The Sask. Court of Queen’s Bench has overturned acquittals of First Nations subsistence hunters from Ontario, trying to assert Treaty hunting rights in the province.
Albert Green and Blair Hill of Six Nations were charged with unlawful hunting and possession of wildlife in October 2017, while hunting for big game west of Rocanville on private lands within Moose Mountain Provincial Park. Both men did not have valid hunting licenses for Saskatchewan, but asserted their Aboriginal Right to hunt.
The provincial court dismissed the charges ruling the men had a constitutionally protected right to hunt.
The Queen’s Bench reversed the acquittals and entered convictions against the men, finding the trial judge misinterpreted the limitations of Aboriginal People’s right to hunt.
The court examined the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, which is similar in the three prairie provinces.
The court found that Indigenous Peoples that are identified to Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10 have the constitutional right to hunt in Saskatchewan, regardless if they reside in the province, and that the province only has an obligation to the secure subsistence fish and game to Indigenous people within its geographical jurisdiction.
“The learned trial judge relied upon this aspect of Frank to conclude that any Indian in Canada “irrespective of normal residence” was able to invoke the entitlement to hunt for food in Saskatchewan granted by s. 12 of the NRTA, and by implication in the other prairie provinces, without complying with applicable provincial wildlife legislation,” stated the ruling.
The court found that while both men are indeed Treaty First Nations members, they do not belong to a Treaty within the prairie provinces and therefore cannot invoke hunting rights within Saskatchewan.
Sentencing has been remitted back to the Provincial Court.