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Listuguj First Nation conflict over fishing and logging rights, Canada

Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation faced police raids in the 90s over fishing rights. These conflict led to community mobilizing and to the successful assertion of Mi'gmaq governance over fisheries on the Restigouche River.


Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation faced several police raids in the 90s over fishing rights. These conflicts led to the community mobilizing and to the successful assertion of Mi'gmaq governance over fisheries on the Restigouche River. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Listuguj First Nation conflict over fishing and logging rights, Canada
State or province:Quebec
Location of conflict:Restigouche
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Aquaculture and fisheries
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

This a case not about a specific project. It is about ongoing conflicts in fishing and logging rights and governance.

Project area:250,530
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3000
Start of the conflict:11/06/1981
End of the conflict:03/1993
Relevant government actors:Quebec Ministry of Fisheries
Quebec Government
Quebec Provincial Police
Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Malnutrition
Other Health impactsLoss of traditional food sources
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Indigenous law over the river, Government of Canada and Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government conclude agreement on fishery. They sign the Listuguj First Nation-Canada Fish Framework Agreement
Development of alternatives:“What the story of the Listuguj First Nation shows is the power to fight back by taking responsibility…The answer was [to fight] not [with] guns or litigation or marching in the streets. Ultimately, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq fought back with the tools of governance: by making credible law – Mi’gmaq law – and then backing it up with competent management and enforcement” [3].
Stephen Cornell, faculty associate at the Native Nations Institute. “The Listuguj law on fisheries and fishing did more than just regulate a critical resource. It was a demonstration of the thoughtful, deliberate exercise of self-determination and self-government on the part of a First Nation. It’s a notable model, and the beneficiaries have included not only the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation but the salmon, the Restigouche River and Canada as a whole” [3].
"It is the story of a First Nation not only reclaiming inherent jurisdiction over the resource, but reclaiming governance – including law-making and enforcement – as an inherent, Indigenous right, tradition, and practice" [4].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Listuguj First Nation successfully defended rights to fish and manage fisheries according to their own laws and governance system. They influenced other First Nations in other parts of Canada to enact resistance through Indigenous legal systems.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Incident at Restigouche- a documentary, documenting the events of the fisheries raid of 1981 on the Restigouche reserve
[click to view]

Our Nationhood- a documentary, documenting the events of the forestry dispute in 1998, on the Restigouche reserve
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] (Wikipedia, Listuguj Miꞌgmaq First Nation)
[click to view]

[2] (Wikipedia, Incident at Restigouche)
[click to view]

[5] (Government of Canada, 2018) Government of Canada and Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government conclude agreement on fishery.
[click to view]

[6] (Wysote, 2011) A Blessing in Disguise. Our Story.
[click to view]

[4] (National Centre for First Nations Governance, 2010). Making First Nation Law:The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Fishery. Report.
[click to view]

[3] (Center for First Nations Governance, 2011) Making First Nation Law: The Listuguj Mi’Gmaq Fishery

There are some events that come to define a community.
[click to view]

Other documents

Restigouche a photo of the Restigouche River
[click to view]

The Quebec Provincial Police marching into the Reserve
[click to view]

First Raid A photo taken during the first raid on the Restigouche reserve. A band member is dragged away by the Quebec Provincial Police
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Leah Nyssen, Bishops University and Jen Gobby
Last update10/04/2019
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