Sinixt hunter acquitted in Nelson court

The historic case, which could redefine the status of the Sinixt in Canada, will probably be appealed.

Acquitted Sinixt hunter Richard Desautel outside the Nelson courtroom after the decision

Acquitted Sinixt hunter Richard Desautel outside the Nelson courtroom after the decision

A Provincial Court judge in Nelson has acquitted Sinixt hunter Richard Desautel of hunting without a licence and hunting without being a resident.

Desautel is a resident of Washington State, charged in B.C. after killing an elk near Castlegar in 2010.

Judge Lisa Mrozinsky, following a trial last fall that lasted three weeks, found that Desautel had an aboriginal right to hunt in the Sinixt traditional territory and that the B.C. hunting laws he was charged with are an infringement of that right.

Outside the courtroom today, Desautel said both sides had strong cases and he was not sure how it would go.

“Tradition and honour and the history of where we came from has to be the basis of the decision. So this is good, and I love it.”

The Sinixt were declared extinct in Canada by the federal government in the 1950s.

The Star will be posting a more detailed story later today.