A government decision to arm conservation officers with assault rifles could increase violence between Indigenous people and authorities, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says.

Conservation officers are already armed with a pistol, rifle and OC spray but the Ministry of Environment claims they need even more firepower.

As a result, the government is in the process of purchasing as many as 147 high powered semi-automatic weapons.

However, FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear says there is absolutely no proof conservation officers need the weapons and it could lead to disastrous results.

“Arming Saskatchewan conservation officers with assault rifles could result in potentially disastrous situations,” she says. “This is a time when the Boushie family, for example, and First Nations are still healing from the death of Colten Boushie.”

The FSIN also calls the move “an assault on inherent and treaty rights.”

Bear says Indigenous people are already having to deal with potential changes to the Trespass to Property Act and this will be another violation of the treaty right to hunt.

And the purchase is being made without any consultation with Indigenous people, she says.

“I really wish the province had said something to the lands and resources commission (of the FSIN). I mean we have meetings and these changes are happening without the proper consultations of our First Nations leaders.”

Environment claims conservation officers need the extra firepower as they face “increasingly dangerous situations.”