Mi'kmaq chief to get pardon, apology years after death, conviction for hunting

Published on February 16, 2017

HALIFAX — A unique ceremony is being held today to pardon and honour a Mi'kmaq grand chief who passed away in the 1960s, decades after he was convicted of illegal hunting.

Gabriel Sylliboy will receive only the second posthumous pardon in Nova Scotia history, after black civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond.

The province will also apologize to Sylliboy at a ceremony at Government House in Halifax.

Sylliboy was born in 1874 in Whycocomagh, Cape Breton, and became the first elected Mi'kmaq grand chief and passionate advocate for treaty rights.

He was convicted of hunting illegally in the late 1920s, but took his fight to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, claiming treaty rights as his defence.

He lost, but the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the Mi'kmaq people's treaty rights decades later.

The Canadian Press