‘Burnt Church Back In The News’

One of the Bands that has in the past rejected Canadian sovereignty and law, has been reminded of the facts of life:

‘Esgenoôpetitj ‘First Nations’ chief, council dismissed over vote buying’

“The entire band council of Esgenoôpetitj {Burnt Church} ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 1,715 people} has been dismissed by a federal cabinet order, after an investigation found evidence of vote buying in the 2014 election.

“It appears that there is credible, corroborated evidence that several candidates engaged in vote buying in connection with this election”, the order-in-council states.

“In September 2011, then-chief Wilbur Dedam and three of his band councillors were fired over allegations of vote buying in the 2010 election. Dedam had been in office for more than 30 years.

“In 2002, the band council was told to resign so a new election could be held, following an investigation into vote buying and other corruption.

“The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs declared the August 2001 election invalid and ordered the Mi’kmaq band to hold a new election for chief and council within 30 days.

“Gov. Gen. David Johnston issued the order on Thursday, on the recommendation of the minister of ‘Indigenous’ and Northern Affairs Canada.

“No information about the nature of the evidence is revealed.

“But “following a review of all particulars and documents filed in connection with the appeal, which included a report prepared by an independent investigator”, Minister Carolyn Bennett “is satisfied that there was corrupt practice in connection with the election”, it states.

“As a result, the order sets aside the June 14, 2014 election of Alvery Paul as chief and all 12 councillors in the northeastern Mi’kmaq community, also known as Burnt Church.

“It comes just before the end of the Band council members’ two-year terms. The next election is slated for June 11, with nominations due on April 30.

“No one at the Band council office could immediately be reached for comment.

“Curtis Bartibogue, who previously served on the Band council for about 10 years, is disappointed.

“Band council candidates offering cash in exchange for votes “has been going on for a long time now”, said Bartibogue, who filed an appeal of the 2010 election.

“That appeal resulted in the chief and three councillors being removed.

“Bartibogue chose not to reoffer in the 2014 election and has been living off the reserve for about two years.

“I do believe that there should be investigations to keep that transparency and accountability for our communities and making sure election fraud is addressed in all ‘First Nations’ in ‘our territory’”, he said.

“An investigation that takes nearly the entire length of the band council’s term, however, “really doesn’t make any sense”, said Bartibogue.

“Under the ‘Indian Band Election Regulations’, the appeal would have been filed within 90 days of the June 2014 election.

“It shouldn’t be taking that long”, he said.

“The minister and department officials failed to respond to questions on Thursday or Friday…

“The Esgenoôpetitj reserve is located on the Atlantic coast, near Miramichi.”

–‘Esgenoôpetitj ‘First Nations’ chief, council dismissed over vote buying’,
Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, CBC News, Apr 22, 2016

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/esgeno%C3%B4petitj-council-vote-buying-corruption-1.3546739 Youth Alcohol & Drug March (600)From 2010:
“A column in the ‘Vancouver Sun’…highlighted 10 areas that would be considered the poorest in Canada….

“Seven New Brunswick postal codes rank among the 10 poorest according to income — six of them ‘First Nations’ communities: Kingsclear, Eel Ground, Tobique, Elsipogtog, Red Bank and Esgenoopetitj, also known as Burnt Church.

“The median income in those areas was below $14,000 in 2006, with Esgenoopetitj RANKING AS THE POOREST NEIGHBOURHOOD IN CANADA, with a median income of $9,200. Adamsville, N.B., also made the list.

“IN CONTRAST, internal documents of the Esgenoopetitj Band show Chief Wilbur Dedam made more than $300,000 last year…

“The Band office doesn’t keep unemployment statistics, but Dedam estimates the unemployment rate is probably three times higher than in neighbouring communities…

“Band councillor Curtis Bartibogue estimates it’s closer to 80%. He’s one of the Burnt Church residents living on social assistance — in his case, $300 a month.

“He said his pay is being withheld because he’s at odds with the Band council leadership. He’s been vocal with his concerns about how things are run, arguing that there’s a lack of transparency and accountability.

“As a Band councillor myself, a lot of information that I’ve been trying to get has been denied by the administration”, said Bartibogue…”

–‘7 N.B. communities among Canada’s poorest’,
CBC News, Feb. 23, 2010 {CAPS added}

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/7-n-b-communities-among-canada-s-poorest-1.901847 BurntChurchMapYou might remember this reserve from the news. It used to be called Burnt Church:

“On Sept. 17, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the native fishing rights of Donald Marshall, a Mi’kmaq who had been charged with fishing eels out of season, fishing without a licence, and fishing with an illegal net.

