Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs opposes any provincial legislation that bans night hunting; ban likely unconstitutional

May 16, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018

Treaty One Territory, MB. _ The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs opposes any proposed provincial legislation that would ban night hunting and spotlighting.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas warned the Manitoba Government today that a blanket ban on First Nations people exercising their right to hunt at night is an unjustified infringement of the Aboriginal and Treaty rights protected by section 35 of Canada’s Constitution; the requirements under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and Manitoba’s own The Path to Reconciliation Act.

“If the government wants to restrict night hunting, it can negotiate agreements with our First Nations, or include us in comprehensive co-management of natural resources. There are options available to the government to address this issue, but they require cooperation. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was not consulted on this ban being imposed by the province,” said Dumas.

The Supreme Court of Canada has previously addressed night hunting. In  R v Morris (2006 SCC 59), the Supreme Court rejected the idea that night hunting is inherently dangerous, and affirmed First Nations’ right to hunt at night. The Supreme Court said: “To conclude that night hunting with illumination is dangerous everywhere in the province does not accord with reality and is not, with respect, a sound basis for limiting the treaty right.”

Treaty 2 Grand Chief Norman Bone, Chief of Keeseekoowenin First Nation confirms that although consultation with Treaty 2 has begun, it has not been completed.

“We are currently in the consultation process with our own Treaty 2 citizens,” said Chief Bone. “This announcement is a complete disrespect for the consultation process.”

In response, the AMC held meetings with First Nations Elders and Chiefs, resulting in a resolution, that, among other things:

identified the need that Anishinaabe Law be applied to the discussion on night hunting;
noted that the Elders supports First Nations who have developed and codified their laws that sets out the protocols on hunting including night hunting;
called a Roundtable Discussion facilitated by the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba with the Anishinaabe Law as a basis of the discussion take place;
that the Treaty right to hunt not be altered, diminished or abrogated in anyway;
that, the recognition of food sovereignty and traditional diet of First Nation is taken as a priority; and
the Chiefs-in-Assembly support community and regional engagement, with the financial support of the province of Manitoba, to develop the critical discussion needed to ensure successful relationships are built in the context of treaty and Aboriginal rights to hunting.
Grand Chief Dumas concluded: “Any action taken by this government to ban night hunting by First Nations, which does not include the clear free, prior and informed consent of First Nations themselves will be illegitimate, unconstitutional and an unjustifiable infringement of our constitutionally protected rights. We will not stand idly by and allow that to happen.”