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A letter from SRES Professors to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Posted by Karen Beazley on October 20, 2020

The following letter was sent sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 20 by Karen Beazley. The original letter was signed by all professor named below. 

October 20, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa, CA. K1A 0A2

Attention: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

Re: Mi’kmaq/Indigenous Livelihood Fishery, Treaty Rights and the situation in southwest Nova Scotia

Dear Prime Minister;

In light of on-going violence against Mi’Kmaw leaders, fishers and fisheries in southwestern Nova Scotia, we, Professors at Dalhousie University’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, submit this letter to the Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other key Federal and Provincial leaders (Premier of Nova Scotia, MPs, MLAs and Ministers).

The Mi’kmaq of what is now called Atlantic Canada have Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to hunt, fish, travel and conduct trade across their traditional territory (Wabanaki), as they have since time immemorial and as agreed in the Treaties of Peace and Friendship of the 1750s and 1760s. These rights are protected under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and were upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1999 Marshall decision and others. Under the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, the Mi’kmaq did not cede their lands; rather, the peoples of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the British Crown agreed to live together in peace and friendship. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, the Government of Canada accepted this responsibility.

Consequently, we urge:

  1. Strong and immediate action to protect against further violence against Indigenous leaders, fishers, fisheries and their property as they continue exercising their rights, as well as to bring perpetrators of violence to justice; and,
  2. Immediate and heightened priority attention and meaningful engagement in nation-to-nation dialogues in ethical space towards reaching agreements between Canadian and Indigenous governments for implementing Indigenous moderate livelihood and other rights, including rights to self-governance of their peoples and territorial lands and waters.

True to the spirit and intent of the Treaties, the Constitution Acts 1867 and 1982, Supreme Court rulings, recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other laws, signatory agreements and promises, we urge strong action in support of the Mi’kmaq and all Indigenous persons and Indigenous governments within Canada. We urge immediate attention to the escalating situation related to the Mi’kmaw lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia. We are all treaty people, and as such we all have the responsibility to live up to our Treaty obligations.


Dr. Karen Beazley, Professor
Dr. Peter Tyedmers, Professor
Dr. Michelle Adams, Associate Professor
Dr. Tony Walker, Associate Professor
Dr. Melanie Zurba, Assistant Professor
Dr. Alana Westwood, Assistant Professor
Dr. Heather Cray, Instructor
Dr. Andrew Medeiros, Assistant Professor

Dalhousie University is located in Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq. We are all Treaty people.


Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, c/o Special Assitant,
Hon. Andy Fillmore, MP, Halifax,
Hon. Chris d’Entremont, MP, West Nova,
Hon. Jamie Battiste, MP, Sydney-Victoria, NS,
Hon. Stephen MacNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia,
Hon. Labi Kousoulis, MLA, Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, NS,
Hon. Gordon Wilson, MLA, Clare-Digby, NS,
Winter Sack, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq,
Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, c/o Executive Assitant,
Lisa Young, Executive Director, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources,