Treaties and Truck Houses

marlene-treaty

kivin-tilleyMi’kmaq opponents of the Alton Gas project, supported by non-Indigenous allies, set up a truckhouse along the banks of the Shubenacadie River near the Alton Gas brine dumping site. This is an important demonstration of resistance to Alton Gas, the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish, and the government’s failure to consult with Sipekne’katik First Nation.

1752 Treaty of Friendship and Peace

Signed by Chief Jean Baptiste Cope of Shubenacadie and Governor of Nova Scotia Peregrine Thomas Hopson, the treaty promised hunting, fishing, and trading rights in exchange for peace.

“It is agreed that the said Tribe of Indians shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of Hunting & Fishing as usual: and that if they shall think a Truckhouse needful at the River Chibenaccadie or any other place of their resort, they shall have the same built and proper Merchandize lodged therein, to be Exchanged for what the Indians shall have to dispose of, and that in the mean time the said Indians shall have free liberty to bring for Sale to Halifax or any other Settlement within this Province, Skins, feathers, fowl, fish or any other thing they shall have to sell, where they shall have liberty to dispose thereof to the best Advantage.”[1]

R.v. Simon

In 1985 Saqamow Reginald Maloney and the Union of Nova Scotia Indians were the first to take a treaty case to the Supreme Court of Canada. They won the case.  The Supreme Court declared the Mi’kmaq Treaties signed with the British in the mid-1700’s are still valid.

The Marshall Decision

In Sept 1999 the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the right to fish and trade when it decided Donald Marshall Jr had a treaty right to a moderate livelihood by hunting, fishing and gathering of natural resources.

Truckhouse

A truckhouse is a trading post set up to facilitate trade between Mi’kmaq and their trading partners. As described in the Treaty of 1752, the Government of Nova Scotia recognizes the right to build and access a truckhouse.

Duty to Consult

Decisions handed down in 2004-2005 by the Supreme Court found the Crown (federal and provincial) has a duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples and to accommodate their interests when decisions or actions might adversely affect their treaty rights.

In the case of Alton Gas, the governments of Nova Scotia and Canada have failed to accommodate the interests of Sipekne’katik First Nation, which include the right to have and access a truckhouse, and to have and access eel traps in the river.

 

[1]  Treaty transcript from Supreme Court of Canada decision.

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