The Tŝilhqot'in National Government (TNG) is raising concerns about the Liberal government's recent amendments to Bill C-21, which adds hunting rifles to the list of banned guns in Canada.
The TNG, which represent the Tŝilhqot'in Nation and Tŝilhqot'in communities in B.C.'s Interior, says that banning hunting tools limits their ability and right to hunt on their lands, which is protected by law.
Last week, Liberal MP Paul Chiang introduced several amendments to the bill after it had passed second reading, including adding long guns to the banned list.
The amendment also prohibits a large number of semi-automatic firearms that do not have detachable magazines and don't meet the definition of an "assault-style firearm" or infringe the other two rules, including a number of long guns widely used by Canadian hunters.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that gun control legislation is being reviewed to ensure it does not target legitimate gun use.
In a news release, Tŝilhqot'in Nits'ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse questioned the lack of consultation with Indigenous groups before making the amendments.
"We need answers," he said.
"We are hunters. Indigenous people rely on food from the land for food security, and a hunting rifle is a tool to accomplish that. Canada needs to address these concerns before moving forward with Bill C-21, or it will be challenged."
Vancouver-Granville MP Taleeb Noormohamed told the Commons committee that hunters aren't the intended target, rather, the government was focusing on "weapons that should be banned because they have been responsible for taking life — killing human beings."
The TNG and Alphonse both acknowledged the need to address gun violence in Canada but said government needs to take Indigenous people into account.
"We applaud countries like New Zealand and Australia that have dramatically reduced gun violence through gun bans —but any law must take into account the environment it exists in," Alphonse said.