Expository Essay Sample on Aboriginal Fishing Rights in Canada

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Vanderbilt University
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Before the invasion of European settlers in North America, Canada had already been occupied by the aboriginal people (Murphy, Duncan and Piggott). These aboriginal people in Canada had recognized their systems that were used for governance purposes as well as livelihood purposes. The aboriginal people of Canada had established their cultural practices, governing laws as well as systems of government. In addition, these people had also put in place unique social organizations, territories, language for communication purposes and economies. It has been installed that the aboriginal system of governance and laws was paid more emphasis on the nature of the interaction of the aboriginal people and their environment. The environment and its resources were highly regarded in such a way that the laws or system of governance protected it either intentionally or un-intentionally. The components of the environment recognized by the aboriginal people of Canada included land water and air as well as all other components found within this media. For instance, the people had developed a system of governance that controlled resources prescribed the connection of the people and their environment CITATION Gor09 \l 1033 (Hannon). However, there emerged conflict related to the rights of the aboriginals, and the main cause of such conflicts was the existing or emerging differences between the ideologies of the aboriginals and those of the non-aboriginals. It has been established that the aboriginal people of Canada had treaties with a good example extracted from Manitoba. The first nation of Manitoba had established treaties that controlled the sharing of the hunting grounds, fishing grounds as well as the reserve lands. However, most of these treaties were signed by Indians who scarcely understood the English language used in the documentation of the treaties.

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Passelac-Ross states that the people of the first nation of Manitoba had come up with rights related to hunting, fishing, and trapping. The people had a special relationship with their environment since they believed that the environment provided them with the necessities to sustain life. The cultural values of the Aboriginal people of Canada had values that could be traced back to thousands of years. As far as the fishing rights of the aboriginal people of Canada are concerned, treaties and constitutional rights were in place to assure these rights. The aboriginal people of Canada required no license to fish, but permits were required especially in areas that were considered to be of conservation concerns. Areas that were not considered as conservation concerns had no restrictions due to changing seasons or region. The aboriginal people of Canada required no particular permit or load slip for transporting their catch to the nearest fish market. The aboriginals of Canada have had a right to engage in sportfishing competitions without permits. The people were never subjected to the restrictions related to the type of fishing gears. This meant that the people owned the resource and practically had the rights to harvest from the resource. This paper will delve into the fishing rights of the aboriginal people of Canada and further establish how these rights controlled the interaction of the people and the environment. The paper will also establish the source of these rights as well as other laws in place that support or oppose the fishing rights of the aboriginal people.

The aboriginal rights of the people of British Columbia

According to Istvanffy, the aboriginal rights of the people of Canada can be divided into three main components which include the aboriginal harvesting rights, aboriginal title, and the treaty rights. The aboriginal rights in Canada applied to the people of the Indian status as well as non-Indian status. The rights also applied to the first nations with an example of Manitoba and also applied to the Inuit and the Metis. It has been stated that the aboriginal rights were established from the ancient activities of the natives before they came into contact with the Europeans CITATION Asc11 \l 1033 (Asch). One critical area in the aboriginal rights in Canada includes the hunting rights. The hunting rights of the aboriginal people of Canada are broad but can be divided into four main groups that include fishing, hunting, trapping, and gathering. An extension to the aboriginal rights in Canada comprised of trade since some of the commodities harvested by the natives were traded to earn a living.

According to Istvanffy, the aboriginal harvesting rights in the British Columbia have also been included in the wildlife act and regulations. The laws included in the acts are intended to regulate hunting and trapping regulation. The practice of fishing has also been included in the act. That act has been instrumental in recognizing the rightful place of the aboriginal people of Canada. However, the Act protects these rights for the people who are considered to be Indian as well as residents of the British Columbia territory. The act upholds that the aboriginal people of Canada are not required to have licenses for any form of hunting such as fishing. The act also insists that the hunting process should only be intended for sustenance purposes that include search for food, social activities such as sports fishing and ceremonial functions. The hunting rights applied for the aboriginals only for the situations when they were hunting in the areas that the act has identified as locations for the native communities. Furthermore, the hunting rights of the aboriginals apply only in situations where the hunting process strictly adhere to the specifications of the public health department, safety standards and the process adheres to the conservation goals of British Columbia.