“Marshall had been convicted on all three counts in Provincial Court. The conviction was upheld by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. He then took his case to the Supreme Court, arguing TREATIES FROM THE 1760s GAVE HIM THE RIGHT TO CATCH FISH FOR SALE {forever} and EXCUSED HIM FROM CURRENT FISHERIES REGULATIONS.

“The Supreme Court agreed {Of course…}. It stated in its decision that

“…nothing less would uphold the honour and integrity of the Crown in its dealings with the Mi’kmaq people to secure their peace {? They are supposed to be law-abiding Canadian citizens…} and friendship…”

“But the Marshall decision caused chaos {Of course…}, as parties on all sides of the debate interpreted the ruling differently {Which means that the Supreme Court ruling was poorly written…and poorly thought out…}.

“The 34 native bands in the Maritime provinces and eastern Quebec that were affected by the decision immediately began fishing lobster out of season, saying the ruling gave them full, unregulated fishing rights.

“Non-aboriginal fishermen demanded the government put a ban on the catch, worried that lobster stocks would be lost.

‘Burnt Church and Indian Brook’
“Burnt Church, N.B., became the hotspot of tension between native and non-native fishermen. Trouble began in the early hours of Sunday, Oct. 3, 1999, when about 150 fishing boats headed out into Miramichi Bay, one of Canada’s most lucrative lobster fisheries, to protest against ‘NATIVE’ TRAPPERS WHO WERE FISHING LOBSTER OUT OF SEASON.

“The demonstration turned to an ugly shouting match when the boats returned, having destroyed hundreds of native traps. The vandalization of fishing equipment and three fish plants followed. BURNTHISTORY“Despite the violence, the native fishermen of Burnt Church didn’t budge, refusing to give up the ‘native fishing rights’ granted {created} by the Marshall decision. Mi’kmaq ‘warriors’ set up AN ARMED ENCAMPMENT on the wharf in Burnt Church to ‘protect’ native people continuing to {illegally} catch lobster in the bay.

“Days later, Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal met with native leaders to try to find a way to ease the tensions. All but two of the 34 ‘First Nations’ Bands agreed to a voluntary moratorium on fishing.

“The Burnt Church and Indian Brook bands REJECTED THE IDEA OF GOVERNMENT REGULATION.

“The moratorium succeeded in defusing the tensions between ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ fishermen, at least for the time being.

“On Oct. 18, 1999, the ‘West Nova Fishermen’s Coalition’ applied for a rehearing of the appeal and asked for the judgement to be set aside until a new hearing.

“On Nov. 17, 1999, the Supreme Court said there would be no rehearing. However, to alleviate the confusion, the Court released a new ruling, known as ‘Marshall 2’, to clarify points made in the original Marshall decision.

“One of the most important points of the decision, reiterated in ‘Marshall 2’, was that THE GOVERNMENT STILL HAD THE POWER TO REGULATE ‘NATIVE’ FISHING FOR THE PURPOSES OF CONSERVATION.

‘Negotiations slow’
“In February 2000, negotiations between the ‘First Nations’ communities in the Atlantic Provinces and the DFO began, with Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal promising to ink a short-term deal by the spring. The deal would decide how aboriginal and commercial fishermen would share the resource.

“But negotiations took longer than he thought.

“Dhaliwal also met with commercial fishermen, some of whom were considering selling their licences and getting out of the business. The ‘Maritime Fishermen’s Union’ criticized the government, saying the DFO was dragging its heels.

“‘Native’ fishermen were also getting frustrated. ‘First Nations’ leaders announced their people would be out fishing in the spring, whether or not a deal had been struck.

“On Feb. 24, 2000, the {Liberal} federal government {caved in and} announced it would buy back more than 1,000 commercial fishing licences, including boats and gear, to expand the ‘native’ lobster fishery {Exactly what they did on the West Coast – buy up as many ‘non-aboriginal’ fishing licenses as possible, in order to create a Race Based fishery…}.

“By the summer, about 1,400 fishermen had ‘offered’ to retire more than 5,000 licences.

“In the federal budget announced in February 2000, $160 million was set aside for the DFO’s response to the ‘Marshall’ decision. The money would pay for retired licences and economic development initiatives aimed at helping to bring native people into the fishing industry {In other words, taxpayers were buying the licenses from ‘non-aboriginals’ — at inflated prices — and giving them to aboriginal fishermen, along with additional financial support…}.

‘The interim agreements’
“Over the following two months, the negotiations saw real progress as the first native Bands signed agreements with the government. By April 21, 2000, 13 Bands signed deals and others made agreements in principle.

“The interim deals were different for each Band, taking into account the different sizes and interests of the various groups… They gave native people the same access as non-natives to commercial and food fisheries, providing boats, gear, training and economic development initiatives, like new equipment or facilities. Some bands incorporated the new deals with the ‘Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy’, AFS, while others opted to keep the agreements separate.

