Shubenacadie resident James Pictou explains the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society's peaceful protest to a passing motorist at the Cobequid Pass toll booth Thursday. About 20 members of the society participated in the protest to bring awareness to violations under the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Matt Veno - Transcontinental Media
LONDONDERRY - Native rights are being violated and protesters here Thursday said they are tired of turning the other cheek.
That was the message of a peaceful protest Thursday held by the Mi'kmaq Warrior Society at the Cobequid Pass toll booth. About 20 members of the society from across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with help from the booth's staff, allowed vehicles to pass through the toll for free, however, traffic was cut down to one lane.
The protest was part of National Protest Day.
"We just want to make people aware that our rights are being violated by the federal government," said society sergeant James Pictou, a Shubenacadie resident. "This protest lets them know that wherever we go it's our land.
"So we just wanted to get together to do something peacefully."
Whycocomagh's Seven Bernard, a warrior society chief, agreed, adding violent protests only leave a black mark on their reputation.
"For so many years there was a negative outlook on this," he said. "So we wanted to protest our rights peacefully."
Motorists didn't seem fazed by the protest with lots offering their toll money for donation. Traffic wasn't backed up as traffic moved through the toll at a steady pace.
The protest is an annual event but was last held in Nova Scotia in 2007. The past two years a protest has been held in P.E.I.
The site was selected by the society because of its traffic load.
"It was a way to make it effective so everyone could see," said T'uma Bernard, who came from New Brunswick for the event.
The protest is centered around the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which the group says has continuously been breached by the federal government.
"They allow non-natives to sell lobster at the side of the road, but not natives," Pictou said.
T'uma Bernard said natives are also becoming fed up with the federal government's tactics of paying band chiefs to sidestep treaty agreements.
"We're not trying to cause trouble here," he said. "Everyone would be happier if we could work together and (the government) has to realize this. They'll wave $7 million in front of a chief's face and of course they're going to take it."
Pictou said sticking with the treaty agreement would benefit everyone.
"Both sides suffer," he said. "Just look at the shape our waters are in today because of the federal government. If they just listened to us we wouldn't be in this situation."