One of two Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters who were barricaded inside a lobster facility in West Pubnico, N.S. says he is pleased that a Nova Scotia judge has granted a temporary injunction against hostile protesters like the ones who recently destroyed his vehicle, threatened to harm him and stole his lobsters.
“I’m glad to hear that but ‘better late than never’ is the saying, right,” Marr said when reached by phone on Wednesday.
“I would hope that any person who’s in any kind of sane mind would say, ‘yeah, that’s good.’ Even my enemies should say this is craziness,” Marr added.
Earlier in the day, a judge in Halifax granted the Sipekne’katik First Nation’s request for a temporary injunction against non-Indigenous fishers and their supporters who have been harassing, threatening and intimidating Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters taking part in the First Nation’s rights-based moderate livelihood fishery.
The injunction prevents the protesters from vandalizing Mi’kmaw harvesters traps, gear and boats while they fish in St. Mary’s Bay. It also orders the same protesters from gathering and blocking entrances to wharves in Saulnierville and Weymouth and a lobster pound facility in New Edinburgh.
Marr and Sack were surrounded by angry mob on Oct. 13
On Oct. 13, Marr and Randy Sack, the son of the late Donald Marshall, Jr., locked themselves inside the lobster pound when the building was surrounded by an angry mob of mostly non-Indigenous fishermen.
Marr and Sack, both members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, drove to the facility in West Pubnico that night to store approximately 30 crates of lobsters they caught in St. Mary’s Bay. Earlier in the evening, a large group of non-Indigenous fishermen had vandalized a lobster facility in New Edinburgh being used by the First Nation and set fire to a Mi’kmaw harvester’s van.
Marr was told the crowd was making their way to the wharf in Saulnierville to seize Mi’kmaw harvesters’ lobster catch. Shortly after he and Sack moved their catch to the pound, Marr said a crowd arrived threatening to seize their lobsters and burn down the building.
RCMP officers, who arrived at the scene nearly two hours after Marr called 9-1-1, forced him and Sack to leave the pound without their lobsters. The non-Indigenous fishermen then took most of the pair’s catch out of the pound and allegedly poisoned the rest.
The lobster pound in West Pubnico was eventually destroyed in a fire three days later on Oct. 17. In a news release, the RCMP stated it was investigating the fire it deemed suspicious.
According to the same release, a man believed to have a connection to the fire was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
“I feel extremely overwhelmed.” – Jason Marr
Marr said the ordeal has really taken a toll on his mental health.
“It’s really hard trying to keep a level head. They’re so many people trying to do harm to you,” Jason Marr said in a recent interview. “I feel extremely overwhelmed. I feel like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown.
Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters like Marr have been facing intense harassment and threats of violence on and off the waters in southwestern Nova Scotia from non-Indigenous lobster harvesters ever since the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its moderate livelihood fishery on Sept. 17 at the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S.
Many harvesters have had their lobster lines cut and traps vandalized on the day of the launch and had flares shot at them from a flotilla of fishing boats in St. Mary’s Bay that same evening.
On Oct. 5, a boat belonging to lobster harvester Robert Sylliboy was set on fire at a wharf in Comeauville which is near Saulnierville.
Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack was assaulted during a protest by non-Indigenous fishers at the lobster pound in New Edinburgh on Oct. 14.
While the RCMP has laid charges in connection to Chief Sack’s assault and the van that was torched at the New Edinburgh lobster facility on Oct. 13, the First Nation leader has called for police to do more to protect Mi’kmaw harvesters on the land and water.
Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair announced on Oct. 17 approved a request from the Nova Scotia Attorney General to “enhance the presence of contracted RCMP resources as needed in that jurisdiction in order to keep the peace.”
Marr live-streamed his ordeal inside lobster pound
During his ordeal in West Pubnico, Marr used his smartphone to post a live feed on the Facebook website of what was happening to him and Sack while they were inside the lobster pound. Since then, he has been inundated with phone calls, text messages and social media requests and comments from people around the world in reaction to his ordeal
“We have a lot of support, it’s unbelievable. I have people calling me from around the world,” he said, adding that one person called to apologize for the racism he has received from the non-Indigenous fishermen.
“What do you do when someone says, ‘I’m sorry that my people are so awful and that they hate you,’” Marr explained. “You don’t have to apologize for what that person did. That’s not up to you.”
Marr also added that not all of the messages he has received from people have been friendly and supportive. He forwarded text message to RCMP from a person in Saint John, N.B. who threatened to come to his house with an automatic rifle.
“He said he was coming to the wharf and that he hated me. I asked him why. He said, ‘because you’re an Indian and I hate Indians,” he said.
Despite his ordeal, Marr said he still intends to exercise his treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood with his two daughters.
“We’re going to fish. If you want to buy lobster, come to Saulnierville Wharf. I have lots. I’m going to get more,” Marr said.