The chiefs of the Mississauga and Serpent River First Nations are standing firm with the Mi’kmaw Nation in defending inherent Indigenous rights.
Yesterday, members of the two First Nations communities gathered on Highway 17 in a showing of support for Mi’kmaw fishers in their struggle to protect their livelihood.
“Mississauga First Nation fully supports the Mi’kmaw Nation in their Right to exercise their Inherent Rights, be free from oppression when trying to access legal markets, and free of tyranny and intimidation when trying to earn a small living,” says Mississauga First Nation Chief Reg Niganobe. “Mississauga First Nation was honoured to share and spread awareness to this issue besieging our fellow First Nations people.”
Chief Niganobe went on to thank motorists who waited patiently and sounded their horns in approval as the caravan drove by.
“We thank the community members and supporters who rallied with us,” he says. “Mississauga also valued the OPP co-ordinated efforts to keep all participants safe.”
Chief Brent Bissaillion of Serpent River says yesterday’s highway slowdown was an expression of Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights to trade, strengthen inter-nation bonds, and practice First Nations’ distinct legal and political rights as sovereign people.
“Canada or the Treaties do not give us our Inherent rights; your rights as Canadians to live, work, and enjoy the bounty of Turtle Island stems from the Treaties,” says Chief Bissaillion. “The Treaties acknowledge Inherent rights we have always had and will continue to practice, despite state-sanctioned violence; and intimidation.”
Bissaillion says true reconciliation can only happen if Canadians answer the challenge to stand up for the distinct legal and political rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Our people have already put their bodies in the way of violence to protect our Inherent rights,” he says. “Canada must stand up to protect the distinct legal and political rights of Indigenous Peoples within their own bureaucracy, teach and inform Canadians on their treaty obligations, and protect the ability of Mi’kmaw peoples to engage and practice rights they have had since time immemorial, predating the very foundations of the Confederation.”
He went on to say, “This violence against Mi’kmaq people stems directly from willful suppression of Indigenous rights to self-determination.”
Today, Garden River First Nation is holding its own solidarity rally at the Highway 17a and 17b intersection at the community’s boundary. They plan to hand out educational material to the public.