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 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.