Supreme Court rejects NB government’s attempt to appeal hunter’s First Nations status


The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a New Brunswick Court of Appeal ruling that a Bathurst-area man was exercising his Aboriginal rights when he shot a moose 12 years ago.

In a decision filed Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada denied the New Brunswick government’s request for leave to appeal last year’s decision in the Keith Boucher case.

“For Mr. Boucher, it’s, it’s a vindication of what he’s been saying all along,” said Kate Gunn, a lawyer representing Boucher, who was charged after killing a moose in 2010.

In 2017, Boucher was convicted in Bathurst Provincial Court of unlawful possession of a moose carcass contrary to Section 58 of the New Brunswick Fish and Wildlife Act.

He was sentenced to seven days in jail and to pay a fine of $1,000 and a surcharge of $200.

The charge dates back seven years earlier, when Boucher killed a moose for its meat and hide to be used in a traditional Mi’kmaq wedding for a friend.

Although Boucher has no status under the federal Indian Act, he claimed community ties to Pabineau First Nation and First Nations ancestry through his great-great-great-grand -dad.

He appealed his summary conviction and the appeal was dismissed in 2018.

It is about a person’s identity as an Aboriginal person and its relationship to their traditional practices and culture.– Kate Gunn, attorney representing Keith Boucher

In 2021, Boucher applied to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, and in March of that year, Justices Kathleen Quigg, Bradley Green, and Charles Leblond overturned both lower court decisions, quashing the conviction and granting Boucher an acquittal of the charge.

In her reasoning, Quigg said she had concluded that Boucher’s attorneys in the two previous proceedings had been ineffective in their representation.

She also said that, based on the evidence presented, Boucher has proven that he in fact has Indigenous ancestry and meets the requirements of a test established by a previous court ruling to define rights.

Gunn said the Supreme Court decision is important to Boucher in more ways than just being able to hunt moose.

Kate Gunn, a lawyer representing Keith Boucher, said the Supreme Court of Canada decision proves her right. (Radio Canada/Zoom)

“It’s about a person’s identity as Indigenous and their relationship to their traditional practices and culture, but also how Canadian law interacts with those rights and practices.

“So I think for him it’s really important.”

The New Brunswick government did not respond to a request for comment.

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