“Established in 1992 to ensure stable fishery management, the AFS was in response to the Supreme Court of Canada 1990 ‘Sparrow’ decision, that defined Aboriginal Peoples’ ‘right’ to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes.

“By August 2000, 27 bands had signed agreements, but the Burnt Church and Indian Brook bands still refused.Aislin--2000-08-15‘The fishing continued’
“In a two-week period in late July and early August 2000, seven boats belonging to the Indian Brook band were seized and 18 PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED, on charges of catching too many lobsters.

“The Mi’kmaq said they didn’t need the government to make sure the lobster population is conserved because they already have their own ‘conservation methods’ in place.

“The Burnt Church Mi’kmaq held their position, as well.

“On Aug. 9, 2000, THE BAND MEMBERS VOTED TO REJECT FEDERAL REGULATION OF THE FISHERY {Which they have no legal right to do…}, despite the government’s offer to provide five well-equipped boats and build a new $2-million wharf.

“OTTAWA WANTED TO SET A 40-TRAP LIMIT, BUT THE BAND SAID IT HAD THE ‘RIGHT’ TO SET MORE THAN 5,000 TRAPS.

“The following week, tensions rose again in Burnt Church as enraged Mi’kmaq ‘declared war’ against the DFO after a late-night raid on several {illegal} lobster traps in Miramichi Bay. Four people were arrested, and one boat and over 700 traps were seized.

“‘Native’ fishermen {illegally} protested by setting up a blockade on ‘Highway 11’, a major commercial route in the province. The Mi’kmaq claimed officers pointed guns at them, but the DFO denied the allegations, saying that only pepper spray was used and one baton pulled out.

“With Burnt Church fishermen continuing their lobster catch, Dhaliwal said fisheries officers would continue to seize traps and make arrests. But he also called the native leaders to return to the negotiating table, claiming the Burnt Church Band refused to even meet with his federal negotiator.

‘2001 season’
“Hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence of the previous year’s fishing season, the federal government issued the Burnt Church Mi’kmaq a temporary licence when the season opened Aug. 20, 2001 {The government once again caving in to aboriginal threats, bullying and intimidation – all while they are breaking the law…}. The plan was to allow ‘native’ fishing to go ahead while a long-term agreement was negotiated.

“However, the licence came with limitations that didn’t sit well with the Mi’kmaq. Band member Brian Bartibogue called it another case of the federal government

“ramming legislation down aboriginal people’s throats” {In other words, they didn’t get their way…}.

esgenoopetitj-protest“The licence restricted the fishermen from selling their catch, limiting them to using it for food and ceremonial purposes only {As was mandated by the law at that time…}. Department of Fisheries and Oceans tags had to be on the catch.

“Most importantly, the licence would only last one week, until midnight on Aug. 27, 2001.

“Shortly after issuing the licence, the federal government released a study that suggested fishing in the fall jeopardizes the resource. Ottawa proposed allowing the Mi’kmaq to use small boats to set 900 traps for two months every fall as well as creating 50 jobs on the reserve to study the long-term effects of the lobster fishery.

“With pressure building on the day before the deadline, Burnt Church Band members blocked all entrances to their reserve and escorted media out of the area while continuing to set lobster traps on Miramichi Bay.

“The RCMP sent extra officers to the area and non-native fishermen again called on Ottawa not to allow the Mi’kmaq to fish under different rules.

“After the deadline passed with no agreement with the Mi’kmaq, Ottawa {caved and} issued a new licence to allow fishing for food and ceremonial purposes, which lasted until Oct. 20, 2001.

‘Federal report’
“In April 2002, a federal committee released a report aimed at preventing more outbreaks of violence between ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ fishermen {How about Equal Rights, and people just being “fishermen”?}.

“The report recommended that all charges stemming from the confrontation be dropped and Ottawa should compensate fishermen for their lost traps and boats.

“The committee recommended that ‘native’ fishermen have the same season as ‘non-native’ fishermen, meaning natives would be banned from fishing in the fall. As well, the report recommended that native Bands be issued licences, which they would distribute to native fishermen.”

–‘The Marshall decision’,
CBC News, May 9, 2004 {CAPS added}

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/background/fishing/marshall.html  SUPREMESENTENCES600“Any fair-minded Canadian would agree with a recent conclusion about the Burnt Church fishing disputes. The Supreme Court of Canada, said a two-person panel,

“did not intend to create chaos with its rulings.”

“If not chaos, however, then something close to it flowed from the court’s two 1999 rulings, the second of which embarrassingly had to clarify the first.

