By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com
Chief Allan Adam, grand chief of Justice for Treaty 8 nations, says he’s tired of his people being “portrayed as criminals” for hunting and fishing, as is their right to do, without provincial licenses.
He also says he’s tired of “fish cops (that) are more racist than the RCMP.”
Last month, the Sovereign Nations of Treaty No. 8 launched a campaign introducing incident report forms in an effort to capture every time—past and current—that members have been “harassed, racially profiled, or discriminated against … while expressing (their) inherent harvesting rights” by the RCMP, Fish and Wildlife officers, Conservation officers, sheriffs, government employees and others.
Adam, who is also chief for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said Treaty 8 members “are being harassed by fish cops (Fish and Wildlife officers), asking them for a hunting license or fishing license and the Grand Chief (Arthur Noskey) is saying these are treaty obligations. We don’t need to provide any fishing license or hunting license because this is all under treaty.”
A news release from the Sovereign Nations of Treaty No. 8 states, “Our forefathers entered into an international treaty on June 21, 1899. Nation members on Treaty No. 8 Territory are beneficiaries of guaranteed rights, responsibilities, promises, and obligations to be adhered to by the Crown. Our way of life is to be protected and retained under Treaty No. 8—recognized and affirmed under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982.”
The news release goes on to state that The Wildlife Act, RSA 2000, CW-10, the Fisheries (Alberta) Act, RSA 2000, C F-16, or the federal statute, and the Fisheries Act RSC 1985, C F-14 “do not apply to us, as they are contradictory to the terms and good faith set out in Treaty No. 8.”
Adam says charges for harvesting without a license force Treaty 8 members to appear in court.
“Then when the First Nations go to court on these issues, the court withdraws all the charges. So what’s happening is that the fish cops, as we call them, are wasting taxpayers’ money and going after First Nations people when they have no jurisdiction to go after them because we’re practicing our inherent rights where we are going fishing to harvest to feed our family,” he said.
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