December 2, 2023

‘Semi-automatic rifles are efficient and mandatory as a humane technique to shortly dispatch animals, and as defence in opposition to polar bears, grizzly bears, and wolves’

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OTTAWA — Banning semi-automatic rifles may put Inuit hunters in peril, an official with a northern Canada Indigenous group stated Wednesday.

Testifying on Invoice C-21 earlier than the Senate nationwide safety committee on Thursday, Nunavut Tunngavik vice-president Paul Irngaut advised senators that Inuit hunters face distinctive risks whereas stalking their quarry, and don’t get pleasure from the identical search and rescue providers that hunters in different components of Canada name upon if in bother.

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“Semi-automatic rifles are efficient and mandatory as a humane technique to shortly dispatch animals, and as defence in opposition to polar bears, grizzly bears, and wolves,” Irngaut stated.

“Inuit hunters are taught to forestall harmful encounters and to scare away these predators, however this isn’t sufficient. It may imply life or demise when a number of aggressive bears are breaking into your cabin or tent.”

Hunters in these conditions, he stated, want to make use of their firearms to scare harmful animals away — and sometimes don’t have the time to reload their firearms.

“If this invoice is handed with the ban on semi-automatic firearms, we must shoot-to-kill, leading to a rise of fatalities to wildlife,” he stated.

Nunavut Tunngavik, Inc. (NTI) legally represents Inuit individuals in Nunavut and oversees agreements and treaties between their individuals and the Authorities of Canada.

Not like single-shot or repeating firearms that require shooters to manually reload or re-cock the firearm earlier than firing once more, semi-automatic rifles robotically put a brand new cartridge into battery after every shot — with out the necessity to manually cycle a bolt or load new ammunition.

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Not like absolutely computerized weapons that repeatedly fireplace for so long as the set off is held down, semi-automatics solely fireplace as soon as per set off pull.

Canada’s push for stronger gun management has met resistance from many quarters, together with Indigenous teams.

Final December, the Meeting of First Nations (AFN) handed an emergency decision opposing Invoice C-21 — taking particular exception to plenty of now-withdrawn amendments that will have outlawed scores of looking rifles generally utilized by Indigenous hunters.

That decision known as on the federal authorities to conduct correct consultations with Indigenous teams to make sure conventional and treaty looking rights aren’t infringed upon.

“There has not been enough consultations on the invoice,” Irngaut advised Senators on Wednesday.

“It’s our info that Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the nationwide Inuit group generally generally known as ITK, had acquired a briefing of the latest model of the invoice shortly earlier than it was tabled in Could,” he stated.

“Nevertheless, neither NTI or ITK has been absolutely consulted on the language and affect of the invoice.”

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Irngaut described this lack of session as regarding.

“Consultations up right here might be very costly, though below our settlement now we have to be consulted on the subject of points that have an effect on Inuit,” he stated in response to a query from Manitoba Senator Don Plett.

“Only a few years in the past, two individuals up right here died after they have been attacked by a polar bear, and simply final summer season two youngsters have been very fortunate that they managed to shoot the bear when it got here into their tent. That’s the fact that now we have up right here.”

Irngaut additionally stated the invoice’s definition of “assault-style firearm” is much too broad and known as for its deletion from the invoice, saying that its elimination would have little affect on its goal.

Tabled in the home final Could, Invoice C-21 is at the moment on the committee stage within the Senate forward of third studying.

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Showing earlier than the identical committee final month, Public Security Minister Dominic LeBlanc stated that whereas an “preliminary model” of the Trudeau Liberals’ gun management laws sparked fear amongst organizations that included Indigenous teams, he stated these issues have largely been handled.

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“I don’t suppose that Indigenous peoples have been at massive opposed with this invoice, and I don’t suppose hunters or sports activities teams oppose this laws,” LeBlanc advised senators throughout the Oct. 23 assembly, acknowledging that an “preliminary model” of the invoice induced “concern” amongst these teams.

At a subsequent assembly, Plett branded LeBlanc’s phrases as “disinformation.”

Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Chief Jessica Lazare, who advised the committee earlier this yr that present firearms legal guidelines already hinder Indigenous hunters, advised members on Wednesday that C-21’s present iteration remains to be a priority.

“It provides no substantive safety of our rights, and may very well be dangerous,” she advised committee members, taking exception with clauses tucked into the top of the invoice that insist C-21 upholds the rights of Indigenous individuals as spelled out in Sec. 35 of the Structure Act.

“Whereas so-called non-derogation clauses like this can be helpful reminders for officers on the bottom, they provide no added authorized safety for our hunters.”

She in contrast such clauses to “post-it notes” that time to Canada’s structure.

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“Parliament wrote the post-it notice, however forgot to connect it to the legal guidelines that unusual individuals see,” she stated.

She stated higher safeguards must be in place to guard Indigenous rights than a clause tacked onto the top of Invoice C-21.

“If Parliament have been critical about defending out rights, they might be tabling amendments that particularly direct decision-makers to not challenge prohibition orders that affect Sec. 35 looking, harvesting and cultural rights,” Lazare stated.

“Or higher but, recognizing that this resolution making belongs to Indigenous peoples themselves.”

She additionally urged the federal government to focus as a substitute of the basis causes of gun crime, moderately than far-reaching laws that forestalls Canada’s Indigenous individuals from practising their tradition.

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