WE WERE HERE FIRST

It is not often that judges are called upon to rectify centuries old injustices. But as illustrated by a story written by   Amanda Coletta, perhaps the Supreme Court of Canada will be called upon to decide what to do about indigenous people who were here first.

It was a frosty October morning when Richard Desautel aimed his Mauser 98 bolt-action rifle at a cow elk in the Arrow Lakes area of British Columbia, shot the animal dead and phoned wildlife conservation officers to report what he’d done.That call, made a decade ago this month, set into motion a plan that was years in the making. Authoritiescharged Desautel, a U.S. citizen and member of the Lakes Tribe of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state, with hunting without a license and hunting big game while not a resident of British Columbia.It was what Desautel wanted. It gave him the opportunity to argue thathe was exercising his right under Canada’s constitution to hunt for ceremonial purposes on the traditional land of his ancestors, the Sinixt, an Indigenous group that Canada declared extinct more than 60 years ago.
Canadian government inquiry assails ‘genocide’ of Indigenous women, girls Now he’ll argue his case before Canada’s Supreme Court, in a proceeding that could have sweeping implications for Indigenous groups on both sides of the border. A victory could give more Native Americans in the United States the right to use their tribes’ traditional lands in Canada.

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