Mushkegowuk Council Chair Rosanne Archibald was attacked by a Canadian Wildlife Service employee as she tried to enter a meeting held to negotiate amendments to the Migratory Bird Convention.
At an April 25 meeting in Parksville, B.C., Archibald was shoved and had her hair pulled as she tried to make a statement about how Natives are being ignored in the negotiations.
“As I opened the door to the meeting room, a Canadian Wildlife Service employee lunged at me to prevent me from going into the room. She pushed me and then grabbed the side of my head and my hair,” said Archibald.
As she continued to walk in, a security guard ran in to stop her. But once in the meeting room, Archibald was allowed to make a brief statement to the negotiation teams before being escorted out by security.
“I stated that First Nations aren’t being represented in the negotiating team and do not endorse the process. Also that Canada and the U.S. are negotiating our rights without our involvement, and that we have to be involved. I tried to explain that.”
Archibald demanded an apology from the Wildlife Service employee but only got a cursory apology. “It was an eye-opening experience. I’ve never been physically violated before. It was unbelievable.”
She has contacted the RCMP about the possibility of laying charges. The Wildlife Service refused to comment on the incident.
The trip to the negotiations was part of a paid Wildlife Service trip to attend the meeting. But once she got there, Archibald realized she wasn’t allowed in the negotiation meeting. She was involved in a peaceful sit-in over the lack of consultation with Mushkegowuk people and First Nations at the talks.
“It became clear the Canadian negotiation team has no intention of listening to the concerns of the Mushkegowuk people with regards to the treaty right to hunt.”
She said the Wildlife Service is unilaterally negotiating to amend the Convention in order to conform to Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution which recognizes treaty and Aboriginal rights.
The Migratory Bird Convention Act was signed in 1916 between the United States and Great Britain (signing for Canada). It was aimed at protecting migratory birds including waterfowl by such means as banning the spring hunt In 1979, a protocol was signed between Canada and the United States comtemplating a regulated spring and summer hunt by Native peoples for “nutritional or other essential needs.”
Archibald said U.S. delegates showed “no sympathy” for First Nations concerns, which they described as an “an internal Canadian government matter.”
Only three Native representatives are on the negotiation team, and Archibald says they have failed to provide updates on the talks or consult the Mushkegowuk people.
“We have our rights and should not be part of one blanket statement. There are different concerns from First Nations on what Aboriginal and treaty rights mean.”
The Wildlife Service only had one meeting in 1993 to discuss the Migratory Bird Convention with some Metis and First Nations representatives.
Details of the amendments were issued after The Nation’s print deadline.