Despite entering guilty pleas to trespassing charges from 2017 stemming from hunting on private land, the Penticton Indian Band retains that three band members were within their right to hunt on the land.
“By pleading guilty we do not admit that the province or private individuals are the rightful owners of the property,” said PIB Chief Chad Eneas in a news release. “These lands have always been subject to the title and rights of the Syilx Okanagan Nation.”
Councillor Fred Kruger, alongside Felix and Cole Kruger, were charged in 2017 for hunting on lands near Greyback Mountain Road without first obtaining permission from the landowner of the property. All three men were facing the following charges in Penticton Provincial Court on Jan. 29: unlawful possession of dead wildlife, trespassing on enclosed land/premises, and discharging a firearm in a no shooting area. In a joint submission, all but the trespassing charges were dropped and the trio were issued a fine.
“Our members were acting under the direction of our Elders in accordance with Syilx Law and protocol,” said Eneas. “We will always support their right to hunt for food and ceremonies in a safe and respectful manner on Syilx Okanagan lands.
Eneas said the band understands the impact the perceived offence is having in the general community. He said this plea came after the band attempted to reach an agreement with the Province of B.C. on a protocol to address concerns related to hunting on privately-held lands, but within Sn’pintktn Ancestral Lands.
“Even though the province was not prepared to enter into an agreement with us this time, we are still prepared to work together to find a way that will address these issues in a way that respects our inalienable Title and Rights,” said Eneas.
“We want to avoid situations like this from happening again,” said Eneas. “Our members are committed to exercising their rights, but we also want to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding about what that entails.”
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