NWT Chief Justice Shannon Smallwood has quashed a search warrant that resulted in caribou meat being seized from a camp belonging to the Lutsel K’é Dene First Nation (LKDFN).
The NWT Attorney General admitted in NWT Supreme Court that the search warrant “was issued without lawful authority.”
In a news release issued Monday, LKDFN stated that it is considering a civil lawsuit against the GNWT for the “unlawful raid.”
“I don’t know how else to describe the raid than traumatic. Our people are traumatized. They are also very angry,” said Iris Catholique, Thaidene Nëné manager for LKDFN. “We have been working so hard to heal from the violence that our Elders and ancestors have experienced at the hands of government officials through things like residential school and wildlife policy, and also to protect our young people from those kinds of experiences. This situation is especially devastating and embarrassing because we thought the GNWT was a collaborator in our efforts to protect our land and a co-governing partner of Thaidene Nëné. How can we trust them after this?”
The investigation by staff from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was carried out on Sept. 13 at Artillery Lake in the Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area and National Park Reserve.
“While we welcome the government’s admission that the warrant and search were unlawful and violated our people’s rights, LKDFN repeats its call for an investigation into the conduct of the wildlife officers and the events that led to the warrant and also an apology for what happened at our camp in September,” said LKDFN Chief James Marlowe. “We believe the officials who sanctioned this raid should resign.”
Days after the ENR investigation at the camp, Minister Shane Thompson stated that pair of wildlife officers were investigating two separate reports from the public of illegal harvesting happening within the caribou management zone.
Thompson said 10 caribou in total were harvested, all located inside the management zone, with a significant amount of edible meat wasted.