Richard Desautel, a Sinixt man from Washington state, won his case at the provincial court level. The province has since appealed it through several levels to the Supreme Court of Canada. File photo

Richard Desautel, a Sinixt man from Washington state, won his case at the provincial court level. The province has since appealed it through several levels to the Supreme Court of Canada. File photo

Supreme Court of Canada will hear Sinixt appeal May 12

B.C. has appealed Indigenous hunting case through several levels of court starting in Nelson in 2016

The province of B.C.’s appeal of a West Kootenay Indigenous hunting case will be heard May 12 by the Supreme Court of Canada.

According to the Sinixt First Nation’s lawyer Mark Underhill, the court will decide whether the Sinixt are an Indigenous people of Canada, capable of possessing constitutionally protected rights.

These questions first arrived in a Nelson courtroom in 2016 after a Sinixt man, Richard Desautel, a resident of Washington state, killed an elk near Castlegar in 2010.

He was charged with hunting as a non-resident and without a licence. Desautel fought these charges on aboriginal rights grounds, and successive judges in the B.C. Provincial Court, B.C. Supreme Court and B.C. Court of Appeal, have all ruled that Desautel had a right to hunt in B.C. and that the B.C. hunting laws he was charged with are an infringement of that right and therefore unconstitutional.

The case landed in each of these courts because the provincial government appealed each successive decision, now finally reaching the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Sinixt were declared extinct in Canada by the federal government in 1956 but have maintained active communities in Washington state.

The Provincial Court of B.C. is the only court in this series of hearings that has heard witnesses and evidence. Subsequent courts have only heard legal arguments about that evidence, and that will also be the case with the Supreme Court of Canada.

According to Underhill, the parties (the Sinixt and the province) will get an hour each in front of the judges in Ottawa, having already submitted written arguments.

The Attorneys General of several other provinces will be intervening in the case, and they will get 15 minutes, bolstered by written arguments already presented.

Any people or organizations other than provincial governments who wish to intervene must apply to the court in advance and may or may not be accepted. The court can then decide whether accepted intervenors must submit their arguments in writing or orally, in which case they get five minutes in front of the judges.

Several First Nations groups across Canada have applied for intervenor status. Underhill says that is because they also have cross-border claims, although they are not as dramatic as having been declared extinct.

Underhill expects the entire court hearing to take one day. It’s unknown how long the judges will take to make a decision.

If the Sinixt win, he said, it will mean they can hunt in Canada. However, it will also be a foot in the door for future decisions about other Sinixt rights in Canada.

Related:

• Sinixt hunting case accepted for hearing by Supreme Court of Canada

• Sinixt hunter acquitted in Nelson court

• U.S. hunter defends Sinixt rights in Nelson court

• Province loses Sinixt hunting appeal

• B.C. appeals Sinixt hunting case again

• B.C.’s top court upholds Sinixt rights in elk-hunting case

• Canada’s top court asked to hear appeal of Sinixt man’s hunting rights

• B.C. to be first to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 8 says a COVID-19 exposure has occurred at Nelson’s Rosemont Elementary. Photo: School District 8
Class at Nelson’s Rosemont Elementary in isolation after COVID-19 exposure

It’s not clear if any students or teachers were infected

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

BC Assessment stats show the majority of Baker Street properties are likely to be locally owned. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Data shows Nelson locals own majority of Baker Street properties

BC Assessment provided mailing address stats for the city’s main street

The toxic drug supply crisis was announced on April 14, 2016. File photo
Nelson demonstration to mark five years of toxic drug supply crisis

An information booth will also be available at ANKORS

Tyler’s facial expression was a bad idea.
VIDEO: Wednesday Roundup

This week we talk about a COVID school exposure and more on the transit hub

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Tagged grey whale off Vancouver Island given treatment after developing lesions

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read