Dalhousie Law Journal


legal history, covenants, treaties, Nova Scotia, Mi'kmaq, fishery, resource management


The Mi'kmaq, the traditional Aboriginal nation in Nova Scotia, are struggling to find their place in the modern fishery. Significant milestones have been achieved, including the Denny, Paul and Sylliboy (N.S.C.A.) case establishing the right of the Mi'kmaq to harvest fish for food and the Simon (S.C.C.) case affirming the continuing validityof the Mi'kmaq Treatyof 1752, a treaty that contains an express right to sell fish. Though fishing by the Mi'kmaq for food no longer appears to be a subject of controversy (assuming the needs of conservation have been met), the spectre of commercial aspects to the Mi'kmaq fishery is meeting resistance. This paperexplains the background to these developments andcomments on the future role of the Mi'kmaq in the commercial fishery. The author argues that the present collapse in the fishery was not the fault of the Mi'kmaq and the Mi'kmaq should be accorded a priority in future harvesting. Further, Mi'kmaq participation and resource management raise issues of self-government that must resolved through Mi'kmaq governmental mechanisms.

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