Treaty Right to Hunt, Fish, Trap, and Gather

Treaty Right to Hunt, Fish, Trap, and Gather

The Treaties contained clauses, which confirmed a right of hunting and fishing throughout the territory, which the various bands gave up. The following is the hunting clause from Treaty 6:

“ Her Majesty further agrees with her said Indians that they, the said Indians, shall have right to pursue their avocations of hunting and fishing throughout the tract surrendered as herein before described, subject to such regulations as may from time to time be made by her Government of her Dominion of Canada and saving and excepting such tracts as may from time to time be required or taken up for settlement, mining, lumbering or other purposes by her said Government of the Dominion of Canada or by any of the subjects thereof, duly authorized therefore, by the said Government.”

The promises that were made in the Treaties were reinforced in 1982 when the Constitution Act, 1982 included Section 35 which covers The Rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

The Treaty right to Hunt, Fish, Trap and Gather is to last for time immemorial.

First Nations believe that the Treaties were agreements to ensure the livelihood of the parties. That the newcomers would depend on agriculture and domestic animals and that First Nations would be given a choice to continue to practice their traditional lifestyles while at the same time accepting the education and agricultural expertise of the newcomers that would allow them to share in the development of a new way of life. This assurance to First Nations of a continuation of livelihood means that the HFTG activities could be for subsistent or commercial use.   The assurance of HFTG also means to First Nations that they could continue to harvest game and natural resources with no outside interference; limited to only the First Nations laws regarding resource use.

The assurance of livelihood also meant for First Nations that they would be able to practice these rights on all lands to which they had previously accessed except the occupied lands. First Nations believe that there should be no boundaries on their lands from which they derive a livelihood, with reference to the provincial and territorial boundaries. The First Nations recognize that they had their own territorial lines which were respected by other First Nations. They are seeking that these traditional lands be identified and be under First Nations’ jurisdiction to ensure proper management.

First Nations also recall the specific capital and financial resources granted by the Crown to assist them in harvesting their natural resources. These specific Treaty promises included ammunition, twine, netting and copper wire. They are both real items to assist in the HFTG lifestyle but are also symbols of Crown’s assurance to the First Nations’ right to harvest the natural resources. The issuance of ammunition is also suggests that the Crown acknowledges that First Nations have a right to firearms, as one of their traditional means to hunt.

First Nations also recalled that the protection and conservation of the natural resources for the use of First Nations is another specific Treaty obligation made by the Crown. First Nations believe that the Crown agreed to provide protection and means to conserve the game, fish and other natural resources for the future generations of First Nations people. The current legal structures; laws and regulations have all undermined First Nations’ perceptive of Treaty. First Nations cite the most resented laws include the 1930 Natural resource Transfer Agreement; the federal gun control laws and the provincial laws on wildlife, forestry, fisheries and trapping.

First Nations are seeking jurisdiction and authority to protect HFTG for future generations. First Nations want recognition and the jurisdiction to practice traditional management of their lands. They are also seeking validation that the Treaty right to HFTG includes commercial as well as subsistence practices. First Nations also want to codify their people’ traditional lands to be able to protect and conserve the resources of their lands.

First Nations want priority rights to the commercial harvesting of natural resources be   affirmed as part of the implementation of the Treaty right to HFTG.

First Nations want acknowledgement that Treaty harvesting rights applied throughout their traditional homelands without regard to territorial and provincial boundaries.

First Nations are seeking the restoration of the specific benefits of ammunition, twine, netting and copper wire and are also seeking the removal of Gun control laws for Treaty First Nations.

Treaty First Nations suggested that the following problems need to be addressed: the dwindling area over which such traditional livelihood activities may take place; dwindling supplies of medicinal plants, fish, and wildlife; pollution and environmental damage; lack of exposure of many Treaty First Nations to traditional activities (inadequate training of parents and youth); and competition from non-Aboriginal people (such as commercial fishing operations at the location of traditional fishing camps).

First Nations are seeking the establishment of measures to ensure that First Nations are consulted, and receive compensation, a share of the revenues, or other benefits from resource development that interferes with resource harvesting within their traditional territories.

First Nations are asking for a review and reform of all federal and provincial legislation and regulations that impact on their Treaty right to HFTG. The reform should include the 1930 Natural Resource Transfer Agreement; the federal gun control laws and the provincial laws on wildlife, forestry, fisheries and trapping and then expand into other related laws. The intent of the review is to harmonize First Nations’ perceptive of Treaty with the federal and provincial laws and to reform all current laws and regulations concerning fish, wildlife and fauna to recognize the absolute priority of Treaty First Nations’ rights to HFTG on lands which are not recognized.