Sipekne'katik councillor charged with vessel infraction during fishery tensions

·2 min read

A Sipekne'katik band councillor has been charged with unsafe operation of a vessel during the September confrontation over the Mi'kmaw fishery in the waters off Saulnierville, N.S., CBC News has learned.

Brandon Alexander Maloney was band fisheries manager at the time of the incident, which occurred on Sept. 17 — four days after the band launched its moderate livelihood lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay.

He has since been elected a councillor and resigned the fisheries position.

The RCMP charged Maloney on Nov. 26 under Section 15 of the federal Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations.

The Mounties also charged another person, Shaquest India Miller, of Yarmouth County, with the same offence in connection with a separate incident in the area on Oct. 12.

Many commercial fishermen in the area have been opposed to the Sipekne'katik fishery. In the days following its launch, boats belonging to non-Indigenous fishermen circled the harbour in Saulnierville, Mi'kmaw traps were hauled up or cut, and there were allegations flares were shot toward First Nations vessels.

A Sipekne'katik official said Monday the band will defend Maloney.

"Brandon was protecting our fishermen when they were attacked. He was acting in his capacity as fisheries manager," the official said.

Paul Legere
Paul Legere

On Monday, Maloney posted a video on Facebook with his reaction to the charge.

"I'm going to frame that charge, consider it a medal, almost like a diploma ... That's the day we tried to get the traps back off a few commercial vessels and it was just a way of them bullying us more and trying to scare me not to talk or press charges against other people or whatever," he said.

The charges laid against Maloney and Miller are not the only ones related to the lobster tensions in St. Marys Bay this fall.

On Monday, the RCMP said in a news release that on Nov. 27 it charged 42-year-old Dale Richard Wagner of Digby County with disobeying the interim court injunction obtained by Sipekne'katik to prohibit interference and threats against band members fishing in southwest Nova Scotia.

The RCMP said on Oct. 23, police received a report from earlier that day of a vessel steaming toward another vessel that had to manoeuvre to avoid a potential collision. Wagner is scheduled to appear in Digby provincial court on Feb. 15.

On Sunday, Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said the Oct. 21 Supreme Court of Nova Scotia injunction protecting Mi'kmaw fishing operations has had a positive effect.

"It's been a lot calmer. I think the injunction had a big part to do with that," he said.

Previously, police have laid assault and arson charges in connection with the unrest that erupted after Sipeknetkaik launched its moderate livelihood fishery.