Conviction of Cree man for selling fish an infringement of treaty rights, say First Nation leaders - APTN NewsAPTN News

Conviction of Cree man for selling fish an infringement of treaty rights, say First Nation leaders

APTN file photo.

Justin Brake
APTN News
Indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan are calling the recent government sting of a Canoe Lake Cree First Nation man who sold fish a “waste of [government] resources to fight First Nations exercising their Inherent and Treaty Rights.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron says the provincial government’s undercover sting operation that resulted in the conviction of Donald Iron, a Canoe Lake band member, last month shows government is more interested in ignoring treaty rights than dealing with more serious issues.

“Hunting and fishing is a fundamental Treaty and Inherent Right and it was common for First Nations people to barter and exchange their resources,” Cameron said.

Iron was charged with three counts of illegally marketing fish after a conservation officer bartered tobacco for fish with the Cree man, and then made multiple purchases from Iron for white fish totalling $90.

“There are far more important issues to combat than a 16-month sting for $90 worth of fish,” Cameron said, adding government should be allocating resources to “arresting crystal meth and opioid dealers, who have created epidemics in our communities.

“Why aren’t these resources being better utilized fighting the highest drunk driving offences, the highest domestic violence offences or even the highest rates of youth smokers in the country?” he said.

Cameron said fishing is a “fundamental Treaty and inherent right [that] First Nations people have.”

“Our people have lived off the land, providing for their families and communities for generations, yet governments in this country continue to legislate what we can and cannot do on our own lands.”

Canoe Lake Chief Francis Iron says the way Donald Iron “asked for an exchange of tobacco for fish…is the right protocol in our culture and community,” adding they will “continue to fight for the rights of our band members.”

Meadow Lake Tribal Council Chief Richard Ben said in Wednesday’s FSIN release that “traditional land users have the right to provide for their families, without harassment, as they have done for generations in the North,” and that “many people in our communities rely on traditional practices like hunting and fishing for survival.

“These resources should be better utilized for the benefit of the people and not prosecuting our traditional land users,” Ben added.

FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear compared the sting to the province “[sending] in the cavalry to bust an Indian over $90 worth of fish.

She said the treaties “recognized that we have the right to pursue our usual vocations of hunting, fishing, and trapping,” but that the Saskatchewan government “continues to try to legislate away our rights.

“It is unjust and unfair to Treaty hunters and fishers that merely want to feed their families,” she said.

Cameron said he expects the “harassment of First Nations traditional land users” to escalate, especially in light of the fact conservation officers in the province are expected to soon be armed with semi-automatic carbine rifles.

Iron’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 14.

jbrake@aptn.ca
@JustinBrakeNews

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12 Responses to “Conviction of Cree man for selling fish an infringement of treaty rights, say First Nation leaders”

  1. agent_deth@hotmail.com'
    Boneskin February 10, 2019 at 1:03 am #

    The only reason our resources are dwindling is because of all you sport hunters killing for fun. Us native hunt for a way of life feed our families n friends. We don’t hunt to just mount it on our wall when we kill a moose nothing gets left behind but blood

  2. a*********@hotmail.com'
    Boneskin February 19, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    The only reason our resources are dwindling is because of all you sport hunters killing for fun. Us native hunt for a way of life feed our families n friends. We don’t hunt to just mount it on our wall when we kill a moose nothing gets left behind but blood

  3. mishrikyjan@gmail.com'
    jan mishriky February 8, 2019 at 2:20 am #

    When I first read about the 16 month sting over $90 of fish I thought this can’t be for reel. The next day I read this — the details in the judge’s decision were published in error to the Canadian Legal Information Institute and have since been removed. Why would there be a publication ban?

    And why on earth is The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment planning to arm it’s patrol officers with semi-automatic carbines later this year? That is disturbing.

    Premier Scott Moe, I just listened to your apology. I am sure you can understand why I am utterly confused by the mixed messages coming from Saskatchewan.

  4. m**********@gmail.com'
    jan mishriky February 19, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    When I first read about the 16 month sting over $90 of fish I thought this can’t be for reel. The next day I read this — the details in the judge’s decision were published in error to the Canadian Legal Information Institute and have since been removed. Why would there be a publication ban?

    And why on earth is The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment planning to arm it’s patrol officers with semi-automatic carbines later this year? That is disturbing.

    Premier Scott Moe, I just listened to your apology. I am sure you can understand why I am utterly confused by the mixed messages coming from Saskatchewan.

  5. lescurd45@yahoo.com'
    Les February 7, 2019 at 6:26 pm #

    The treaty states can not sell trade or barter fish or wild game yes I agree to hunting and fishing year round to feed the family and community but not to selling it if you need to sell it to get money get a job for your money as if we let everyone sell the meat it will not be long for the wildlife to disappear and be nothing left for our future generations to harvest

  6. maxcdm@yahoo.com'
    Max February 7, 2019 at 3:33 pm #

    In British Columbia first nations have right won in a court case now case law….so why not appeal this conviction on that information…is it so hard to find it…

  7. dougcamgeo@gmail.com'
    Cameron February 7, 2019 at 2:57 pm #

    It has been legislated that first nations can hunt and fish for food. That is not the issue here, it has been legislated for many years that they cannot sell wildlife, as this would turn an already dwindling resource into extinction. The fact this individual has any support in his ignorance is shameful.
    The resources have always been protected by the government and officers in order for first nations to use for sustenance not to make $90 which will probably be spent on the drugs or alcohol he mentioned so adamantly.
    Thank you to the Conservation Officers for their service, judgment and discretion on these matters.

  8. l********@yahoo.com'
    Les February 19, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    The treaty states can not sell trade or barter fish or wild game yes I agree to hunting and fishing year round to feed the family and community but not to selling it if you need to sell it to get money get a job for your money as if we let everyone sell the meat it will not be long for the wildlife to disappear and be nothing left for our future generations to harvest

  9. Janetwaters62@gmail.com'
    Janet February 7, 2019 at 11:09 am #

    Seriouslh this us where we are putting outlr resourses to catch a man selling fish worth 90.00 probably costed the goverment 30 thousand dollars to do that. So fed up with our system.

  10. m*****@yahoo.com'
    Max February 19, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    In British Columbia first nations have right won in a court case now case law….so why not appeal this conviction on that information…is it so hard to find it…

  11. d*********@gmail.com'
    Cameron February 19, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    It has been legislated that first nations can hunt and fish for food. That is not the issue here, it has been legislated for many years that they cannot sell wildlife, as this would turn an already dwindling resource into extinction. The fact this individual has any support in his ignorance is shameful.
    The resources have always been protected by the government and officers in order for first nations to use for sustenance not to make $90 which will probably be spent on the drugs or alcohol he mentioned so adamantly.
    Thank you to the Conservation Officers for their service, judgment and discretion on these matters.

  12. j************@gmail.com'
    Janet February 19, 2019 at 9:40 pm #

    Seriouslh this us where we are putting outlr resourses to catch a man selling fish worth 90.00 probably costed the goverment 30 thousand dollars to do that. So fed up with our system.