RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

To Build a Log Cabin: Sundown versus the Queen

R v Sundown

Year: 1999

Court: Supreme Court of Canada

Citation: [1999] 1 SCR 393

Location: SK

TAGS: Hunting Rights; Harvesting Rights; Treaty Rights

The right to hunt includes activities reasonably incidental to the act of hunting. 


In R v Sundown, the accused was a member of the Joseph Bighead First Nation that was a party to Treaty No. 6. Contrary to the Parks Regulations, 1991, the accused cut down trees in a provincial park and used them to build a log cabin. The cabin was necessary shelter for an expedition hunt, which was a traditional hunting practice for the accused’s band. According to Treaty 6, the accused was entitled to hunt for food in the provincial park. However, the Parks Regulations, 1991 prohibited the construction of a temporary or permanent dwelling without permission. They also prohibited the harvesting or damaging of trees without consent. The accused was convicted of building a permanent dwelling on park land without permission. The summary conviction appeal court quashed the conviction, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, who dismissed the appeal. 

Why this Case Matters: 

In this decision, the SCC affirmed that the right to hunt includes activities reasonably incidental to the act of hunting. The SCC also remarked that a frozen-in-time approach to Aboriginal and treaty rights is inappropriate. In this case, the shelter constructed was essential to the expeditionary hunting method and therefore reasonably incidental to the Joseph Bighead First Nation’s hunting rights. 

Supreme Court Judgment: 


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