Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron says he is pleased that the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has overturned a hunting conviction of a Treaty 5 First Nations hunter from Manitoba for hunting a moose on private land near Swift Current.

Kristjan Pierone was charged with unlawfully hunting in September 2015. He pleaded not guilty, claiming he was exercising his treaty right to hunt for food on private land.

The land where Pierone hunted was owned by a large farming company. There were no advertisements of “no hunting” in the area and Pierone did not acquire permission to be on the land. However, it appeared that the land was not cultivated for several years.

The legal question the appeals court considered was whether First Nations hunters can access land not taken up.

“I find no error in the trial judge’s conclusion. In my assessment, the evidence did not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the slough was being put to a visible use that was incompatible with hunting,” said Justice J.A. Caldwell in his ruling.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron says the ruling reaffirms that First Nations peoples have inherent treaty rights.

“Our inherent treaty rights supersede provincial and federal law,” said Cameron. “That was our message from day one.”

The original trial judge concluded that First Nations hunters are not limited to the boundaries of their treaty when harvesting, stating that Pierone from Treaty 5 could hunt in Treaty 4.

Cameron says this ruling highlights the need for more communication and education about First Nations rights.

“Everything that we do as an organization, and as a First Nation, all of the sectors fall under the umbrella of inherent treaty rights. So it’s a communication piece, it’s an education piece,” said Cameron.

(PHOTO: Court. Photo courtesy of sasklawcourts.ca)