How an Indigenous fishery is charting a new path forward amid Nova Scotia’s lobster wars

UNAMA’KI, Nova Scotia — On an overcast December day, father and son steam into St. Peter’s Bay in their battered sunflower-yellow Cape Island-style fishing boat, flying the red and white Mi’kmaq flag. 

This is Michael and Avery Basque’s year.

They’re out here, off the shores of Unama’ki or Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia, to fish, to haul their lobster traps out of the Atlantic. As band members of Potlotek First Nation, they are exercising their constitutionally-protected Treaty Rights to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing at a time when violence and racism is raging during the province’s long-simmering lobster war. It’s both a small act and a monumental step forward.

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