Important hunting right case in courts
- Katie Doke Sawatzky | May 05, 2017
A hearing at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Swift Current on May 4 may affect rights for Treaty hunters who hunt on private land.
Treaty hunter Kristjan Pierone was charged in 2015 for hunting without a license on private land in Treaty 4 territory near Swift Current. Pierone is a status Indian from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Treaty 5 territory in Manitoba. On the day he was hunting, he shot a bull moose in a slough bottom on land owned by Benmoen Farming Company Limited.
In 2016, the Provincial court ruled Pierone was not guilty because there was no posting on the land, and the land had no visible use, a precedent set by a case called Badger. The court also ruled that Pierone’s rights under the Indian Act, the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act allow him to hunt in Treaty 4. The Crown appealed the decision, arguing the judge misapplied the leading case law.
In a press release from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Chief Bobby Cameron said, “We will be closely monitoring the results of this decision, and will be discussing a strategy to ensure that our Treaty hunters’ rights are protected,” said Chief Cameron.
Depending on the results of this case, someone with Treaty status could hunt on private land if it isn’t being put to visible use.
In a briefing note prepared by the FSIN’s Lands and Resources Secretariat, the organization quotes the Ministry of Environment’s Saskatchewan Guide for Treaty and Aboriginal Rights for Hunting and Fishing.
The guide states that people who want to hunt, fish or trap for food must be registered under the Indian Act and carry a status card. Pierone meets both of these criteria.
The briefing states, “It is unclear why the Crown argued against their own policy/guidelines. It now appears that the Crown is attempting to limit even further treaty hunting for food by treaty territory.”