they have the right to catch lobster out of season. The non-Aboriginals claim that that if this is allowed lobster stocks (an important source of income) could be depleted.

In September 1999, a Supreme Court of Canada ruling acknowledged that treaties from the 1770s held that a different community of Mi'kmaq (in Nova Scotia) had the right to fish for eels out of season. The Burnt Church First Nation interpreted the judgment as meaning that they could catch lobster out of season and began to put out traps.

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Crisis
Angry non-Aboriginals damaged and destroyed a number of Mi'kmaq lobster traps in the weeks to come. Local Mi'kmaq retaliated by destroying non-Aboriginal fishing boats and buildings.

Government Minister Herb Dhaliwal and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans manged to sign fishing agreements with 29 of 34 Atlantic Coast bands but the Burnt Church First Nation was not convinced. The Canadian Government ordered the Mi'kmaq to reduce the total number of lobster traps used, leaving members of the Burnt Church First Nation with a total of 40 traps for the whole community. Some Mi'kmaq resisted this, claiming that they already have conservation methods in place to ensure the lobster stock would not be depleted off the Atlantic coast.

In 2000 and 2001, rising conflict led to a series of standoffs between police and Aboriginals, and a number of arrests were made. The federal government offered to pay for a two million dollar fishing wharf and five new fishing boats for the Mi'kmaq. The Natives rejected the offer, believing it could be interpreted as a surrender of their legal fishing rights.

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Report
In April 2002, a Federal report on the crisis suggested that a number of police charges be dropped and that fishermen should be compensated for damaged traps and boats. They also recommended, however, that First Nations fishermen should not be allowed to fish out of season, and should attain fishing licences like regular fishermen.