The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for further education from the provincial government on Indigenous hunting rights, following a ruling by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.
Kristjan Pierone, an Indigenous man from Manitoba, was charged with unlawful hunting after killing a bull moose in a slough near Swift Current in 2015. The moose was shot less than 100 meters off a roadway on privately held land. Pierone pleaded not guilty and was aquitted.
“I shot a bull moose on the slough bottom that was on uncultivated farmer’s land, so I didn’t see a big deal shooting this bull moose,” Pierone said.
The judge’s ruling was appealed and Pierone was convicted of violating the Wildlife Act. The case then went to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, and on April 27, the conviction was overturned.
“When inherent and treaty rights were signed, it guaranteed us hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering; that succeeds all provincial and federal laws,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said.
According to his lawyer, Pierone wasn’t given permission to hunt on the land, but the land wasn’t posted and appeared to have been uncultivated for many years; the court found that Pierone had a right of access to the specific slough bottom.
“I feel like my rights have been violated for the last three years.” Pierone said.
The FSIN says the case was a waste of taxpayer dollars, and that the decision upholds their treaty right to hunt.
“We hunt to continue on our culture, our way of life, good nutrition, to sustain our families, our homes and our communities,” FSIN vice-chief Heather Bear said. “To stop us from doing that is wrong, it’s a total infringement upon our rights.”
The FSIN is now calling for more education from the provincial government around treaty hunting rights to prevent further incidents like Pierone’s case.
“The treaty and inherent rights that we have as First Nations, Indigenous, Treaty Indians; that has to be taught, not only with our ministers, but people on the ground like conservation officers, and police officers.” Bear said.
While there is no official word there will be further legal action, Pierone and his lawyer said they are prepared to go to the Supreme Court if necessary.