Sask. proposes controversial trespass law requiring landowner permission
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron speaks to media in Battleford, Sask., Friday, February 9, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards)
Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2018 5:22PM EST
SASKATOON -- A First Nations leader says proposed Saskatchewan legislation that would require people to get permission before they go on private land could lead to clashes and even deaths.
Chief Bobby Cameron, with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said a man was found hunting on Kawacatoose First Nation land on Tuesday. Cameron said the man was told he didn't have permission to hunt there and was escorted off the land. But Cameron said it may not always be that simple.
"Had it been the other way around, I don't know if a farmer would have been that kind or that patient," he said.
The proposed changes to trespassing legislation were introduced Tuesday, over two years after Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, was killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan.
Earlier this year, a jury acquitted farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder after he testified his gun went off accidentally when he was trying to scare off some young people who drove on to his farm.
"We hope there are no more tragedies, we really hope," Cameron said Tuesday. "But if they do, this provincial government should also say, we will be held liable if someone dies because of this trespassing legislation."
Justice Minister Don Morgan said the proposed law balances the rights of rural landowners and the public. The legislation would provide legal protection for landowners against property damage caused by a trespasser.
A recent survey released by the province showed 65 per cent of respondents said people should ask landowners for permission before they go onto private land.
"This legislation shifts that responsibility to those wishing to access the land, by requiring them to obtain prior permission from the landowner or occupier," Morgan said in a statement.
Cameron said it's unfortunate the province didn't consult the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and decided to base the proposed changes on the survey's results.
He predicted the proposed legislation will create headaches because First Nation land and roads are used by non-Indigenous people.
"So, you mean to tell me that every farmer and rancher and agriculturalist needs to call chief and council every single time to come on to lands?" Cameron said.
"That's cumbersome. There's a better way of doing business."