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

Painting Ourselves Visible group to create mural

A new partnership between Kootenay Gallery of Art and Castlegar Pride

Castlegar Skating Club prepares for regional championships

Watch local skaters on March 11 at 4:30 p.m.

Castlegar council develops policy for question period

Questions must pertain to current agenda items and issues or items of interest to the general public

SD20 board welcomes new trustee as budget process begins

New funding funneled to Castlegar bus route, band instrument replacement and library IT equipment.

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Suspect at large after stealing seaplane before crashing into another in Vancouver

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Vancouver Harbour

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read