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The Supreme court overturned, a ruling by the Supreme court of Alberta which had found Alex Frank, a resident of Saskatchewan's Little Pine reserve, guilty of hunting for food in Alberta contrary to the provisions of the Alberta Wildlife act.
Frank had been apprehended for killing a moose near Nordegg, Alberta in January, 1974.
The Supreme Court ruled that both Treaty Six and the 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreements permits Indians to hunt for food in provinces where they do not live.
In his written judgement supported unanimously by the eight other Supreme Court justices, Mr. Justice J. Dickson asserted that paragraph 12 of the Alberta Natural Resources Transfer Agreement gives all Indians within the boundaries of the province the right to hunt for food. It does not only apply to resident Indians, the judge said.
"It would appear that the overall purpose of paragraph 12 of the agreement was to effect a merger and consolidation of the treaty rights enjoyed by the Indians. But of equal importance was the desire to re-state and reassure to the treaty Indians the continued enjoyment of the right to hunt for food," Mr. Justice Dickson wrote.
He noted that it was suggested in argument before the court that if application of the paragraph was limited to only resident Indians, nonresident treaty Indians would have an unrestricted right to hunt under the terms of Treaty Six. The Natural Resources Transfer Agreement limited their right to hunt for food only.
"This would place non-resident Indians in a more favored position than resident Indians, the activities of the latter being confined to hunting for food alone," Mr. Justice Dickson said. "I do not believe that paragraph 12 was ever intended to place Indians resident in Alberta in a position of advantage or disadvantage (in relation to) Indians normally resident elsewhere, or to fragment treaty areas by provincial boundaries."
"It is perhaps of interest that of the 11 numbered treaties which were entered into by the government of Canada with the Indians, virtually all cross provincial boundaries."