Nova Scotia:

Mi'kmaq loggers to be sentenced for defending their hereditary rights

HALIFAX (16 April 2001) -- THIRTY-FIVE MI'KMAQ loggers who appeared in court on April 12 have had their sentencing adjourned to May 22 at the request of their lawyers. Earlier this year, the Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax, denying the hereditary rights of the First Nations peoples, convicted the loggers of illegally cutting trees on Crown lands. They face possible fines of $500 and forfeiture of seized logging equipment.

Many of the 35 Mi'kmaq charged were participating in an action to assert their hereditary rights, as recognized in the Delgamuukw case and their treaty rights to trade in forest products. Others of the 35 were charged for harvesting timber on Crown lands, which they require for their livelihood. The cases were consolidated into one trial at the request of the First Nations defendants, over the objections of the Crown.

The trial of the loggers stretched for close to two years and saw the introduction of thousands of documents and oral history to support the hereditary claims of the aboriginal peoples to harvest timber on Crown lands. The Delgamuukw case specifically recognized the rights of the aboriginal peoples to fish for a livelihood the courts ruled that this did not extend to cutting of timber. A further six logging cases were adjourned until these 35 cases have been settled in court.

The Marxist-Leninist Daily, Vol. 31, No. 57, 16 April 2001

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