Fishery court cases roundup: Jan. 8-12, 2024

Jan. 8: Cory Francis

Cory Francis at his home in Acadia First Nation near Yarmouth, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

A new fishery charge against Cory Francis, 54, was withdrawn during a court hearing in Digby Provincial Court on Jan. 8.

Francis, a member of the Wasoqopa’q (Acadia) First Nation, was scheduled to be arraigned for an alleged fishery offence that happened in 2021.

According to court documents, Francis was accused of having lobster traps on board a fishing vessel without valid tags issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The alleged offence happened on Aug. 20, 2021 but he wasn’t officially charged until Dec. 21, 2023.

During the brief hearing, federal crown attorney Alex Pink informed Judge Timothy Landry he was withdrawing the charge. Francis was not present in court for the scheduled hearing.

Meanwhile, Francis will back in court in Digby on Jan. 18 on other fishery-related offences. He is charged with unlawfully fishing for lobster in Lobster Fishing Area 34 during a closed commercial season, and unlawfully having lobster traps onboard a vessel in LFA 34 during a closed commercial season.

The alleged offences occurred at or near Saulnierville, N.S. on August 20, 2021. Francis was officially charged on Sept. 13, 2022.

Jan. 9: Ashton Bernard, Arden Bernard, Rayen Francis and Zachery Nicholas

Zachery Nicholas, left, Ashton Bernard, centre, and Arden Bernard, right/Photos by Stephen Brake

Ashton Bernard, Arden Bernard, Rayen Francis and Zachery Nicholas were not present for their scheduled court appearance before Judge Paul Scovil in Bridgewater Provincial Court on Jan. 9.

All four men are each charged with fishing for lobster during a closed commercial season, fishing for lobster without authorization, being in possession of lobster in contravention of fishery regulations, and violating the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations.

The alleged offences occurred at Pinkney’s Point in Yarmouth County on Sept. 6-7, 2019. The fishermen were officially charged on May 19, 2020.

The four men had intended to fight the charges on constitutional grounds but their previous lawyer, Michael McDonald, withdrew from their case in Nov. 2022.

Federal crown attorney Mark Donohue informed Judge Scovil that Ashton Bernard is scheduled to take part in a sentencing circle in his home community of Eskasoni First Nation, N.S. on Feb. 2. Scovil noted that he will not be attending the sentencing circle.

Donohue also informed the court that he has been unable to reach Francis and Nicholas. On Donohue’s request, Judge Scovil issued bench warrants for the two fishermen to appear in court. A bench warrant was previously issued for Arden Bernard.

Francis and Nicholas are from the Pictou Landing First Nation, N.S. Arden Bernard, who is Ashton Bernard’s brother, is from Eskasoni First Nation.

The four fishermen are scheduled to return to court in Bridgewater on Feb. 7.

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About Maureen Googoo 270 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news more than 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.