An exception was made for Indigenous hunters from Canada’s ban on 1,500 assault-style weapons placed by the federal government on Friday.

The exception was made for the Indigenous people to hunt or for those who hunt to sustain themselves or their families until a suitable replacement can be found.

Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said he commends the federal government for respecting the rights of Indigenous people in the country.

“The government are showing their respect by allowing the Indigenous government to address this issue as well as consult and advice our citizens on what needs to be done and why,” he said on Monday.

Chartrand added that while he is grateful the government is respecting the Indigenous rights, he said all military-style weapons should be banned for everyone including Indigenous people.

“Without a doubt, I and the (Metis) Cabinet do not support anyone owning assault weapons. We just do not believe in it,” he said.

“I think it is clear that the government is taking the right approach. Lessons are learnt and unfortunately, sometimes they are devastating lessons. The fewer weapons that are out there, the less danger and damage can be done,” he added.

As a hunter himself, Chartrand said he has not come across anyone who uses a military-style weapon to hunt.

“We use our rifles and shotguns to hunt as they are more precise so there is no need for assault weapons to be owned by anyone in Canada,” he said.

“With a military-style weapon, you would damage the meat as you will hit the organs of the animals and destroy the meat internally. Nobody should ever hunt like that; there is no logic behind it.”

Calgary lawyer Carly Fox said the federal government had to make an exception for Indigenous hunters in Canada.

“This is because the treaty and Aboriginal right to hunt is an existing right and it has not been extinguished. The right is protected under section 35 of the constitution. For the right to be infringed, Canada has to be able to prove that the infringing is justified,” ,” said Fox, a partner at Fox Fraser LLP who has advised First Nations clients on a broad of legal issues such as treaty benefits, outstanding treaty land entitlements and expropriation of reserve lands.

Fox added that she hopes the federal government consults with First Nations citizens first before doing anything that might affect their treaty rights.

“I trust that Canada will enter into deep consultation with First Nations and other Indigenous groups to determine the best way to make sure these existing Aboriginal rights are not affected,” she said.

“Maybe that could look like them working together with First Nations or other groups or even taking a look at some of the First Nations’ laws on hunting including what weapons can be used,” she added.

Fox said the federal government should share what steps they have taken so far and what their plans for the ban are in the future to determine whether their actions are deemed appropriate.

— Nicole Wong covers northern and Indigenous issues for the Winnipeg Sun under the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that supports the creation of original civic journalism.