A First Nation declared extinct by the federal government over 60 years ago has won yet another court battle to have its existence recognized — this one in the province's highest court.
The B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld Rick Desautel's right to hunt in Canada, even though he is an American citizen and his First Nation, the Sinixt, was declared extinct by the federal government in 1956.
In 2010, Desautel travelled to B.C. from his home in Washington state to shoot an elk and alerted B.C. Conservation officers to what he had done. He was then charged under the Wildlife Act with hunting without a licence and being a non-resident.
Desautel has won in court three times now.
- Sinixt First Nation not extinct after all, court rules
The Sinixt maintain it was pushed off the Canadian portion of its traditional territory by settlers and miners. The court heard the First Nation was declared extinct for the purposes of the Indian Act.
"Mr. Desautel was not foreclosed from claiming an Aboriginal right to hunt in British Columbia, even though he is not a citizen or resident of Canada," the appeals court ruled.
Desautel, 68, lives on the Colville Reservation, south of the Canada-U.S.border.
He travelled to Canada to hunt in order to challenge the B.C. Wildlife Act and the government's view of the Sinixt as extinct.
Desautel says the ruling is another step toward erasing the Canadian 'extinction' of his people.