Statement by Minister Lebouthillier on next steps following the March 26 incident in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia

Statement

July 8, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario - On March 26, 2024, I was deeply troubled to learn of an incident involving the arrest and release of two Mi’kmaq individuals in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. The allegations brought forward regarding the treatment of the two individuals are simply unacceptable.

Since this incident took place, Parliamentary Secretary Kelloway and I have engaged with Chiefs and representatives of Mi’kmaq communities to discuss the path forward. On May 31, I had the opportunity to meet with and, most importantly, listen to the poignant testimony of one of the two Mi’kmaw individuals involved in the incident.

Today, I announce that the Government of Canada will be launching a comprehensive external review to examine the events of March 26, 2024, the conduct of the DFO fishery officers involved, as well as DFO policies, enforcement practices, and procedures to eradicate the potential for systemic biases or racism. In the coming weeks, a whole-of-government team comprised of representatives from Indigenous Services of Canada (ISC), Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) Public Safety Canada (PS), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will establish a framework for the external review, including the terms of reference, membership, and scope of the mandate of the individual(s) identified to lead the work.

As I’ve previously stated, and will state again: this external review must, and will, involve Indigenous leadership. This is why further engagement with Mi’kmaw communities will be critical before selecting the external review panel, which we expect to announce later this month. The external review will be conducted independently, with no role for DFO or the government in the day-to-day work of the investigative team.

Once this external review is concluded, a report with recommendations will be presented and made public.

I am committed to shedding light on this matter. We must work together to eradicate systemic racism, wherever it exists.

Associated Links

Contacts

Gabriel Bourget
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Gabriel.Bourget@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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