Return of Donald Marshall Jr.’s eel nets brings back powerful memories of historic Indigenous fishing rights decision – The Globe and Mail

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by ahnationtalk on October 7, 201958 Views

The recovery of eel nets that helped confirm Aboriginal rights to earn a living from fishing is bringing back powerful memories for those closely touched by the story they evoke.

Donald Marshall Jr. was charged with three counts of violating federal fisheries laws when he and his former partner Jane McMillan set the nets near Pomquet Harbour, N.S., in 1993.

The seizure and the storage of his gear took Marshall all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where judges upheld treaties from the 1760s they interpreted as meaning Mi’kmaq can earn a moderate living from hunting and fishing. A subsequent decision stated the fishery could be regulated, if justified for conservation or other important public objectives.

Marshall died in 2009 at the age of 55, unaware his historic nets were still locked away, though he’d requested their return.

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