Michael Marchand of the Colville Tribes in Washington outside the courthouse in Nelson when Richard Desautel was acquitted last month. Bill Metcalfe photo.

Province appeals Sinixt hunting case

The appeal is expected to be heard in the fall.

The provincial crown is appealing the acquittal last month of a Sinixt man from the U.S. who was charged with hunting without a licence and hunting while not being a resident.

In 2010, Richard Desautel shot an elk near Castlegar, resulting in a 16-day trial in Provincial Court in Nelson earlier this year. Judge Lisa Mrozinski acquitted him on the grounds that even though he did not live in Canada he was part of an aboriginal “rights-bearing group.”

The appeal will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court in Nelson, probably in the fall of 2017.

The Notice of Appeal asserts that the judge was mistaken in her ruling that a person resident in the U.S. can have an aboriginal right to hunt, or any other aboriginal right, in Canada.

The crown says the judge was also mistaken in her ruling that a group residing in the U.S. can be a “rights-bearing aboriginal collective for the purposes of section 35 of the Constitution (the section that recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada).”

In a news release, Michael Marchand of the Confederated Colville Tribes in Washington State said, “We will not be deterred by this predictable move by the B.C. government. The Colville Tribes is absolutely committed to restore the rights of the Sinixt people. We’re prepared to fight for them for as long as it takes to win.”

The provincial crown prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

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