In the aftermath of a suspicious fire that ravaged a lobster warehouse, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced on Sunday that it had made a new arrest in connection with the conflict raging between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia. .
Michael Burton Nickerson, 31, is accused of setting a vehicle on fire last Tuesday in New Edinburgh, near the Bay of Fundy, where police were called to go after an altercation at a lobster factory.
Four days later, on Saturday, a warehouse that did business with Mi’kmaq fishermen was completely destroyed by flames in West Pubnico, a small village in the south of the province.
A man who was at the scene was seriously injured and authorities feared for his life on Saturday.
This place had also been the target of vandals a few days before.
Faced with this escalation of tensions in the region, several ministers of the Trudeau government strongly denounced the violence of the last week and reiterated their desire to uphold the rights of the Mi’kmaq.
In 1999, the Supreme Court allowed them to fish in the waters of the Maritimes and the Gaspé outside the season under certain conditions, but these limits were not clearly specified by the courts and they have since been the subject of debate. It is this thorny question which lies at the heart of hostilities.
Fearing that the conflict could escalate further in the wake of the West Pubnico facility fire, Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq community leader Mike Sack pleaded with the RCMP to increase its presence in the area.
Federal police said on Sunday that officers from Prince Edward Island had been called in to assist. They have training in conflict defusing and crowd control.
“The RCMP in Nova Scotia will continue to take steps to ensure that those who undermine or pose a risk to the security of any person or property are held accountable for their actions in accordance with Canadian law,” said insisted the police force by press release.
The Royal Gendarmerie had arrested another man in connection with this tense situation.
Chris Gerald Melanson, 46, allegedly physically assaulted Chief Sack on Wednesday. He was formally charged with assault.