Freeman-on-the-land complaint in northern Alberta leads to arrest

Grande Prairie RCMP arrested a Manitoba man after complaints by trappers that cabins were being occupied by squatters identifying themselves as Freeman-on-the-Land.

Grande Prairie, Alta., trappers alarmed by squatters

The RCMP have made an arrest after complaints by trappers that cabins were being occupied by squatters identifying themselves as Freeman-on-the-Land.

A 40-year-old man formerly of Manitoba was taken into custody around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon by several officers in the bush southeast of Grande Prairie, about 460 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

"We recovered two firearms as well as ammunition," said Cpl. Roy Kennedy. "Fish and Wildlife officials were there also on hand to remove the structures and improvements on the land. 

"As a result of our investigation he was charged with uttering threats, using a firearm in the commission of an offence and possession of a firearm while prohibited."

Albert Steinwand, with the Grande Cache Trappers Association hopes the arrest will send a message to other so-called Freeman thought to be in the area.

"Finally the police are stepping into the situation," he said. "Any others that are out there with the same intentions might take note that they just can't literally walk over people.

"Maybe they'll back off a bit now."

A bail hearing for the man is scheduled for today.

Alberta Environment says in May it tried to evict people living in tents on Crown land in the area and that it had received reports that the people had moved into at least one trappers cabin.

Last month, police in Calgary arrested a man on outstanding warrants who had claimed a duplex as his embassy, changed the locks and refused to leave.

The FBI considers the Freeman movement a domestic terror threat in the United States, but followers in Canada have said they do not support violence.

 

With files from The Canadian Press

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