POLITICS

N.S. woman heads out to sea after human rights complaint win

06/30/2015 11:41 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT
A Nova Scotia woman who won a human rights complaint against her home community for denying her a fishing license because of her gender is heading out to sea after all.

Stacey Marshall Tabor says the Millbrook First Nation informed her that she would be sailing as a deckhand on a snow crab boat on Tuesday.

The assignment came after years of infighting that culminated in a discrimination finding by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

In April, the Tribunal ruled that Tabor had repeatedly been passed over for fishing boat positions in favour of male candidates, some of whom were less qualified than her.

The tribunal also said Tabor was subjected to derogatory remarks, citing an instance when a senior band member said "the only place for women's breasts on a boat was on the bow as a figurehead."

Millbrook band administrator Alex Cope says there was no special reason for Tabor's assignment, adding she applied for the job and was accepted.

For Tabor, however, the decision feels more significant.

"I did it. I got where I want to be," she said in a telephone interview. "My dream is to be on the boat, and regardless of all the obstacles and years, I'm there."

The April 29 tribunal ruling lays out a long and fraught history between Tabor and the Millbrook First Nation dating back to the late 1990s. The ruling said Tabor, who had long cherished a dream of becoming a fishing boat captain and who had completed a Master Limited captain's training course, began working for the Millbrook First Nation in 2000 by serving as a deckhand on a lobster boat.

According to testimony accepted by the tribunal, Tabor then expressed an interest in taking on more demanding fishing jobs, but was told she lacked qualifications.

Months later, the decision said, that same work was offered to Tabor's husband despite the fact that his only fishery experience was "preparing gear and painting buoys."

Tabor said she's content to be going out as a deck hand rather than a captain, adding she needs to recertify some of her qualifications.

She is, however, nervous about the upcoming assignment. She said one of her soon-to-be crew members made expletive-laden Facebook posts about her in the past, saying he would never fish with her.

"Are they setting me up for failure?" she mused. "Am I ever going to be good enough?"