The Saskatchewan government wants to take a treaty hunting case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 2015, Kristjan Pierone shot a bull moose in a slough on private land off a roadway near Swift Current. Pierone was later charged with unlawful hunting; he pleaded not guilty and was acquitted.
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The judge’s ruling was later appealed and Pierone was convicted of violating the Wildlife Act. The case then went to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and on April 27, Pierone’s conviction was overturned.
According to Pierone’s 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 he had a right of access to the specific slough bottom.
However, the provincial government disagreed with the ruling and a notice of appeal was served to Pierone and his lawyer on June 19.
“They couldn’t stand the fact our treaty rights were upheld in their court system,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said. “Now the ignorance and the disrespect that’s shown by appealing and going to the Supreme Court, it’s pretty frustrating to be honest.”
Pierone’s counsel wasn’t involved in the first two levels of adjudication, but did represent him at the Court of Appeal level. He said he wasn’t expecting the provincial government to file another appeal, but can understand their position due to the complexity of the case.
“I know it’s presented a lot of complex issues,” Pierone’s lawyer Dusty Ernewein said. “It’s perfectly within their legal options given the nature of (the case) and the high level legal issues that were presented, I could understand their position to do so.”
The FSIN is calling the appeal a waste of taxpayers dollars, saying inherent treaty rights trump provincial law.
“This was an open and shut case twice in the provincial court system,” Cameron said. “They’re wasting your taxpayers money.”
While the Cameron said this appeal isn’t helpful to Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships, the FSIN is vowing to stand up for their hunters.
“We’re going to go this distance for all our treaty hunters, our fishers, trappers and gatherers,” Cameron said.
At this year’s spring assembly, the FSIN is called for more education from the provincial government around treaty hunting rights to prevent further incidents like Pierone’s case.
There’s no word on when or if the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.