Nemaska tallyman Freddy Jolly is declaring victory in his two-year legal battle with the Quebec wildlife department.

Jolly’s lawyer entered a guilty plea to the charge of violating the federal Migratory Birds Act.

Then, in a May 30 decision, a judge granted Jolly an unconditional discharge.

The sentence means Jolly won’t have a criminal record and can still use firearms.

Jolly was charged after inviting two non-Native teachers from the community to hunt on his trapline during goose break in the fall of 1998.

The two teachers got fines of $300 each. Neither is still in Nemaska. Jolly had faced a maximum fine of $50,000 and could have lost his ability to use or own a gun.

“I’m in the middle between happy and disappointed,” said Jolly. “I was only sharing the land, teaching them. They never killed anything.”

The tallyman of the R-21 trapline said the teachers had hoped to bag two geese for a walking-out ceremony for the son of one of the teachers. Jolly’s brother turned him in to the game warden.

“I’m happy for the Crees. I’m happy this thing has been settled. It was a load on me,” Jolly said. “Everybody’s welcome to my trapline.”

Jolly’s lawyer, Guy Prud’homme, was a little more cautious. “The message I see there is tallymen should beware of inviting non-Natives on their land to hunt out of season. Non-Natives have to respect the law,” he said.

Jolly’s legal defense was assumed by the Grand Council of the Crees, which got involved to ensure the case didn’t impact on Cree rights.

“It was important for us to try and get him off without a criminal record” because Jolly’s ability to hunt would have been jeopardized, said Prud’homme.

Jolly said he’s unhappy the teachers got fined: “I wish they could recognize us, the tallymen, to share the land, to teach.”