Legal Opinion to Appeal Court Ruling Against Hunter by AMC

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).

Treaty One Territory (Winnipeg, MB) – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are seeking a legal opinion to appeal a provincial court ruling against two Anishinabe Indigenous hunters hunting in their treaty area in Saskatchewan.

In late 2015, Indigenous hunters were on the land in Treaty territories in the provincial jurisdiction of Saskatchewan. After firing upon a moose, the hunters attempted to retrieve their kill. A racially charged non- Indigenous male immediately confronted them. He purported that the swamp that the moose had fallen in was his ‘private property’ and that the moose were now ‘his property’.

While the Indigenous treaty hunters retrieved their kill and left the area, the man taunted the hunters with racial slurs and misinformed,  uneducated assumptions. Following this incident, the province of Saskatchewan brought charges against two Indigenous Treaty hunters.

The two Anishinabe men entered pleas on reduced charges.

“The settler community needs to understand the limits of notions of private property in treaty lands. The concept of private property is limited by Crown obligations not only to pay taxes on the lands under title, but also to not interfere with indigenous treaty hunters in the carrying out of their vocation of hunting safely. This  is guaranteed by treaty. Failure on the part of land titleholders to observe obligations of the Crown under Treaty should be addressed to the same standard afforded other Crown obligations. This would demonstrate a commitment by the Crown to implement reconciliation in a practical manner consistent with the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” stated Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak stated, “The provincial judicial systems actions of intimidating and threatening individuals in the exercise of collective treaty based rights is unjust, and needs to be challenged to the fullest extent of available options due to the detrimental impacts upon indigenous culture, physical health and access to ancestral lands.”

In recent weeks, attention has shifted to the matter of access to moose in the northern plains and parkland areas of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Significant misunderstandings continue to limit the building of strong treaty based relationships. In the spirit of the calls to action under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and recommendations, agreed upon laws need to reflect balance and equality. To this end,  the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is seeking legal options to escalate this matter to seek balance in the management of relationships on treaty lands.