Important facts about the Indian Brook First Nation and the Indian Brook First Nation Fishery

The following information was made available at a fund-raiser for the Indian Brook First Nation in Halifax addressed by Donald Marshall, February 2001.

Facts about Indian Brook First Nation

  • The Shubenacadie Band is commonly referred to as Indian Brook First Nation

  • The Shubenacadie Band is comprised of the Indian Brook Reserve, New Boss Reserve and Grand Lake Reserve;

  • the majority of the Band's 2,000 members reside on the Indian Brook Reserve, which is situated 80 kms north of Halifax;

  • the Shubenacadie Band is the second largest Mi'kmaq community in Nova Scotia;

  • The Shubenacadie Band and its members are descendants of the Mi'kmaq who entered into various Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British, including the Treaties with the British, including the Treaties of 1752 and 1760/61.

    Brief facts about Indian Brook First Nation Fishery

  • The Shubenacadie Band has been embroiled in a dispute with the DFO over the exercise of the right to fish for a moderate livelihood pursuant to the Treaty of 1760/61 as affirmed in the Marshall decision;

  • The Shubenacadie Band began its livelihood fishery in St. Mary's Bay, Nova Scotia in 1997.

  • Immediately after the Marshal Decision the DFO had agreed to allow the Band to fish up to 800 lobster tags in the St. Mary's Bay area for food, social, ceremonial and livelihood purposes. In May of 2000, DFO Minister, Herb Dhaliwal unilaterally reduced the amount of the Band's fishing tags to 35 for food purposes only. The Band was not consulted as to the reasons for the reduction.

  • On June 2, 2000 the Band approved a Lobster Management Plan, developed by the Indian Brook Fishers Association, outlining its livelihood fishery for St. Mary's Bay for the period July 3rd to October 15th and forwards it to the DFO. The Lobster Management Plan allowed for the use of 800 Indian Brook lobster tags (not DFO's) for livelihood fishing as well as for food, social and ceremonial fishing. The figure of 800 Indian Brook tags was agreed to by DFO the previous year for food, social and ceremonial purposes as well as livelihood purposes.

  • The Band made numerous requests for reasons for the unilateral reduction in the number of lobster tags and made repeated requests for DFO TO consult with the Band on decisions relating to its fishery.

  • On July 1, 2000 the Band revised its statement as to its position on the St. Mary's Bay fishery on July 3, 2000 by proposing to use (under protest) 35 tags from DFO to conduct a scientific study to ascertain whether there were any conservation concerns. The Band again requested the cooperation of DFO's biologists for the scientific study;

  • On July 3, 2000 the Band commenced its scientific study. DFO also commenced its enforcement activities on Band members by seizing traps and interfering with the study.

  • Based on encouraging results from Part 1, on July 24th the Band announced that it will be undertaking Part 2 of the study on July 28, 2000. Part 2 allowed for an increased fishing effort using 335 tags rather than 35. DFO's enforcement activities continued and more traps were seized;

  • Between July 26th and August 5th, 2000 a total of 23 men and women were charged with Fisheries Act and Criminal Code offenses, 6 fishing vessels were seized and hundreds Code offenses, 6 fishing vessels were seized and hundreds of lobster traps confiscated. Their cases are currently before the Courts.

  • In August 2000, the Band commenced an application in the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the Minister's decision not to allow lobster fishing in accordance with the Band's Management Plan. The Band also applied for an interim injunction to prohibit DFO form interfering with the exercise of their Treaty rights. The injunction was denied on September 21, 2000;

  • On December 14, 2000, the Shubenacadie Band filed a statement of claim in their existing legal proceeding in the Federal Court of Canada challenging on the basis of their treaty rights the licensing power and actions of the Minister of DFO in obstructing their fishery. The Band and its fishers also seek compensation for the seizure of vessels, traps and loss of livelihood.

  • Most recently the Minister has filed an application to strike out the Statement of Claim. This is to be heard on March 9, 2001

  • The provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, a lobster Fisherman's Group for the St. Mary's Bay area and the Atlantic Fishery Alliance have intervened to oppose the Band. All the neighboring municipalities have indicated their intention to likewise intervene. Application to intervene and to determine their rights of participation is to be heard on April 11, 2001.


Your generous contributions will assist Indian brook in their ongoing challenge to assert their Aboriginal and Treaty rights to fish for a moderate livelihood. All contributions can be made out to the Indian Brook First Nation.

Indian Brook First Nation
Shubenacadie Band Council
Micmac Post office

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