Christine Creyke, lands director for the Tahltan Central Government, was appointed to Canada’s gun advisory committee in February. (Tahltan Central Government photo)

B.C. Indigenous woman appointed to Canada’s gun advisory committee

First Nations and northern voices were both missing in discussions

Canada’s gun advisory committee now has Indigenous representation.

Christine Creyke, who is the lands director for the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) and manages environment, wildlife and resources throughout the territory, was appointed to the committee along with former B.C. Supreme Court judge and attorney general Wally Oppal as the committee’s new chair.

Creyke’s appointment marks the first time since 2017 that the CFAC has had Indigenous representation.

“Wallace Oppal and Christine Creyke add invaluable experience and expertise to this important work, and will help inform new measures to make our country less vulnerable to the scourge of gun violence, while being fair to responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and businesses,” says Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale in a press release.

The CFAC advises the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on Canada’s firearms policies, laws and regulations. The 10-member group includes civilian firearms users, farmers, law enforcement officials, public health advocates and women’s organizations.

READ MORE: Feds eye tougher screening of gun owners for mental health, violence concerns

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Geography from UNBC in 2006, Creyke pursued masters-level studies through the university’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies program. She has experience in policy development for oil and gas, wildlife and hunting regulations, and is heavily involved with the Tahltan community.

Creyke was in Ottawa for the committee’s first meeting on Feb. 20, the fifth meeting since the CFAC was renewed in 2017.

She says she can help the committee’s direction on firearms issues to consider First Nations, northern and rural perspectives.

“I grew up in the North, I live my life in the North,” Creyke says. “Under my department, we deal with a lot of the hunting regulations and resident hunters in the territory. My family has a guide and outfitting business and I grew up in that kind of community.”

During her first meeting, she says the committee discussed changes in firearm storage that may come as a result of Bill C-71, a proposed federal bill would introduce new national gun legislation to enhance background checks, enforce mandatory recordkeeping requirements for retailers and tighten rules for travelling with firearms.

Risks associated with gun storage and theft in residential areas were topics Creyke could speak about from experience, especially in relation to how firearms can be used as protection for people living in rural communities with close proximity to wildlife.

“A lot of people’s perspectives were from urban settings and what that means for storing firearms and having those safety precautions in place because having firearms in residential areas is a big concern,” she says.

“But I was talking about safety from predators, like grizzly bears.”

Grizzly bears have been active in and around Tahltan communities later into what is normally their hibernation season.

TCG Wildlife Department issued a community notice last December that advised residents to be extra vigilant for “the potential of grizzly bears being out of hibernation throughout the winter,” and they were tracking three active bears in the territory.

Changing food sources and overpopulation of the backcountry are suspected to play a role in bears not having the fat stores to allow them to successfully hibernate. The bears are then likely going to be overly aggressive when looking for food, the notice read.

In this situation, firearms play a large role in ensuring people’s safety, Creyke says.

Last November, a teacher and her 10-month-old daughter were killed in a grizzly bear attack while at their cabin in the Yukon.

READ MORE: Mother killed in Yukon bear attack was passionate about nature, languages

“Having a firearm is part of my everyday life because of predators, and that’s where my safety perspective is coming from,” she says.

Issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women, domestic violence and suicide rates are also areas that can disproportionately affect First Nations communities.

A 2018 Canada-wide study on national health inequalities found suicide rates were 6.5 times higher in places with a concentration of Inuit people and 3.7 times higher for First Nations people. Indigenous women in Canada are also 2.7 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence, according to Statistics Canada.

Creyke says these issues need to be considered when talking about the nation’s gun laws, areas she can provide significant perspective and insight on for fairer representation moving forward.

“From my perspective, there wasn’t a Northern voice on [CFAC], or a northern Aboriginal one,” she says. “If there are these data gaps, then what else should they be looking at and who else should they be speaking to?”

Both Creyke and Oppal will hold their committee positions for two-year terms.

*CORRECTION* An earlier version of this story misidentified the child killed by a grizzly bear last fall as 10 years old. She was 10 months old. We apologize for this mistake.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Revelstoke bowl turner expanding to bigger markets

Corin Flood turns hundreds of bowls a year in his back yard shop

All regional district fields and ball diamonds closed

Soaking ground leads to closure of CSRD sports fields to prevent damage

Clovechok sitting on Select Standing Committee of Finance and Government Services

Catching up with the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

RV lifestyle comes to the Okanagan

BC Interior RV Show returns to Penticton for the eighth year

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

‘Cowardly acts’ towards homeless continue in Osoyoos

RCMP confirm they are investigating two incidents of assault on a homeless person

Most Read