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

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen seeks input about proposed composting facility

Organics composting facility proposed for Campbell Mountain Landfill

Netflix star Francesca Farago seen hanging in the Okanagan

Farago got her big break as a reality TV star in Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in 2020

Morning Start: Canada Has a Completely Indoor Town

Your morning start for Tuesday Sept. 29, 2020

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Mystery solved on who put up Mount Kobau blockade

Land owner says trespassing with quads and motorcycles threatens wildlife and old growth trees

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Peachland resident finds severed bear paw on driveway

Tracie Gordon thought it was a Halloween prank, but it turned out to be a real bear paw

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Zero new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Five cases remain linked to an outbreak at Calvary Chapel in Kelowna

Most Read