Decision Date: February 18, 2010
Panel: David Searle, CM, QC
Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 42, 43, 45; Commercial Activities Regulation – ss. 3.14, 3.15; trapline; registration
Virginia Capot-Blanc appealed a decision of the Regional Manager, Environmental Stewardship, Peace Region, Ministry of Environment (the “Ministry”), regarding who should be registered on a family trapline located near Fort Nelson, BC. In making his decision, the Regional Manager had relied on registry information from 1961 showing “Samuel Capot-Blanc & Family” as the registered trapline owners, and his interpretation of the word “family” to include the nieces and nephews of Samuel Capot-Blanc that were alive in 1961. Samuel Capot-Blanc was the Appellant’s third oldest son, and the trapline was registered in his name in 1961 after the Appellant’s oldest son died. There had been a falling out between the Appellant’s second oldest son and the rest of the family in the 1950’s. Samuel Capot-Blanc died in 2007, raising the question of who should be named in the trapline register.
The Appellant argued that the Regional Manager’s interpretation of “family” was too broad, and should be restricted to herself, her three daughters, and Robert Capot-Blanc, who is the Appellant’s grandson but was raised by her. The Appellant’s appeal was supported by her daughters, who were Third Parties in the appeal.
Several other Third Parties, who were the sons and daughters of the Appellant’s second oldest son (the “Other Third Parties”), opposed the appeal. They are the nephews and nieces of Samuel Capot-Blanc who the Regional Manager decided were registered on the trapline. They argued that “family” should be interpreted broadly, and the Regional Manager should have included all of their siblings, and not just those born before 1961.
The Board found that the evidence indicated that no one traps on the trapline now, although various family members, including the Appellant’s second oldest son and some of the Other Third Parties, had trapped on it in the past. The evidence indicated that the main benefit of being named on the trapline register is that the persons who are named receive monetary compensation from oil and gas companies that conduct activities in the area covered by the trapline.
The Board found that, under section 42 of the Wildlife Act, a person’s interest in a trapline is a tenancy in common, and a family dispute cannot cause a person’s interest in a trapline to be lost. Based on the evidence, the Board found that the trapping rights of the Appellant’s second oldest son remained undiminished until his death. The Board also found that the records in the trapline register showed that family members’ names were added and deleted from the register after 1961, as births and deaths became known to registry staff. Based on the evidence, the language in section 8 of the Interpretation Act, and the fact that Samuel Capot-Blanc died in 2007, the Board determined that the words “Samuel Capot-Blanc & Family” should be interpreted to include his nieces and nephews, and his other family members, who were alive before his death in 2007. Consequently, the Board confirmed the Regional Manager’s decision, and held that additional family members who were born before Samuel Capot-Blanc’s death and who believe they should be added to the register may apply to be added.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.