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OLCN says repeal Sask trespass law, Justice ministry says law cannot affect Treaty rights

“The amendments to the trespass law are a direct attack to our Treaty right to livelihood by the Government of Saskatchewan. We remind the Saskatchewan Government that Treaty 6 is an international Treaty that guaranteed we would continue to practice our way of life forever without interference.”

Okimaw Henry Lewis of Onion Lake Cree Nation says the First Nation is calling on the Saskatchewan government  to immediately repeal the amendments to the Trespass to Property Act.  In a statement the leader says they stand with all Treaty First Nations in the defence of their Treaty rights.

Lewis continues that the new law will result in band members being fined up to $25,000 or incarcerated for up to 6 months for carrying out activities they have always done and activities guaranteed under Treaty. Lewis says they will maintain their way of life guaranteed under Treaty rights.

“Our peoples understand what their treaty rights are and they will continue to carry out activities essential to their livelihood, guaranteed by the Crown in our Treaty.”

Lewis noted that OLCN attended the Saskatchewan Legislature December 7th to express their disapproval of the Government’s legislation which came into effect on January 1st. Lewis says that the legislation was passed without their free, prior and informed consent.

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The OLCN opposition to the Saskatchewan Trespass law joins a call from another group that has criticized the measure on similar grounds. As MyLloydminsterNow has previously reported, the Treaty Land Sharing Network sees the new law as creating obstacles to the implementation of Canada’s shared treaties.

In an email to MyLloydminsterNow, the Saskatchewan Justice ministry indicates that “the amendments were never intended to affect Treaty hunting and fishing rights and that by law, cannot affect those rights.”

The Justice ministry statement continues that “First Nations hunting and fishing rights are Constitutional rights that are set out in the Treaties and are protected by the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement of 1930.”

Citing the Legislation Act in Saskatchewan 2-43 and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 the Justice spokesperson says, “Whether First Nations people have a right of access to any particular lands will continue to be governed by the Treaties, the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, and the court decisions that have interpreted those rights.”

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