The Grand Council is calling it “a travesty,” but it looks like Ottawa’s new income tax on Natives could hit Cree employees of the Cree Trappers’ Association office in Val d’Or. And there’s an outside chance it may even be applied to trappers themselves.

Under the new tax rules, Ottawa is applying income tax for the first time to Natives who work off-reserve, even if they work for on-reserve companies.

The Grand Council, health board and school board are exempt, as are any Native organizations “dedicated exclusively to the social, cultural, educational or economic development of Indians who for the most part live on reserves,” according to the new tax guidelines, which came into effect Jan. 1.

But Revenue Canada has decided that the CTA doesn’t qualify for this exemption because it has been deemed a commercial venture. This, despite the fact that the cost of harvesting furs usually exceeds the return. “They’re really a social services agency,” said a Grand Council official. “They’re trying to support the traditional lifestyle. Those guys don’t make much.” What’s more, since most trappers harvest their furs outside Category I lands, there is concern about whether their fur sales are also now taxable.

The CTA is filing an appeal of Ottawa’s decision, and the Grand Council is considering legal action.