N.W.T. Chief says new Wildlife Act will strip his control
Roy Fabian says it won't allow him to control who hunts on his First Nation's land
K'atl'odeeche First Nation Chief Roy Fabian is concerned the new Wildlife Act won't be a big improvement over the old one, which was written in the 70s.
Aboriginal groups and the territorial government are meeting on the Hay River reserve this week to discuss the controversial act. The act will affect peoples’ rights to hunt, trap and fish.
Fabian said Aboriginal groups will not get the power they need over their own territories.
The act is meant to protect wildlife populations into the future, but Fabian believes the territorial government is beyond its jurisdiction.
Fabian said people are hunting and trapping on his traditional territory, and he has no control over it.
"If you go down the Hay River corridor, you're going to see cabins from people all over the Northwest Territories because they’ve got general hunting licences and they can hunt anywhere they want and they don't have to consult with me," he said.
Fabian wants control over who comes onto his land to hunt and trap. He said it’s not just a matter of sustainability, but also about the safety of band members. He said one man was accidentally killed by another hunter who didn’t know he was there.
Fabian thinks if he had control, that man would never have been hunting on the band's traditional land in the first place.
Aboriginal leaders at the conference say it isn't difficult to get a general hunting licence. While people can't hunt on reserve land, they are hunting within territories that could be subject to land claims.
Many of the attendees at the conference believe power has been taken out of their hands - that rights given to them through treaty agreements are not being respected.
"It's going to take power out of the people's hands, their government, and rest it with the territorial government," said Ken Young, a lawyer for the K'atl'odeeche First Nation.
Fabian said he’s trying to make it clear to First Nations in the territory that they don’t have to agree to the act if they don’t feel it works.
Environment Minister Michael Miltenberger withdrew the bill last summer after opposition from Aboriginal groups. He said he hopes to reintroduce the bill this fall so that it can be passed in 2013.