An American Indigenous man’s right to hunt in Canada has been upheld by a judge because his ancestors traditionally hunted in this country.
Richard Desautel was charged with violations under British Columbia’s Wildlife Act after he shot and killed a cow elk near Castlegar, B.C. in 2010.
Desautel, a member of the Lakes Tribe in Washington state, argued in provincial court that he was exercising his constitutional right to hunt for ceremonial purposes. He was acquitted of the charges in March.
But the Crown appealed to the B.C. Supreme Court, arguing that Desautel is not an Aboriginal person of Canada because the First Nation he claims to be a member of was declared extinct, so he doesn’t have that constitutional right.
Justice Robert Sewell has dismissed the appeal, saying Desautel’s tribe traditionally lived on both sides of the border and it has deep connections to its territory in Canada.
Sewell’s written decision says denying the group’s rights would be inconsistent with the objective of reconciliation, because the group occupied the land before European settlers came into contact with First Nations and continued to use the territory after an international boundary was imposed.