Indigenous hunters say treaty rights being violated by Saskatchewan
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said indigenous hunters have been ticketed with non-compliance orders and harassed by farmers who feel the men have been trespassing for decades. (File image)
Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2016 2:10PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 6, 2016 4:56PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Indigenous hunters say they are being harassed and bullied by Saskatchewan authorities who don't understand their treaty right to provide food for their families.
The chief of Pine Creek First Nation said conservation officers raided two homes last month and confiscated moose meat harvested from their traditional territory, which crosses the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary.
Charlie Boucher said no charges have been laid but his people are being denied their inherent right to feed their families. Indigenous people were hunting on the land long before Canada or its provinces existed, he said.
"The Creator gave me that authority to harvest and take," Boucher said. "I beg for us to be understood."
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said indigenous hunters have been ticketed with non-compliance orders and harassed by farmers who feel the men have been trespassing for decades.
He said the two Pine Creek reserve homes were raided on Dec. 15 -- the same day the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report.
"This has to stop," he said. "This is an age of reconciliation."
While diabetes rates are soaring among First Nations, Nepinak said his people are being denied access to traditional, healthy food. At the same time, he said Saskatchewan hands out thousands of moose tags to sport hunters every year.
"The Saskatchewan government is actively encouraging people to take down 6,000 moose for sport hunting every year but meanwhile, they are out there harassing our hunters that come from the treaty territories."
A spokesperson from Saskatchewan's Environment Ministry wasn't immediately available for comment.
Kevin Hart, Manitoba regional chief with the Assembly of First Nations, said he's disgusted by the "silent war" on the rights of his people. Hart said, as long as he can remember, he has hunted and gathered in various territories including Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
At times, Hart said he was accompanied by Manitoba's deputy premier, Eric Robinson.
"We've exercised our rights to hunt on the land," Hart said. "It's very disturbing in this day and age that our inherent and treaty rights are being infringed upon."