The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling on Saskatchewan Environment to apologize after an alleged raid was conducted at an elder’s home.
Elder Doug Morningchild and his wife were apparently preparing for a ceremonial gathering and feast on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation near Loon Lake on October 7, 2021, when multiple law enforcement vehicles surrounded their home.
When Morningchild confronted the officers and asked if they had a search warrant, the conservation officers told him they did have one; however, they were not able to produce it because it was left at their office.
Officers then allegedly proceeded to break the locks on a large deep freezer and confiscate all the wild meat from inside.
According to Morningchild, the provincial Ministry of Environment claimed they were searching for moose meat that was obtained on private land.
Morningchild attended court proceedings related to the raid on January 26, 2023, where apparently the charges against him were dismissed by the judge due to a technicality.
According to FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, there is an urgent need to recognize First Nations Inherent and Treaty rights.
“It is disgraceful that one of our elders’ homes was swarmed and invaded by Ministry of Environment Conservation Officers while they were preparing for a ceremony. We are dismayed that, after promises of reconciliation, a miscarriage of justice like this occurred. We need recognition of First Nations inherent and treaty rights from the province of Saskatchewan. The Treaties that our ancestors signed guarantee our rights to hunt, fish, trap, and gather year-round to feed our families and for ceremonies. FSIN stands behind Doug Morningchild and his wife, their nation, and others who are being treated similarly when exercising their inherent and treaty rights. We call for more education and policy reforms to ensure no other First Nations people suffer through a traumatizing event such as this,” said Cameron.
To prevent similar incidents in the future, the FSIN is calling for reforms to the ministry’s protocols and more education within Saskatchewan Environment about inherent and treaty rights.
“What happened to Doug Morningchild and his wife is unacceptable, and it cannot continue. We respect and cherish our elders, especially when their homes and rights are violated; it erodes our relationships with governments. It is the exact opposite of what reconciliation is about. Many of our people continue to live off the land, and hunting is a fundamental promise under the Treaty. When an elder’s home is raided and they are treated like criminals, it tells me the government’s promises are empty and they aren’t serious about respecting First Nations inherent and treaty rights,” said FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear, Lands and Resources portfolio holder.
Morningchild is exploring legal action for punitive damages; however, lawyers have said that the cost of pursuing legal action in court would cost more than the value of the meat that was confiscated.