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National

First Nations group wins lucrative clam fishery, breaks up Clearwater monopoly

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  • OTTAWA — A company made up of First Nations members from Quebec and Atlantic Canada — and led by the brother of a Liberal MP — has won a new licence for Arctic surf clam, ending a longtime monopoly on the multimillion-dollar industry held by fisheries giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

    Granting the lucrative offshore licence to Five Nations Premium Clam Co. will boost Indigenous participation in the industry and spread economic and social benefits across eastern Canada, said Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

    “This is a powerful step toward reconciliation,” LeBlanc said.

    “The inclusion of participants from each Atlantic province and Quebec will allow the benefits of this lucrative fishery to flow to a broad group of First Nations, and will help create good, middle-class jobs for Indigenous peoples in each Atlantic province and Quebec.”

    Last year, the government announced it would add a fourth licence comprising 25 per cent of the total allowable catch of Arctic surf clam, and that the successful applicant would be an Indigenous entity and majority Canadian-owned.

    Five Nations Premium Clam will partner with Premium Seafoods to harvest, process and market the catch.

    Edgar Samson, whose brother is Liberal MP Darrell Samson, is listed as president for both companies.

    “Our company, its employees and the small rural communities of Isle Madame (in Cape Breton) are excited to participate in the surf clam fishery with our Indigenous partners,” Samson said in a statement.

    Samson said in an interview he is committed to working with current licence holder.

    Chief Arren Sock of the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick said he applauds the government for “its commitment to reconciliation” and for the jobs the fishery will create in his community.

    Clearwater is crying foul over the announcement and promising legal action against the government following its own unsuccessful bid, which involved partnering with 13 Mi’kmaq bands in Nova Scotia.

    “We are disappointed in this outcome,” the company said in a statement, adding that it invested $156 million over the past three years to boost its capacity and develop the fishery and the market.

    “The minister has destabilized the investment climate in the Canadian fisheries and the Canadian natural resource sector.”

    Clearwater took in more than $90 million from Arctic surf clam sales in 2016, which amounted to about 15 per cent of its total annual revenue.

    The fishing grounds for Arctic surf clams are located mainly off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the current quota is about 38,000 tonnes and worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

    The clam’s purple colour turns red when blanched and is attractive to the sushi and sashimi market.

    (Companies in this story: TSX:CLR)

    — Follow @gwomand on Twitter

    Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press


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    Arts

    Collection featuring Group of Seven paintings donated to University of Lethbridge

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  • LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess spent a lifetime following her passion.

    A lifelong educator and art collector, the Order of Canada recipient bequeathed a collection worth as much as $5 million to the University of Lethbridge following her death at age 100 in 2016. 

    The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery received word last year that Hess had donated her vast collection, which includes works from some of the most well-known artists in Canada and from around the world.

    University president Mike Mahon knew Hess for eight years prior to her death. He said she created a masters-level scholarship for students at the university and her generosity was well known.

    “I’ve seen her generosity in spirit, in volunteerism and in funds over the course of her life,” Mahon said

    “I knew she had an amazing art collection partly because when I would have a cup of tea in her living room you’d be surrounded by the Group of Seven and Emily Carr and others hanging on the wall or stacked against a chair.

    “She had art everywhere.”

    The gallery at the University of Lethbridge, now renamed in her honour, has on display 112 of the 1,140 pieces she donated.

    “It’s really exciting. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite. It was hard enough to come up with a selection out of the gift to show this summer,” said assistant curator David Smith.

    “What I’ve tried to do is replicate the areas of strength in her collection. More than half of her collection was work by Indigenous artists so more than half the works in this show are Indigenous artists,” he added.

    “There’s a selection of Group of Seven works with Tom Thomson and an Emily Carr piece. They’re really great pieces. The Thomson is particularly exciting. A recent guesstimate says there are only about 75 of those panel sketches left in private hands.”

    There are about 15 Group of Seven paintings safely behind Plexiglas.

    Smith said the remainder of the collection will be displayed in years to come.

    Hess, who was the daughter of a lumber magnate, never married and spent her life collecting art and lecturing on it.

    She received a doctorate of fine arts from the University of Lethbridge and at one point was a member of the university senate.

    “She was very close with A.Y. Jackson. He used to come and stay with her and visit her at her ranch near Cochrane. She’d drive him around to the best spots and they had a really great, lifelong friendship there.”

    Also on display until Sept. 7 is an original sketch by Henri Matisse, a print by Pablo Picasso and the art of prominent Indigenous artists, including Alex Janvier, Bill Reid, Tony Hunt, Jessie Oonark and Helen Kalvak.

    — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

     

    Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Quebec’s longest-serving legislature member blames PQ for decline of sovereignty

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  • QUEBEC — The Parti Quebecois is partly to blame for the lack of support for sovereignty, according to the province’s longest-serving legislature member, who believes his party has renounced its duty to promote independence.

    Francois Gendron, 73, will retire from political life this fall after 42 years in the legislature — but not without a few parting shots directed at the media, his political rivals and his own party.

    “The PQ has things to blame itself for,” says Gendron, who was first elected in 1976 under former Parti Quebecois premier Rene Levesque.

    In a lengthy interview with The Canadian Press, the politician says he has three words of advice for his party, which was founded to make Quebec a country but has thus far proven incapable of rallying the population to its cause.

    “Go. Talk. Convince.”

    Gendron, a former teacher, believes sovereigntists have to return to the basics of political activism, and show Quebecers what they have to gain from independence.

    His party, he believes, has failed in this scholarly duty, noting that they haven’t produced a single substantial document on the benefits of sovereignty since the last referendum in 1995.

    When asked if he’s scared he’ll never see Quebec become its own country, he responds, “the answer is yes.”

    The outspoken politician had nothing but good words for former Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet, who stepped down from her party earlier this month after losing a confidence vote. She currently sits in provincial legislature as an independent but has indicated she won’t run in October’s election.

    Ouellet, who was criticized at times for her laser-like focus on independence, is a woman “of conviction,” who wears the cause proudly and knows it inside and out, Gendron says.

    In contrast, he has harsh words for the poll-leading provincial Coalition Avenir Quebec, whose members he describes as “puppets” with no program, and Philippe Couillard’s Liberals, whose “billions” spent on advertising he says ought to provoke a “social crisis.”

    Gendron also blames a highly individualistic culture and a lack of education among citizens for the decline of the independence movement and most other collective efforts.

    “There’s no more culture, no more history, people know just about nothing,” he says.

    Some of his harshest criticism was reserved for the media, which in his opinion is largely responsible for discrediting the noble role of elected politicians through endless commentary that “pollutes the airwaves.”

    “We’re less credible than sex workers and used car salesmen,” he says.

    Gendron, who will not seek re-election in this fall’s election, says that what he’ll miss the most is representing the 35,000 people in his western Quebec riding of Abitibi-Ouest.

    While outspoken on many topics, he remains more discreet when questioned on his party’s possible fate come October.

    He notes, with a touch of disappointment, that the party has lost its foothold in many ridings that were once PQ strongholds. 

    In his decades-long career, Gendron has held a number of cabinet posts, many of them linked to regional development or resource management.

    He was instrumental in creating the first regional development policy in 1982, which he describes as a moment of pride.

    These days, he’s faced with the task of sorting decades of photos, documents, press clippings and memories as he prepares to make his exit.

    “When we stir all this up, madam, it disturbs,” he says. “It comes to get you at an emotional level.”

    Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press



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