OTTAWA — A new report from the Senate is calling on the federal government to implement Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati rights-based fisheries on Canada’s East Coast and overhaul its approach to negotiations.
One of the report’s 10 recommendations is that discussions with First Nations be immediately transferred to Crown-Indigenous Relations from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is something Indigenous communities have been calling for.
“The committee found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not been an effective lead negotiator regarding the implementation of rights-based fisheries,” the report says. It suggests DFO can act in an advisory capacity.
The Senate’s fisheries and oceans committee was asked to study the issue in February in response to violence that first erupted in southwest Nova Scotia in September 2020.
At the time, fishers from Sipekne’katik First Nation began hauling lobster outside of DFO’s regulated commercial fishing season, claiming they had a treaty right to fish that was affirmed by the Supreme Court’s Marshall Decision in 1999.
That decision affirms that First Nations fishers have a treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood, although the report notes that Canada has never defined what constitutes a moderate livelihood, which has slowed negotiations with Indigenous communities.
The federal government has also refused to negotiate moderate livelihood fishery deals unless they are constrained within its regulated commercial season. The Senate committee says Indigenous rights-holders also have the right to co-manage and co-govern the fisheries.
“Seasonal limits and other restrictions cannot continue to be imposed unilaterally,” the report says.
Local commercial fishers in Saulnierville, N.S., responded with anger to Sipekne’katik’s self-regulated fishery in 2020, leading to several days of violent clashes as non-Indigenous people destroyed First Nations catch and burned down a lobster pound.
The report says the public perception of what happened — including that of commercial fishers — was shaped by misinformation and contradictions that at times came from government.
Since then, there has been increased enforcement by DFO and the RCMP in the area.
DFO issued a reminder on Monday that First Nations have the right to fish for limited purposes outside federally regulated fishing seasons, adding that hefty fines await those who prevent them from exercising that right.
While the federal government acknowledges the rights of Indigenous people to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, it will not allow them to sell that catch. In April and May, three people and a business were fined a total of over $100,000 for selling lobster caught under these licenses.
To address issues with enforcement, the Senate committee says an expert panel should create a report about “the prevalence of institutional and systemic racism” in DFO, the RCMP and other agencies. It wants that report tabled in Parliament within a year.
The committee says future work should be based on “true collaboration and a shared decision-making framework.”
The report defines rights-based fisheries as those based on Aboriginal and treaty rights, which “must be under the sole jurisdiction of Indigenous Peoples.”
It further states that this does not mean Indigenous people don’t have a right to access commercial and recreational fisheries as well.
It recommends reallocating some existing commercial fishing quotas to Indigenous communities and integrating Indigenous knowledge in conservation efforts.
The report says the government should implement a three-step plan, beginning with co-operating with all three First Nations groups to review and change “all relevant laws, regulations, policies, and practices regarding rights-based fisheries” to ensure they’re in line with the Constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Next, it says Canada should negotiate nation-to-nation agreements, and finally, create a legislative framework that allows for the implementation of rights-based fisheries.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Wolf found dead by roadside, another still missing after ‘suspicious’ B.C. zoo escape
ALDERGROVE — One of the wolves that escaped its enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo this week has been found dead on a roadside, and a second wolf is still missing, the zoo’s deputy general manager said Thursday.
Menita Prasad said both the zoo’s perimeter fence and the grey wolf enclosure were deliberately “compromised” early Tuesday, allowing the zoo’s nine adult wolves to escape while five cubs stayed inside the enclosure.
All but two of the adults were contained within the zoo’s property, she said.
The zoo in Aldergrove, B.C., has been shut for three days as workers and conservation officers searched for the wolves, while Langley RCMP investigate the incident as a suspected case of unlawful entry and vandalism.
The fences had been cut, Prasad said. An earlier statement from the zoo said the escape was “suspicious, and believed to be due to malicious intent.”
Searchers were “heartbroken” to find a three-year-old female wolf, Chia, dead by the side of 264 Street in Aldergrove on Thursday morning, Prasad told a press conference through tears.
It’s presumed Chia was hit by a car, she said.
A one-year-old female wolf named Tempest is still missing and believed to be in the vicinity of the zoo, Prasad said, adding that the animal, which was born at the facility, has a slim chance of surviving in the wild.
