A court case in Meadow Lake could lead to further clarification on how far Aboriginal rights cover in Saskatchewan.
Three men were charged from 2012 to 2014 with either hunting or angling without a license at least 30 kilometres away from their homes in Meadow Lake. However, the Metis men believe it is their Treaty right to hunt in northwestern Saskatchewan without needing a license.
Their case has garnered interest in the community, with more than 45 community witnesses speaking during 7 trial days.
Defense counsel Kathy Hodgson-Smith says the crown’s angle is also the Supreme Court of Canada’s statement in previous cases: that Aboriginal rights are site-specific.
However, Hodgson-Smith argues that the Metis community reaches throughout the province, so Metis people should have the right to hunt or fish without the requirement of a license.
This isn’t the first case involving Treaty rights and hunting. A Meadow Lake man was found not in violation of provincial regulations for fishing without a license because he was a member of the Northwest Saskatchewan Metis community.
A trial continuation is set for June in Meadow Lake, when historical experts will take the stand.