APTN National News
On December 15, 2015, multiple RCMP cars rolled up to the home of chief Charlie Boucher of the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba armed with warrants and the K-9 unit.
The police were after Boucher and his cousin, George Lamirande.
Ten days earlier, on Dec. 5, the two were hunting in Saskatchewan. They shot a moose and brought it back home to their First Nation in Manitoba.
According to documents obtained by APTN National News, police, on behalf of Saskatchewan conservation officers, came looking for the moose meat, hunting equipment such as knives, axes, saws, and two rifles, a 30-06 and 30-30.
Boucher told Nation to Nation’s Nigel Newlove that he and his cousin shot the moose on Crown land.
“We have inherent rights, we’re sovereign,” Boucher said.
The warrant, addressed to Boucher and issued in Saskatchewan, lists two counts of unlawfully possessing and transporting moose meet over provincial boundaries.
According to Boucher’s Winnipeg based lawyer Christina Cook, there are issues with the legality of the warrants.
“Not only was he (Boucher) on Crown land, both the hunting ground and the reserves are Treaty 4 territory,” said Cook. “They infringed upon a Treaty right.”
The province of Saskatchewan is currently waiting for results from DNA and ballistic testing before deciding on whether to charge the two men.
They are taking DNA samples from the meat and comparing it to blood taken from the site where the animals were harvested.
Ken Aube, Saskatchewan’s chief of enforcement and investigations, would not say if the blood samples were taken from private or Crown land.
Ballistic testing is also being done to compare the bullet that killed the animal to the rifle or rifles that were confiscated.
The Pine Creek First Nation sits on the shores of Lake Winnipegosis, 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
According to Aube, Crown land in Saskatchewan is open to all First Nation hunters from Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. Pine Creek is a signatory to Treaty #4.
The province won’t say when the investigation will wrap up, but according to Aube, “it won’t be for a while.”
Aube said the meat is currently in storage and will remain there until the case is closed or no charges are laid.
If the hunters are found guilty, it will be donated to needy families or a food bank, according to Aube.
Boucher said this is far from over.
“The families in Pine Creek need answers, and same with our government,” he said. “I’m the chief and our council needs to understand why a different jurisdiction from Saskatchewan came into Manitoba and into Pine Creek First Nation. We’re federal how did they determine get authorization to come to Pine Creek without process?”
“We now have legal representation,” he said.
Christina Cook said these cases have a far reaching effect.
“There must be a chilling effect on people feeling comfortable going out to hunt given their own chief is being searched and harassed,” she said.
Boucher is the second person on the four member Pine Creek council to face hunting charges. The other charge is from Manitoba.