A land battle in British Columbia could afford indigenous people residing in the United States rights in Canada. Rick Desautel, an American citizen who identifies as Sinixt, shot an elk in Canada 40 miles north of the border, and the British Columbian government decided to bring charges to court. While they lost an appeal in December, they filed papers last month to appeal again — but The Guardian said the fight could have the unintended consequence of giving Native Americans new rights.
In 2010, Desautel shot an elk, dressed it, and packed the meat to his hunting camp in the western Canada forests. He called in the hunt to local conservation officers, and as a conservation officer himself, knew he’d receive tickets as an American citizen without permits to hunt in British Columbia, and then thought they’d be dropped. But the British Columbia government instead decided to take the charges to court. Over eight years, Desautel battled to show his indigenous heritage and right to hunt in the territory of his ancestors before country borders were drawn, according to The Guardian.
The Canadian government said the Sinixt First Nation went extinct in 1955, but Desautel identifies as one of the peoples whose territory once sprawled from Washington state into southern British Columbia. In March 2017, the court affirmed Desautel’s right to hunt in Canada and, according to The Guardian “restored the Sinixt’s legal status.”
The British Columbia government seems to want to keep fighting with their appeals. But this case could have unexpected consequences. According to The Guardian, experts think the Desautel ruling might apply to tens of thousands of people living in America, giving them hunting and fishing rights in Canada.
The Guardian said the British Columbia supreme court made the case about the border when they determined Desautel didn’t need to be a Canadian resident to be given hunting rights. The outlet said the United States-Canada border has acted as a barrier to recognizing the traditional lands of indigenous people.
Desautel said of the border, “It cuts off my relationship to my ancestors. I can go just as far as the border. After that, [the government] says I have no more past.”
Via The Guardian