“The court, of course, had little appreciation for the facts on the ground in New Brunswick’s Miramichi Bay, so its second ruling seemed slightly perplexed at the uproar caused by the first. But WHEN A COURT READS NEW AND DEBATABLE MEANINGS INTO OLD TREATIES, with little understanding of today’s circumstances in the affected areas, the result might make matters worse, at least in the short term.

“Which is what happened in Burnt Church and why, three years later, Ottawa created a panel to review the situation and recommend how continuing tensions might be eased.

“The panel report, by former Chief Roger Augustine and Judge Guy Richard, is an unblinkered review that offers many lessons, one of which should be mandatory reading in the nation’s law schools and among Canada’s aboriginal leadership.

“SOME OF BURNT CHURCH’S LEADERS (THE BAND’S AFFAIRS ARE NOW UNDER TRUSTEESHIP, THE RESULT OF COMPLETELY DYSFUNCTIONAL MANAGEMENT) TOLD THE PANEL, as they had the government, that THEY DID NOT ACCEPT CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY {Since they are citizens of Canada, they are – by definition — ‘traitors’…}.

“The Esgenoôpetitj “First Nation”, claiming “inherent sovereignty”, asserted ‘rights’ — INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO RUN THE FISHERY AS IT SAW FIT — that the panel interpreted as a

“unilateral declaration of independence”.

“The panel correctly rejected this claim because it denies

“the legitimacy of Canada as a country.”

“An isolated claim, you might shrug. But last week in Ottawa, a conference bringing together the ‘native industry’ — aboriginal leaders, government officials, policy wonks and lawyers — heard variations on this theme:
that Canada can only treat with natives on a “Nation-to-nation basis”.

“This philosophy impregnated the {segregationist} ‘Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs’. It is now accepted dogma by aboriginal leaders. It is ingrained in the nation’s law schools, propounded there by influential legal ‘scholars’, some of whose writings have been favourably cited by the Supreme Court. Ottawa-FirstNationsSign“And IT IS DEEPLY DANGEROUS FOR CANADA.

“Not because Canada is going to fall apart, or become a Swiss-cheese country pockmarked by Bantustan native “nations”, although THAT WOULD BE THE RESULT if this philosophy were accepted by Canadians.

“No, it is dangerous because it leads to completely unrealistic goals and unrealizable expectations that poison efforts to make progress on improved relations.

“Burnt Church illustrated the problem. The DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS, whipped on by the court ruling that natives had a treaty right to earn a “modest living” from an eel fishery, BOUGHT ‘NON-NATIVE’ LICENCES FOR THREE TO FIVE TIMES THEIR MARKET VALUE.

The DFO TRANSFERRED THE LICENCES TO THE ‘NATIVES’, BUT ONLY A QUARTER OF THEM WERE TAKEN UP. MEANWHILE, MANY ‘NON-NATIVES’ who had worked part-time on the lobster fishing boats, WERE IDLED, and divisions arose within the ‘non-native’ community between those whose licences were bought for grossly-inflated prices and the rest.

“THE ‘NATIVES DEMANDED A FALL FISHERY THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DISASTROUS FOR THE LOBSTER STOCKS, as the panel correctly noted. THE DFO, however, WAS RELUCTANT TO ENFORCE ALL THE RULES, FEARING VIOLENCE, adverse media reaction and the usual accusations of “racism”, despite the Supreme Court’s repeated insistence that the government had to enforce conservation.

“THE LOBSTER TRANSFERRED TO ‘NATIVES’ FAR EXCEEDED what they needed for food and ceremonial purposes, the panel found.

“That’s what ‘non-native’ fishers along the Fraser River in British Columbia believe has happened since the Supreme Court’s ‘Sparrow’ decision gave natives the ‘right’ to fish for food and ceremonial purposes.

“The natives considered the dispute partly about fishing, but mostly a ‘cri de coeur’ about their impoverishment. Only a few natives were going to fish anyway, but the ability to do so represented a tiny step toward economic improvement.

“Their schools were awful, the band council corrupt, infrastructure crumbling, job prospects few, alcoholism rife, resentments great. The average income of an aboriginal male was 42% lower than the average for the county. But, after taxes, the panel found the gap dropped to only 3 to 5%.

“Two poor, aggrieved communities therefore confronted a ruling dropped from on high, and policies made on the run by harried governments. Why, oh why, did the court not give everybody at least a chance to adjust to a ruling that overturned the lower court judgment, surprised almost every legal scholar, and was bound to complicate an already complicated situation?”

{Why, oh why, did the Court not End Race Based Law?}

–‘Burnt Church report cuts to the chase’,
JEFFREY SIMPSON, Toronto Globe and Mail, Apr. 26, 2002 {CAPS added}

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/burnt-church-report-cuts-to-the-chase/article754326/
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