Prasad described Tempest as a “shy wolf” who poses no threat to public safety, though she said she could not say what the wolf might do if a person approached her. She urged anyone who sees the animal not to approach her and instead call authorities to report the location.
The wolf’s prime motivation would be to get back to her family, she said.
“As a result of this senseless act, our wolf pack has lost two family members,” Prasad said. “We watched these wolves grow up. We consider the animals at the zoo a part of our family.”
She said the “search and rescue operation” would continue and is asking for the public’s help “to reunite Tempest with her family.”
“She is a small wolf with grey brown puppy fur and white markings on her muzzle and her brow,” Prasad said.
Anyone who spots Tempest is asked contact the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Langley RCMP or the BC Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277.
The zoo, which is about 55 kilometres outside Vancouver, is set to reopen on Saturday, Prasad said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.
The Canadian Press
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Canada stable, but higher than past summers – Global News
COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and confirmed case counts across Canada are relatively stable after an early summer wave, but they remain far higher than past years, data shows.
As of Wednesday, Canada is seeing an average of 3,475 lab-confirmed cases and 44 deaths per day, according to provincial and territorial data compiled by Global News. Currently, 5,158 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 305 patients who are in intensive care.
While those numbers are down slightly from the brief wave of infections in June and July, they remain far higher than the rates seen during the summers of 2020 and 2021.
In past years, there was an average of roughly 350 patients in hospital per day during the summer months. Even as hospitalizations climbed in August 2021 and into September of that year, they peaked at half the current rate.
The current death rate has also vastly eclipsed past summers, when the average number of deaths per day was in the single digits.
Previous evidence pointed to the summer months as predictable lulls in the pandemic, as people spend more time in outdoor spaces where there is less transmission of the virus.
But the more infectious Omicron variant upended that thinking, and further mutations — including the current BA.5 subvariant and its predecessor, BA.2 — have led to more waves of infections this year than in the past.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that BA.5’s dominance has led to a 35 per cent increase in reported COVID-10-related deaths globally over the past four weeks.
In the last week alone, 15,000 people died from COVID-19 worldwide, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus, but we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths,” he said at a press conference.
“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves and protect others.”
COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said the country is in a period of pandemic transition that will likely lead to further waves this year, warning back in June that COVID-19 “has not left the stage.”
Public health officials have shifted their focus toward a potential serious wave in the fall and winter. Planning is underway to provide vaccine booster doses to all adults that request one, while ensuring vulnerable populations receive an extra dose.
Experts say the boosters are important, as current vaccines do not sufficiently protect against Omicron and its subvariants, allowing for “breakthrough cases” and even reinfections among vaccinated people.
“However, there is evidence that if you have the vaccine, more than likely you don’t end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
“People (infected with COVID-19) will say, ‘It’s just kind of a flu, that’s okay, I’ll stay home.’ That is the result of the vaccines.”
Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter
The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that between June 6 and July 3 of this year, unvaccinated cases were three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated cases.
Tedros urged everyone who has access to a booster dose to get one, and to continue to wear masks when it is impossible to keep distance from others.
As of Monday, 86.1 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.4 per cent have received at least two doses. Yet just under half — 49.7 per cent — have gotten at least one more booster dose.
Despite hospitalizations nationally remaining relatively stable, signs are emerging that more patients are being admitted with symptoms.
Hospitalizations are on the rise in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, according to the most recent updates. Most provinces besides Quebec have shifted to reporting data weekly, while Saskatchewan is due to release its first monthly report on Thursday.
To date, provinces and territories have confirmed more than 4,125,000 cases of COVID-19 including 43,471 deaths.
— With files from Rachel Gilmore
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Commercial bankruptcies rising in Canada, says business lobby group – CBC News
A small business lobby group says commercial bankruptcies are rising in Canada and even more small businesses are at risk of closure.
Statistics Canada data shows small business insolvencies have been on an upward trend since May 2021.
But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its own survey data indicates only 10 per cent of Canada’s small business owners would file for bankruptcy if their business was no longer solvent.
It says 46 per cent of business owners say they would simply stop operating rather than go through the bankruptcy process.
The CFIB also says more than one in six Canadian small business owners say they are currently considering going out of business.
The lobby group wants government support to help Canada’s small business sector get through the next few months and deal with challenges like pandemic-related debt and supply chain issues.
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