Black cloud seems to follow Cape Croker fisherman


LION'S HEAD, Ontario - It's been a tough year for Myles Jones, an Indian commercial fisherman from the Cape Croker reserve about 100 miles north of Toronto.

First his home, a bungalow on the reserve, went up in flames March 5. The same day his pickup truck was destroyed in a blaze. No one was hurt in either incident but police and officials from the fire marshal's office have determined both fires were deliberately set. Police have not made any arrests, but have said that Jones is not a suspect in the two cases of arson.

Two weeks after the fire, Jones arrived at the dock in Lion's Head just north of the reserve to find his 42-ton fish tug, the Miles and Sea, under 10 feet of water.

The first salvage attempt failed when the crane wasn't strong enough to raise the tug and Jones had to go the expense of bringing in a second giant crane.

Once the tug was raised forensic experts from the Bruce Peninsula Ontario Provincial Police determined that it had been deliberately sunk, said Sergeant Don Hillman.

No arrests have been made in connection with the sinking.

In 1995, at the height of area fish wars between Indians and non-Indian sports anglers, an Indian fish tug was sunk and when it was raised, set afire. No arrests were ever made in connection with those incidents. The same year thousands of meters of Indian fish nets were cut; an Indian woman had fish guts thrown in her face at a fish market. As the fishing season continued Indian fishermen found that every time they set their nets they were subjected to angry, verbal abuse from sports anglers who claimed the Indians were taking all the fish.

While Chief Ralph Akiwenzie of the Chippewas of Nawash at Cape Croker has his suspicions about who may have been responsible for the incidents in 1995, he said things have settled down in recent years. He does not believe the sinking of Jones' fishing tug is related to the continuing dispute over Indian fishing rights.

"I'm not even going to conjecture that thought," Akiwenzie said.

Jones faces charges of fishing without a fishing license in band waters around the Bruce Peninsula in contravention of the Indian Act and a Cape Croker bylaw. He is to appear in court on April 14, one year to the day from the date of the charge.

The sunken tug has left an oil slick in the Lion's Head harbor, but Akiwenzie is confident that it will be cleaned up.

"The environmental impact will be very minimal," Akiwenzie said.

In November, Jones was charged with failing to remain at the scene of a motor vehicle accident in connection with the Nov. 13 hit and run death of a 17-year-old male on the reserve. That charge also is pending before the courts.