First Nations want to be consulted on Quebec's long-gun registry
Registry goes into effect next week
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador says Quebec's approach to its soon-to-be implemented long-gun registry does not address First Nations issues or jurisdictions, and rights to traditional and subsistence practices.
"Quebec disrespects our own jurisdiction," said Lance Haymond, chief of the Kebaowek First Nation.
"We're going to just have to follow the law and if we don't, then Quebec will have criminalized our members for exercising their constitutionally protected right to hunt."
Quebec's Minister of Public Security announced Wednesday it was loosening the requirements for long gun owners in hopes of increasing compliance with the registry.
It goes into effect on Jan. 29, but almost 80 per cent of long gun owners have not yet registered their weapons, including many First Nations.
The AFNQL said it is concerned that any information intended to facilitate registration is only available in French, where communities like Kebaowek speak English and Algonquin. The Algonquin community is located on the bank of Lake Kipawa in western Quebec.
Haymond said many in his community have not registered their firearms, including himself. He's worried those who won't want to deal with police or game wardens will just stop hunting and get rid of their guns, and those who refuse to register their rifles will be criminalized for it when they go hunting.
"I'm not worried about them when they're on reserve but my community is small and most of the exercising of our right is outside on our traditional territory, [over] which Quebec claims to have jurisdiction," he said.
Leaving the province to hunt
Bobby Patton, a Mohawk from Kahnawake, said he'd prefer to have a registry within his community or with other First Nations.
"There's going to be infringements on our traditional hunting rights for sustenance and it's going to have a large impact," he said about Quebec's registry.
Patton said he's already had bad experiences hunting in the province and now goes to New Brunswick or Ontario.
"Before we used have much more land to hunt and trap for our sustenance, but now we've got towers all over the place, high rises, highways and industrial zones and it's all been on our traditional land," said Patton.
"So, modern-day Natives, what are you going to do? They're going to travel where the hunting grounds are and that's what needs to be respected."
The AFNQL is calling on the Quebec government to meet with them before the measures are implemented.
Representatives of Quebec's Public Security and Indigenous Affairs departments did not respond to a request for comment.