Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron speaks to media in Battleford, Sask., Friday, February 9, 2018. The chief representing First Nations in Saskatchewan says new proposed trespass legislation leaves the door open for many altercations. Bobby Cameron says there was no consultation with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations for the legislation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Saskatchewan proposes controversial trespass law

The law would require landowner permission which could lead to clashes

A First Nations leader says proposed Saskatchewan legislation that would require people to get permission before going on private land could lead to clashes and even deaths.

Chief Bobby Cameron with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said a man was found hunting on Kawacatoose First Nation land on Tuesday. Cameron said the man was told he didn’t have permission to hunt there and was escorted off. But it may not always be that simple, the chief said.

“Had it been the other way around, I don’t know if a farmer would have been that kind or that patient.”

The proposed changes to trespassing laws were introduced Tuesday, more than two years after Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, was killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan.

Earlier this year, a jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder after he testified his gun went off accidentally when he was trying to scare off some young people who drove onto his property.

RELATED: Saskatchewan farmer acquitted in death of Indigenous man guilty of gun charge

“We hope there are no more tragedies, we really hope,” Cameron said. ”But if they do, this provincial government should also say, we will be held liable if someone dies because of this trespassing legislation.”

Justice Minister Don Morgan said the proposed law balances the rights of rural landowners and the public. The legislation would provide legal protection for landowners against property damage caused by a trespasser.

A recent survey released by the province showed 65 per cent of respondents said people should ask landowners for permission before they go onto private land.

“Our goal … is protecting landowners, not necessarily protecting the rights of somebody that wants to come onto the land,” Morgan said in Regina.

He said the legislation would put rural land on par with urban land where owners don’t have to prove that a property was fenced or marked. Not being able to find somebody is no excuse to go on the land without permission, he added.

“I would hope that landowners would adopt a reasonable position and make themselves available,” Morgan said.

Cameron said it’s unfortunate the province didn’t consult the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and decided to base the proposed changes on the survey’s results.

He predicted the proposal, if passed, will create headaches because First Nation lands and roads are used by non-Indigenous people.

“You mean to tell me that every farmer and rancher and agriculturalist needs to call chief and council every single time to come on to lands?” Cameron said.

“That’s cumbersome. There’s a better way of doing business.”

RELATED: Police watchdog launches probe into RMCP investigation of Colten Boushie’s death

Opposition NDP critic Trent Wotherspoon said the proposed legislation isn’t practical and doesn’t address rural crime.

“To make changes that have an impact without engaging in good faith (with) Indigenous peoples, traditional land users on that front, is disgraceful,” he said.

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photographer captures Port Alberni personalities in black and white portraits

Meet John Douglas, Courtney Naesgaard in double exhibit Jan. 18 at Rollin Art Centre

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

Wet, white and windy winter weather hits Port Alberni

Snow expected to turn to rain on Thursday

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Most Read