Le Lézard
Classified in: Transportation
Subjects: NTA, CFG

Government of Canada appoints Federal Special Representative to facilitate discussions between commercial lobster industry and First Nations in Atlantic Canada


OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 23, 2020 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced the appointment of Allister Surette as Federal Special Representative, a neutral third-party who will communicate with and rebuild trust between commercial and Indigenous fishers. Mr. Surette will gather the different perspectives on the issues, seek to build understanding, and make recommendations to the Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as well as to the public, so parties can move forward toward a positive resolution. 

The Federal Special Representative will begin his work immediately. His initial priority will be to meet with Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq and commercial sector leaders and harvesters to listen to concerns, communicate information, and foster dialogue with the objective of decreasing tensions and preventing further escalation of this conflict.

In the coming weeks and months, the Federal Special Representative will meet with commercial leaders and harvesters in other parts of Atlantic Canada, Indigenous leaders in Nova Scotia and in other parts of Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé region of Quebec, provincial governments, and others as appropriate.

Commercial and Indigenous harvesters have been fishing side-by-side for decades. While work continues with Mi'kmaq communities on implementing their Treaty rights, the appointment of this Federal Special Representative will help all parties gain a better understanding of the issues in the region and will provide advice on ways to repair and continue to improve relationships going forward. Discussions facilitated by Mr. Surette will provide a structured forum to address genuine questions and concerns from those involved, and to foster long-term cooperation.

The right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood is a right stemming from the 1760-61 Peace and Friendship Treaties, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada under the Marshall Decision. The Government of Canada is dedicated to implementing this right.

Much work has been done since the Marshall Decision to advance Indigenous fisheries and implement their Treaty Right, but there is still more to do. Fishing is a main economic driver in coastal communities and we will continue working diligently on a path that ensures a safe, productive, and sustainable fishery for the benefit of all harvesters.

Quotes

"Commercial and Indigenous harvesters have been fishing side-by-side for decades and we need that to continue. You have shared the wharves, and we must find a way to share the resource as well. While the Government continues to work directly with the Mi'kmaq, nation-to-nation, this structured forum, led by the well-respected Allister Surette, provides the right environment to ensure all voices are heard throughout the process. A peaceful resolution is achievable, and this will strengthen our fisheries and our communities."

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

"It has been over 20 years since the Marshall decision reaffirmed the right of the Mi'kmaq to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. This story started in 1760-61 when the Crown signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Mi'kmaq people. We need to uphold and implement the spirit and intent of these Treaties which will be done in partnership. We continue to work with Mi'kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, including through the Recognition of Indigenous Rights tables, on nation-to-nation conversations to implement Treaty rights and their visions of self-determination. Mr. Allister Surette will support this continued work by listening to Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers about their concerns and how we can all continue to walk the shared path of reconciliation."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"It is with great humility and enthusiasm that I begin my work as Federal Special Representative. I will be listening carefully to the concerns of the treaty nations whose rights were affirmed in the Marshall decisions, as well as stakeholders in the fisheries sector. I look forward to creating a forum for respectful dialogue so that, together, we can move forward."

Allister Surette, Federal Special Representative

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Biography - Allister Surette

Mr. Allister Surette has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Université Sainte-Anne since July 1, 2011.

Born and raised in West Pubnico, N.S., Mr. Surette has intimate knowledge of the importance of fisheries to the people who live in Nova Scotia and other parts of Atlantic Canada. He is deeply aware of the historical and current nature of the relationships among the residents of Nova Scotia, including First Nations and commercial fish harvesters.

He was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1993, representing the riding of Argyle. He held several political offices until 1998, including senior roles such as Minister of Human Resources and Acadian Affairs. During his tenure as Minister, Mr. Surette oversaw successful negotiations between the provincial government and various Nova Scotia unions to reach final contract agreements.

From 1998 to 2003, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Collège de l'Acadie, Nova Scotia's only French-language community college. Upon his arrival in 1998, Mr. Surette oversaw the adoption of a new strategic direction and new operational structure, in order to better position the Collège for the 21st century.

Beginning in 2000, Mr. Surette played a key role in the creation and development of today's Université Sainte-Anne. In 2003, he was named Université Sainte-Anne's VP Development and Partnerships, a position he held until his nomination as President and Vice-Chancellor in 2011.

Mr. Surette has previously acted as a facilitator to resolve conflicts between parties in the fisheries, including the lobster fishery. In December 2003, Mr. Surette was appointed facilitator by the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead discussions between herring fishers from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, as well as the provincial governments of these two provinces, in order to seek solutions to the conflict in the herring fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. And, in March of 2006, again appointed by the Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Surette facilitated an independent process to resolve a dispute between fishers from Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands regarding lobster fishing on MacLeod's Ledge.

Mr. Surette has served in various capacities on numerous committees and boards including the Organizing Committee of the 3rd Congrès mondial acadien, the Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse, the Western Regional Enterprise Network, the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, the Board of Directors of Landscape of Grand-Pré Inc., the Board of Directors of Assumption Life, and the Réseau des cégeps et des collèges francophones du Canada.

He is currently the Co-Chair of the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne, Chair of the Fondation canadienne pour le dialogue des cultures, Chair of the Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse, and Chair of the Association of Atlantic Universities.

Mr. Surette graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Education from Saint Mary's University in 1984.

BACKGROUNDER

Role of the Federal Special Representative

The role of the Federal Special Representative (FSR) is to facilitate open communication as a neutral third party with the aim to rebuild trust and cooperation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters. The FSR is a dedicated, neutral, and senior third-party official to whom both parties can direct their concerns.

The FSR will begin his work immediately. His initial priority will be to meet with Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq and commercial sector leaders and harvesters to listen to concerns, communicate information, and foster dialogue with the objective of decreasing tensions and preventing further escalation of this conflict.

In the coming weeks and months, the FSR will continue to meet with Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq leaders and harvesters and commercial sector leaders and harvesters. In addition, the FSR will meet with Mi'kmaq, Wolastoqey (Maliseet), and Peskotomuhkati in other parts of Atlantic Canada and the Gaspé region of Quebec, commercial leaders and harvesters in other parts of Atlantic Canada, provincial governments, and others as appropriate. The intent of these meetings will be to:

Specifically, the FSR will:

The FSR will produce an interim and final report. The final report will include key findings related to the Indigenous?commercial sector relationship in Atlantic Canada and recommendations for how best to move forward with the implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood for the Mi'kmaq, Wolastoqey (Maliseet), and Peskotomuhkati in the region. The FSR will also provide strategic advice to the Ministers of Crown?-Indigenous Relations and of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, about how the Government of Canada can best engage stakeholders on the broader implementation of Indigenous rights and reconciliation agenda going forward. 

Dialogue with the FSR will not replace ongoing negotiations the Government of Canada is having with First Nations through Rights Reconciliation Agreement negotiation tables, nor will it replace opportunities for Indigenous leaders or the commercial sector to meet with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

The FSR is not a Government of Canada employee and will act independently of the Government of Canada. The FSR does not have the authority to undertake a Nation-to-Nation negotiating role or a duty to consult role, nor is it within his authority to provide policy or operational advice related to fisheries science, management, or enforcement or public safety.

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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada


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