Indigenous Peoples have millennia-old relations with the ocean and its inhabitants. Communities where generations have shared work and built cultural and social practices on the coasts are intricately entwined with the ocean.
As we are interested in restoring the resilience of the natural ecosystem, we are similarly concerned with the resilience of coastal communities. Mi’kma’ki/Atlantic Canada’s coastal communities have been hard hit by the collapses of fish stocks and the subsequent consolidation of the fishing industry, as well as the use of increasingly “efficient” fishing gear. In our quest for ever-increasing efficiency and profit, we have lost the important diversity and decentralization of many of our coastal industries, seafood markets, and supply chains. This strategy has accumulated enormous wealth for increasingly few, but has often left our communities hollowed out and our supply systems increasingly exposed to global political, ecological, and social disruption.
The EAC works to showcase and support economic strategies and livelihood opportunities that are regenerative and within natural limits. A prosperous future for our coastal communities can only flourish with healthy and abundant ecosystems. A prosperous future needs policies and incentives that ensure economic benefits for the many and space for small-scale, owner-operator businesses to thrive. A prosperous future for coastal communities must include those previously marginalized from ocean opportunities. It must also include Nation-to-Nation relationships that move forward reconciliation and Indigenous rights to governance.