Elk NetworkCanadian Court Rules in Favor of Native American Elk Hunter

General | April 29, 2021

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled a Native American hunter from Washington has the right to hunt in Canada without a license because of his indigenous ties to the region.

Rick Desautel, a member of the Lakes Tribe of the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) in Washington, shot an elk in 2010 near the British Columbia town of Castelgar about 35 miles from the U.S.-Canada border. He reported the kill to local Canadian officials who then charged him with hunting without a license and without Canadian citizenship.

Lower courts acquitted Desautel twice but the Canadian government appealed. By a 7-2 vote in April 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the acquittal, citing Desautel shot the elk on a subsistence hunt on his people’s traditional land, even though it was in another country.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the court ruled modern-day people who succeeded aboriginal groups in Canada that “are neither citizens nor residents of Canada can be Aboriginal peoples of Canada.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Karen Condon, CCT councilwoman and chair of the tribe’s Culture Committee, told Native News Online. “It’s such a relief to know that Canada, as well as the U.S., have come quite a ways with regard to how they treat Indigenous people. By winning the decision in the Canadian Supreme Court, it shows that Canada is more receptive to working with tribal people. That in and of itself is a huge victory.”

(Photo source: Foster Thorpe-Doubble)