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

Revelstoke already double last year’s snowfall

The city is just below halfway to the snowiest winter on record

Have your say on what it takes raising toddlers in Revelstoke

The study started collecting data last summer and is expected to continue until at least May

Avalanche control on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

Expect 20 minute delays at Three Valley Gap until 2 p.m.

Revelstoke RCMP investigating hit and run

A pedestrian was struck on Tuesday at Victoria Rd and First Street

Older Canadians highlighted in Kelowna film project to fight ageism

The project is part of a campaign to combat ageism

Princeton – a Prince Town in waiting?

The Town of Princeton has been waiting 160 years for a Royal… Continue reading

Group builds shelters for Vernon’s stray cats

Twenty insulated cat shelters were constructed by volunteers and delivered around town

UBCO partners with Boeing to test new anti-ice coating technology

The coating could one day be applied to all airplanes to prevent ice buildup

True Stories: Okanagan memoir-writers, reading

Reading with local North Okanagan writers Art Dalton, Patti Shales Lefkos, Raven Dahl, Janelle Hardy

Kelowna’s last video store, Leo’s Videos, to remain open despite failed sale

Kelowna’s last video rental store will remain open and under its namesake’s ownership

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Summerland drama students to stage Matilda

Story by Roald Dahl will be presented at Centre Stage Theatre in February

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Most Read