In the Same Boat?

Martha Stiegman

2007, 38:37 minutes, colour, English


In the Same Boat? tells the story of two neighboring fishing communities – one Mi’kmaq, the other non-native - both struggling to defend their ways of life. Shot on Canada’s east coast, the two-part documentary explores the grounds for solidarity between Mi’kmaq and non-indigenous fishing communities in a way that honors the very different role fishing plays in both cultures.

Part one, The End of the Line, is a portrait of Terry Farnsworth, the last handliner on the Bay of Fundy. Handlining is the most ecological fishing technology around; for Terry, it is a vocation. These days, most fishing licenses have been bought-up by big companies. As fish stocks plummet, will Terry be forced off the water?

Part two, In Defense of our Treaties, follows members of Bear River First Nation as they stand up to Canada’s Department of Fisheries (DFO), who is pressuring them to sell out their treaty rights for a ticket into the commercial fisheries. For the Mi’kmaq, fishing is a right that comes from the Creator, and is protected by the Treaties. In 1999, the Supreme Court recognized those rights, and DFO has since signed agreements with 32 of the 34 First Nations in the region. The deals offer money to buy into the commercial fisheries, as long as the Mi’kmaq fish under DFO’s jurisdiction. That's not good enough for Bear River, one of two communities refusing to sign.

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