Nunavut government appeals decision to halt case against Igloolik hunter

Michael Irngaut of Igloolik shot a caribou in 2015 while a hunting ban was in effect

The Government of Nunavut is appealing Chief Justice Neil Sharkey’s decision to stay two charges against an Igloolik man for hunting caribou while a hunting ban was in effect. (File photo)

By Thomas Rohner
Special to Nunatsiaq News

The Government of Nunavut says that the territory’s chief justice “erred” when he let an Igloolik hunter off the hook for illegally harvesting a caribou during the 2015 Baffin Island caribou ban.

The hunter should still face the two charges under the Wildlife Act that Chief Justice Neil Sharkey stayed, the government said in court documents filed in at the Nunavut Court of Appeal in April.

Michael Irngaut, a 22-year-old Canadian Ranger at the time, admitted to shooting a male caribou in February 2015 while on patrol. A government ban on hunting Baffin Island caribou came into effect January 1, 2015.

Irngaut was charged with two offences under Nunavut’s Wildlife Act.

But Irngaut, who shared the harvested caribou with other Rangers, told Sharkey that he never would have shot the caribou if he had known there was a ban.

Before harvesting the animal, Irngaut asked a local elder and member of the hunter and trappers association for permission to hunt the animal, Sharkey heard.

That elder told Irngaut there was no ban in effect.

Sharkey stayed the charges against Irngaut in a decision released earlier this year in March.

In that decision Sharkey said the unusual circumstances in the case, including geographical isolation and false information from an elder in authority, led to “officially induced error.”

But the Government of Nunavut disagreed. In a notice of appeal filed with the courts April 5, the government said Sharkey was wrong to conclude such an error had been made.

“The court erred in finding that the … contravention of the harvesting ban was the result of officially induced error,” wrote the GN’s lawyer, Adrienne Silk.

Silk was not in court July 24 when the case came up for discussion before Justice Paul Bychok, who presided over the Court of Appeal’s speak-to list.

Bychok adjourned the matter in the Court of Appeal until Nov. 13. Before then, the court would contact Silk “to find out why she was absent today.”

Irngaut’s lawyer, Benson Cowan, said he expects the government to file more documents in the coming weeks to support this appeal.

“This is a summary conviction appeal,” Cowan told Bychok.

Summary convictions are considered lesser charges than indictable convictions, for example for violent crimes. Those charged with summary offences have their cases heard before a judge only, and do not have the right to a jury trial.

07-19-002-CAP – Irngaut by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by NBK on

    Ignorance is not an excuse. If this occurred south of the 60th parallel the decision would be different.

    • Posted by snapshot on

      In Nunavut it can be an excuse, because we can also hunt in National Parks!

      • Posted by Land claims agreement on

        Politicians who negotiated the land claim agreement were smart to make sure Nunavut beneficiaries were able to hunt where ever and when ever. Land claim was signed by the queen. Read the article 5 under the agreement and you will see.

      • Posted by iThink on

        Typically I would agree that ignorance is not an excuse. This seems a little less clear to me though.

    • Posted by Gobble Gobble on

      Ignorance can actually be an excuse, in the case of officially induced error. Officially induced error arises where the accused is given advice in error that the accused relies upon in doing the criminal act.
      Officially induced error is available as a defence to prevent morally blameless individuals, who believe they are acting in a lawful manner, from being convicted.
      In this case, a 22 year old received advice from an elder, also an HTO member, and if I remember correctly, was given over telecommunications while the elder was in town at the HTO Office.
      I don’t disagree with Sharkey on this one. Hard to fault the hunter.

  2. Posted by Hungry people on

    One man, one caribou and how much $ is being spent on this appeal during these lean times? Really GN?

  3. Posted by Umingmak on

    This is the GN’s priority? Spending thousands of dollars fighting one man who was given false advice? It’s not like there’s a housing crisis, food insecurity, high suicide rates or anything more important, hey?

  4. Posted by John on

    GN stop wasting my tax money! You lost deal with it, the NLCA is in place and you have to follow it, enough and stop wasting money!

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