Wildlife Act changes support reconciliation
The Wildlife Act has not been changed to address Indigenous interests since 1966. As a result, the static nature of the legislation creates conflict with the recognition of the inherent rights of First Nations people under the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982.
The changes also support the Province’s commitment to the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
A key change in the legislation is the recognition of Indigenous knowledge about wildlife. In this way, knowledge systems that are embedded in the culture and traditions of Indigenous Peoples and are based on observations and interactions with the environment can be respected and incorporated when decisions about wildlife management are being made under the Wildlife Act.
This change enables the minister and First Nations to enter into legally binding agreements on “sheltering.” Sheltering is the practice of a host First Nation permitting a guest First Nation to harvest wildlife within the host’s territory. Permission typically comes with conditions (such as who may hunt what species, when, where and by what means). When a First Nation enters into these agreements with the minister, it will bring provincial laws into alignment with the existing Indigenous laws. This change is expected to improve certainty around data collection and sharing of information on wildlife.
Changes to the Wildlife Act were developed with Indigenous members from several First Nations and followed by consultation and engagement with all First Nations, the seven modern Treaty Nations and Indigenous-led organizations. Key wildlife and habitat organizations in B.C., including the BC Wildlife Federation, the BC Trappers Association and the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, were also engaged.
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