In situations where the aboriginals intend to hunt outside the designated traditional territories, the aboriginals are required to adhere to the articulation in the British Columbia hunting regulations CITATION Asc11 \l 1033 (Asch).This process one to acquire limited entry permits for the hunting process. A person intending to hunt in another first nation territory is required to contact the other first nation to request permission. Unique relationships such as through marriages, inter-tribal relations or other forms of family relations are considered during granting of a permit by a different first nation.

Several, actions have been identified as to be part of the hunting offenses in British Columbia CITATION Lou10 \l 1033 (Knafla and Westra). The ministry is responsible for determining these situations that are labeled as hunting offenses committed by the aboriginals in Canada. Some of the alleged offenses directly contradict with the aboriginal hunting rights such as the right to hunt in ones traditional territories. It has also been controversial whenever the aboriginals are charged despite the fact that they practiced the hunting basing on the traditional hunting process. Extreme instances have also seen the aboriginal charged despite having hunted in traditional territories in which one has links to or permits.

According to Harris (Landing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves and Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925), the aboriginal rights of people living in a specific treaty in British Columbia are known as treaty rights. The treaty rights entail the rights that have been included in the land claim settlement. It has been identified that a lot of treaties were created in the Canada between the twentieth and the eighteenth century. Most of these treaties paid a lot of emphasis on the harvesting rights of the people of Canada. An example of a treaty during this specified period is the Douglas Treaty that was developed by the people of the first nation of Southern Vancouver Island. The Douglas treaty gave the aboriginal people a right to harvest fish within their territories. Another treaty known as treaty eight applied to the aboriginals from the North Eastern part of British Columbia. The treaty eight gave the aboriginals a right to hunt in the lands considered as un-occupied. Several modern treaties were also recognized in British Columbia which applied to the first nations of Tsawwassen, Nisgaa and the Maa-nulth. These treaties also concentrated on establishing the harvesting rights of the aboriginals.

The harvesting rights and treaties of the first nations in British Columbia gave the natives a right to harvest from the natural environment provided they adhered to terms articulated in the treaties CITATION Dou05 \l 1033 (Haris).The treaties of the first nation strictly emphasized on areas allowed for harvesting resources, the types of resources to be harvested and the methodologies of harvesting. In addition, the treaties also articulated the use of the harvested resources as well as the general terms and conditions for application of the treaties. Critical issues that arose in these treaties included the trans-boundary resources such as air and water, migratory species such as birds.

Metis rights

The Constitution of Canada has entrenched the aboriginal rights of Canadians which include the fishing rights CITATION Dep13 \l 1033 (Department of Justice of Canada). The Metis rights are largely derived from the traditional practices of the Metis and are strongly rooted to the culture. Like most aboriginal rights in Canada, the Metis rights focus on rights related to fishing, hunting, trapping as well as gathering. The rights apply to native people of the Metis community or people whose ancestry can be traced to the Metis community. The rights also apply to the modern people who consider themselves as modern Metis community. However, the Metis rights are under threat from the impending amendments by the Canadian government.

The Metis harvest card was a permit that the Metis people were always required to poses, which proved that one has a relationship to the Metis community CITATION Asc11 \l 1033 (Asch). The card served as the needed proof that the Metis people have approved ones quest to hunt within their territory. The harvest card allowed people to hunt species such as migratory birds but had a restriction on several hunting practices. For instance, the card did not allow hunting of in the form of fishing, trapping and gathering. Practically, the Metis rights protected the fishing grounds of the Natives. The people were considered as owners of the fishing ground and fishing resource. As mentioned before, several changes are expected after the amendment of the Metis rights by the Canadian government. It is expected that some of these rights of the Metis will be stripped off and allow the government the opportunity to control the resources within the Metis native land.

The Gladue rights

According to Istvanffy, a unique form of rights exists in Canada that only apply to the aboriginals. The Gladue rights apply to the Canadian aboriginals of both Indian and non-Indian status as well as the Metis and the Inuit. The laws apply to people living both in an...

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