First Nations have the right to build cabins without permit
Province abandons hunt cabin appeal
A provincial appeal in the Meshake hunt cabin case has been abandoned, clearing the way for First Nations members to build hunt cabins on Crown land without permits.
The provincial appeal was to be heard Tuesday in Toronto, but the province backed down, Aroland First Nation said.
Aroland members were at the centre of the case, which saw the Ministry of Natural Resources attempt to stop Elsie and Howard Meshake from building a hunt cabin on Ogoki Lake’s Comb Island in the summer of 2003.
The MNR issued a stop-work order, saying the couple needed a work permit to build at the site, which is not part of Aroland itself, but is part of the band’s traditional territory.
Initially, a justice of the peace ruled that the Meshakes were protected by their constitutional rights under Treaty 9 in building their cabin.
Ontario appealed to the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Meshakes won.
Tuesday would have marked the province’s second appeal had it been heard. With the legal proceeding abandoned by Ontario, the lower court’s ruling stands.
“Traditionally, we would go out all over our territory to hunt, trap and fish, and we would build shelters for this purpose,” said Aroland Chief Sonny Gagnon.
“We still do this. It has taken a long struggle, but we are interpreting this move as a sign that Ontario is finally accepting our rights to build and use our cabins out on the land,” Gagnon said.