Tsilhqot’in call grizzly hunt ‘illegal’ (VIDEO)
FOI emails show bureaucrats warned against the controversial grizzly hunt, and were confused if they had the Tsilhqot’in on side.
Grizzly law suits?
It’s not clear what legal steps the Tsilhqot’in might be taking next, but the tough talk could fire up other bands — many of whom are deeply offended by the trophy killing of grizzlies for sport.
Nearby St’at’imc First Nations north of Whistler told government they were “perplexed” by the province’s sudden doubling of grizzlies for the area last year. And Coastal First Nations have warned a lawsuit against the province could be in the works.
The decision to reload the hunt in 2014 also caught the always cowboy-hat wearing Tsilhqot’in Chief — Roger William of the Xeni Gwet'in band —off guard.
Tsilhqot’in Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet'in band on the footsteps of Tchaikazan mountains in March 2015. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.
"We were surprised,” said Chief William recently in a recent interview on the footsteps of Tchaikazan mountains, surrounded by his horses.
“It’s something that we weren’t fully involved, engaged, consulted and the decision certainly wasn’t with us."
The grizzlies, he said, are also sacred. The area’s many azure-blue waterways draw the bears from hundred of kilometres to feast on the fall salmon at the top of the Fraser watershed.
"In our culture, grizzlies are very important to us, and we’re taught early about the grizzly that you respect them.”
"They can hear you,” he said with a smile, “they are like a medicine person, a Dien. They’re like a spiritual power.”
"If you were to think or talk about them negatively —they’re going to show you. Usually when you least expect it they’ll give you a message, and sometime it can be your life,” said Chief William.
The proposal to open the hunt was deeply opposed by locals. The Caribou Chilcotin wildlife office counted that 92 per cent of public commentators were against the grizzly hunt, Minister Thomson was advised in a briefing note.
The few groups in favour were cattle ranchers, rifle clubs, and the province’s two large hunting lobbies.
Tsilhqot’in are planning a Tribal Park to create a mountain sanctuary for the bears with no roads, accessibly only by foot or horse wagon.
Chief Alphonse says back in 1990, when he worked at a federal fisheries job, he would be lucky to see a grizzly in a year. Now, you can see four or five a day he says.
“Long ago, grizzly bears used to be super abundant all over Canada. Now they’ve been eviscerated."