'Disturbing and unnecessary': FSIN decries decision to arm conservation officers

"Arming conservation officers with such weapons could potentially be disastrous,” FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said in a press release.

FSIN Vice Chief says move 'could potentially be disastrous'

Heather Bear, fourth vice chief, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (Brandon Harder/CBC)

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says Saskatchewan's plan to arm conservation officers with new rifles happened without proper consultation and could lead to lives lost.

On Oct. 24 the government of Saskatchewan posted a Request for Bid seeking 147 semi-automatic patrol carbines.

The province is also looking for someone capable of training 12 to 15 Conservation officers to use the ministry approved carbines and train others to do the same.

"The idea that conservation officers are carrying assault rifles is truly disturbing and unnecessary," FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said in a press release.

"There are legitimate concerns from First Nations that arming conservation officers with such weapons could potentially be disastrous," she said.

Bear said the changes are happening without consultation with Indigenous leaders and it's causing very real stress and concern in Indigenous communities.

She said the decision is part of a "continuous assault on Treaty hunters" in Saskatchewan, citing decisions to grant Conservation Officers more policing powers — a move she was also critical of — and the proposal to make changes to the Trespass to Property Act.

"Our communities will not stand idly by as they chip away at the lands on which we can hunt, and the manners in which we carry out these rights," Bear said.