A Canoe Lake Cree Nation man was fined $900 Thursday after being caught selling $90 worth of fish to an undercover Saskatchewan conservation officer.
Defence lawyer Dwayne Stonechild said he requested a conditional discharge while Crown attorney Matthew Miazga wanted Donald Iron fined $3,000 per sale.
Iron was convicted in January of selling three bags of fish he caught in Canoe Lake west of Saskatoon.
In the end, Judge Miguel Martinez ordered Iron to pay a fine of $300 on each of the three counts for a total in the $1,100-range after surcharges were applied, Stonechild said in a telephone interview.
“He can’t afford to pay it,” the lawyer added. “[He] gets $300 a month in social assistance payments from the band.”
Iron was found guilty after a multi-month undercover operation by the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment.
But details of the so-called sting are protected by a court-imposed publication ban.
Canoe Lake Chief Francis Iron said he is not happy with what went down on his territory without the band’s knowledge or permission.
He said he turned to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which advocates for land and treaty rights, for support.
“We may appeal,” he said Thursday. “Donald doesn’t even have a phone.”
FSIN issued a release after the conviction became public reiterating that fishing is a “fundamental treaty and inherent right First Nations people have.”
It also expressed concerns the “harassment of First Nations traditional land users” could escalate, especially in light of the fact conservation officers in the province are expected to soon be armed with semi-automatic carbine rifles.
Stonechild said his client had trouble following what was happening in court.
“He has a grade 4 or grade 5 education,” the lawyer said in a telephone interview.
But he said Iron got the message, nevertheless, exclaiming after the sentencing, “It will not happen again.”
Meanwhile, some media outlets plan to fight the publication ban on the sting details in court.