Indigenous hunters concerned by new Sask. trespassing laws
Indigenous hunters in the province of Saskatchewan are raising concerns over new trespassing laws introduced in the legislature earlier this week.
The legislation will provide legal protection for landowners against property damage caused by a trespasser. The government says the amendments to the Trespass Property Act, the Snowmobile Act and the Wildlife Act will ensure consistency in rules about trespassing, and will move the onus of responsibility from the landowner to people seeking access to those lands.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says the change will complicate relationships between Indigenous people and rural landowners.
Aaron Tootoosis has been hunting since he was 12 years old to provide for his family. He chooses traditional foods over store-bought options. But now he’s worried his treaty right to hunt is being threatened.
Tootoosis says he doesn’t believe the provincial law should supersede Treaty 4. He also said it has become more difficult for him to feed his family due to “No Trespassing” signs posted on land that isn’t in use.
“Land was never discussed at the discussions of Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6,” he said. “So, we never gave up the land and you couldn’t tell a Cree person at the time of the treaty that the terms of surrender yield release. Those are concepts that never existed within our people because we have never surrendered.”
“There is no duty to consult on something that does not interfere or affect treaty rights,” Justice Minister Don Morgan said. “This puts our province in line virtually with every other province in the country. We certainly reached out to them. We wanted to meet with them.”
Morgan wants to meet with FSIN to discuss concerns about the trespassing law amendments. A date has yet to be set.
With files from The Canadian Press