JAMES MATTHEW SIMON v. THE QUEEN (1985)


This 1985 case concerns Matthew Simon, a Micmac of the Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, band, who had been stopped by the RCMP on a public road adjacent to the reserve. He was charged with being in possession of a shotgun and shell during closed hunting season, in violation of the provincial Lands and Forest Act. Simon argued that the terms of the Treaty of 1752 entitled him to “Free Liberty of hunting and fishing.” The province argued that no treaty rights existed because, among other reasons, the treaty had been terminated by subsequent hostilities, and in any case all Nova Scotia treaties had been “superseded by law.” Furthermore, unless Simon could trace his own ancestry to the signers of the treaty, he could not prove that it applied to him. (Note: The treaty referred to “Delegates of the said Tribe, for themselves and their said Tribe their heirs and the heirs of their heirs forever.”)

The Supreme Court acquitted Simon. The justices’ decision has been interpreted by Micmacs as confirming that the Treaty of 1752 is valid, that it recognizes and protects M Read More
JAMES MATTHEW SIMON v. THE QUEEN (1985)


This 1985 case concerns Matthew Simon, a Micmac of the Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, band, who had been stopped by the RCMP on a public road adjacent to the reserve. He was charged with being in possession of a shotgun and shell during closed hunting season, in violation of the provincial Lands and Forest Act. Simon argued that the terms of the Treaty of 1752 entitled him to “Free Liberty of hunting and fishing.” The province argued that no treaty rights existed because, among other reasons, the treaty had been terminated by subsequent hostilities, and in any case all Nova Scotia treaties had been “superseded by law.” Furthermore, unless Simon could trace his own ancestry to the signers of the treaty, he could not prove that it applied to him. (Note: The treaty referred to “Delegates of the said Tribe, for themselves and their said Tribe their heirs and the heirs of their heirs forever.”)

The Supreme Court acquitted Simon. The justices’ decision has been interpreted by Micmacs as confirming that the Treaty of 1752 is valid, that it recognizes and protects Micmac hunting rights, and that there is no evidence that hostilities terminated it. In addition, the Supreme Court said, a present-day Indian would only have to establish a significant connection with those who signed the original Treaty – proof of descendancy cannot be required. In rendering its decision, the court held that the Treaty protects hunting rights at least on reserve lands. As a result, Simon had the right to transport guns and ammunition safely to those areas, and his possession of firearms was not in violation to the provincial law. On the assumption that Nova Scotia game laws no longer apply to Micmacs, the Union of Nova Scotia Indians has issued a set of guidelines to govern Micmac hunting in the province.

- Robert M. Leavitt, Maliseet & Micmac: First Nations of the Maritimes. Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1995, p. 235

© Robert M. Leavitt. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the circumstances surrounding the 1985 Supreme Court of Canada case concerning Mi'qmaq James Matthew Simon.

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