It’s time to get real.

For all those one-issue candidates and their supporters, you’re not going to pull the net over our eyes.

Elections are about vision, leadership and good governance. It’s clear you lack all three. I even question whether you have the capacity to really understand the issue. Just sayin’.

Before you vote this week, make sure you have the facts. Make sure you know which candidates are for protection of the fishery and those that are a threat to the fishery.

Here are a few blunt points for your consideration:

  • The right to harvest is a collective right, not an individual right. Once your individual rights start to tread on others, your individual rights stop. I have a right to fish. My children and future grandchildren have a right to fish. Our descendants, seven generations from now, have a right to fish. And the fish have a right to survive. You DON’T have the right to wipe them out!
  • There is no threat to our rights. We will always be able to use a net and spear for personal and ceremonial use. The only threat to our rights is the disregard of Nipissing First Nation law and disrespect for the fish, our lake, our nation’s laws and us, your fellow Nbisiing Anishinaabeg.
  • I’m going to say it: your candidacy and arguments are not about protection of our rights, it’s about greed and disrespect. You’re not interested in managing the fishery and protecting the resources. You’re out for the almighty buck.
  • You openly call our Gimaa, a direct descendant of the Chief that signed our treaty, the “White Chief”. The only thing non-native is your greed and disrespect for our laws, the lake, the fish and your fellow Anishinaabeg. There are plenty of good zhagonosh people that have much more integrity and values than you do. You bring shame to your families and your community.
  • The Robinson Huron Treaty was only signed in 1850. The Treaty did not give us rights, it gave the settlers rights. Before that, we had inherent rights and sacred law.
  • Sacred law tells us that human kind were given two gifts: (1) intellect and (2) free-choice for one purpose: to speak up for, and look after all those in Creation that are unable speak for themselves. We have a responsibility to look after the lake and the fish.
  • It is 100 per cent true that the lake is under tremendous pressure. The numbers, through surveys, the annual fall walleye index netting and reported catch from harvesters all point to a possible collapse of the walleye. This is science, people. Not someone’s opinion.
  • I’m sorry to say that it is OUR people that are responsible for the collapse of the fishery. Not angling nor ice fishing – but our unsustainable, commercial fishery. We are responsible for taking the vast majority of fish from Lake Nipissing. We’re talking thousands and thousands of kilograms, each and every year.
  • For those who say the science may not be accurate, you are right! Uncompliant harvesters do not participate in the surveys and do not report their catch at all. As a result, these numbers are probably even worse.

I’ll stop here for a moment of levity. Aspiring leader, oh great ones, what are you going to do about this?

  • If you won’t be compliant with a law that has enforcement provisions, why would you be compliant with just a code of ethics? Doesn’t make sense.
  • Those that gloat that their catch has “never been better” are not telling the truth. We know you are feeling the pinch. Maybe it’s time to find some other work or learn another skill.
  • Our First Nation has the right to manage the fishery. That’s what our community has done. Our fisheries laws are good. As Nbisiing Anishnaabeg, we should be proud of this program. It is based on science, it is based on developing our community capacity, it is based on protecting the fishery as well as our rights.
  • We have been recognized for our incredible leadership. In March, our Natural Resources Program, the MOU and our relationship with the MNR received an award given by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). We won the Gold Award for excellence in managing the fishery, and collaboration and co-management with the MNR and the MOU. The MOU is a best practice demonstrating mutual-respect, recognition of Indigenous law and repairing a long-contentious relationship for the benefit of the lake and the fish life.
  • That being said, we wouldn’t need to have an MOU with the MNR to enforce our fisheries regulations if these uncompliant harvesters would just obey our community laws.
  • You are contravening Nipissing First Nation law. We want NFN fisheries and the MNR watching, because they are enforcing OUR law. But here is a really simple suggestion… if you don’t want to be “harassed”, then become law-abiding and compliant harvester. But until you begin to obey the law, we don’t want you fishing.

Vote to protect our Lake. Vote to protect the fish. Vote to support the rights of your fellow Nbisiing Anishinaabeg. Please choose wisely.