APTN National News
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak says if Premier Brian Pallister wants to meet to discuss hunting rights in the province, he’s ready.
“If people want to talk about it we’re more than willing to have a discussion,” said Nepinak. “But don’t think you can go to the province to intercede or interfere in the exercise of our inherent rights.”
Last week, Pallister made comments regarding night hunting at a meeting last month, the issue has been a hot topic debate.
The meeting was meant to be closed door but was attended by dozens of members of the Progressive Conservative Party and a few reporters.
Pallister said that the province-wide batter over hunting at night had become a “race war.”
First Nation NDP MLA Wab Kinew said the premier needs to learn more about whose lands they’re arguing over.
“The Anishnabe are the peoples of Treaties 1,2,3 and 4, southern Manitoba and the Interlake, which is where these conversations about night hunting are happening,” said Kinew. “So to me, it just shows he’s (Pallister) got a lot to learn and he has to humble himself and commit to learning more about Indigenous cultures. And also in terms of doing the right thing in terms of bringing people together both from Indigenous communities but also from the rest of Manitoba, together.”
The issues surrounding night hunting is about the method. Some Indigenous hunters use a technique called spotlighting – the act of shining high-powered lights in the eyes of an animal. This technique is illegal for non-treaty hunters.
The premier says it’s a dangerous practice. Two people died last year in nighttime hunting incidents.
Also, in a Macleans article Pallister is quoted as saying, ‘young, Indigenous men with criminal records,’ are responsible for night hunting. He now denies making the comment.
“I think that statement was not my statement,” said Pallister. “And when I read the statement I was immediately offended by it and I think people should be offended by it. But it was not a statement I made.”
He said he’s looking to resolve the issue, “I want to as I’ve always done, to bring people together to find solutions to the problem. I regret the turn it’s taken in terms of those comments, but I don’t regret raising the issue because it’s been ignored for a long time.”
The premier would not apologize for his comments at the meeting, however, said he regrets the word choice he used.
In an email statement, the province said it plans to meet with Indigenous communities in the future.
“The Manitoba government is in the process of organizing consultations with all parties involved in the subject of night hunting,” the statement said. “We look forward to meeting with leaders in the coming months to hear all sides of the issue and work toward a solution based on the safety of all Manitobans and the sustainability of our wildlife populations.”
In the meantime, the debate will rage on.