Assembly of First Nations passes emergency resolution to oppose federal gun control legislation
Chiefs and proxies in attendance of the Assembly of First Nations’ 2022 special chiefs assembly in Ottawa Thursday passed an emergency resolution to oppose Bill C-21, a bill initially proposed to ban handguns that the federal government is attempting to amend with a new list of long guns to be banned.
First Nations leaders say it infringes on rights to hunt and harvest
Ka’nhehsí:io Deer · CBC News
Chiefs and proxies in attendance at the Assembly of First Nations’ (AFN) special chiefs assembly in Ottawa Thursday passed an emergency resolution to oppose Bill C-21, a bill initially proposed to ban handguns that the federal government is attempting to amend with a new list of long guns to be banned.
First Nations leaders say the amendments to potentially criminalize long guns infringes on First Nations and treaty rights to hunt and harvest.
“Our people always lived off the land,” said Frank McKay, proxy for Koocheching First Nation, Ont., to the assembly on Thursday.
“We don’t do sports hunting, we use it for sustenance.”
Kitigan Zibi Chief Dylan Whiteduck said the Quebec caucus also opposed the legislation when it met Wednesday.
“It’s a tool. It’s not a weapon,” he said.
The resolution directs the AFN to call upon the federal government to conduct proper consultation with First Nations. It also calls for amendments to the bill to remove the list of long guns commonly used by First Nations hunters.
“Our young hunters that are growing up, they just don’t send them up to the bush with a gun. There’s a whole process that has to do with our customs, our values, our traditions,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Fourth Vice-Chief Heather Bear, proxy for Lac La Ronge Indian Band, during the assembly.
“No government has a right to take that away from us and regulate that. That is our job as mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and hunters.”
Earlier this week, Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price received backlash for opposing the legislation.
His mother Lynda Price is the chief of Ulkatcho First Nation in B.C. Tk’emlups Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir, was a proxy for Lynda Price on Thursday.
“We were born and raised as sustenance hunters and gatherers,” she told the assembly.
“I raised my children to rely on our sustenance. So this is very important to our family as well as for our community.”
Several ministers were invited to address the assembly on Thursday including Public Safety Minister Marc Medicino, Justice Minister David Lametti, Indigenous Services Minister Patti Hajdu, and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller. None of them addressed the chiefs and proxies’ concerns over the legislation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spoke at the assembly, said Monday that a review of the legislation will not target legitimate gun use.
A previous version of this story attributed comments made by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Fourth Vice-Chief Heather Bear to Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson.
Dec 16, 2022 11:39 AM ET
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is a Kanien’kehá:ka journalist from Kahnawà:ke, Que. She is currently a reporter with CBC Indigenous covering communities across Quebec.