Richard Desautel (centre) was originally charged under the Wildlife Act with hunting without a licence and hunting big game while not a resident of B.C. after he shot and killed an elk near Castlegar in 2010. (Bill Metcalfe/Black Press Media)

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

Richard Desautel was originally charged under the Wildlife Act with hunting without a licence

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has upheld an American Indigenous man’s rights to hunt in Canada because his ancestors traditionally did so.

Richard Desautel was originally charged under the Wildlife Act with hunting without a licence and hunting big game while not a resident of B.C. after he shot and killed an elk near Castlegar in 2010.

READ MORE: B.C. appeals Sinixt hunting case again

Desautel, a member of the Lakes Tribe in Washington state, argued in provincial court that he was exercising his constitutional right to hunt for ceremonial purposes.

The Lakes Tribe was described in court as a “successor group” to the Sinixt people, who lived, hunted and gathered in B.C.’s Kootenay region prior to first contact with European settlers.

The B.C. Supreme Court confirmed his right in 2017 and the Appeal Court re-affirmed it in a ruling released today.

In dismissing the Crown’s appeal, Justice Daphne Smith says hunting in what is now British Columbia was a central and significant part of the Sinixt’s distinctive culture before European contact and remains integral to the Lakes Tribe.

The Canadian Press

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