This case was heard in the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench, Trial Division. Mr. Saulis had been acquitted by the New Brunswick Provincial Court. In this case, the Crown appealed that decision.
Mr. Saulis had been charged with violating the federal Fisheries Act by fishing with a net without a license. Mr. Saulis was a registered Indian and a member of the Kingsclear Indian Reserve. He had been fishing off-reserve. The trial judge had acquitted Mr. Saulis after deciding that sections 73(1) and 81(o) of the Indian Act made the Fisheries Act inapplicable to Indigenous persons living on reserve whether they were fishing on or off of the reserve. In the current case, the Court had to decide whether these sections of the Indian Act did in fact make Mr. Saulis exempt from the Fisheries Act.
The Court in this case held that the Indian Act does not make the Fisheries Act inapplicable. The Court first decided that even if the Indian Act did exempt status Indigenous persons living on reserve from the Fisheries Act, this exemption would only apply to fishing on-reserve, and Mr. Saulis was fishing off-reserve.
The Court also held that Mr. Saulis was not exempt from the Fisheries Act because of treaty rights. It held that even if Mr. Saulis was covered by a treaty that conferred rights, if these rights conflicted with federal legislation like the Fisheries Act, the federal legislation would override the treaty rights.
The trial judge’s decision was overturned. Mr. Saulis was found guilty.