Christine Creyke, lands director for the Tahltan Central Government, was appointed to Canada’s gun advisory committee in February. (Tahltan Central Government photo)

B.C. Indigenous woman appointed to Canada’s gun advisory committee

First Nations and northern voices were both missing in discussions

Canada’s gun advisory committee now has Indigenous representation.

Christine Creyke, who is the lands director for the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) and manages environment, wildlife and resources throughout the territory, was appointed to the committee along with former B.C. Supreme Court judge and attorney general Wally Oppal as the committee’s new chair.

Creyke’s appointment marks the first time since 2017 that the CFAC has had Indigenous representation.

“Wallace Oppal and Christine Creyke add invaluable experience and expertise to this important work, and will help inform new measures to make our country less vulnerable to the scourge of gun violence, while being fair to responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and businesses,” says Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale in a press release.

The CFAC advises the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on Canada’s firearms policies, laws and regulations. The 10-member group includes civilian firearms users, farmers, law enforcement officials, public health advocates and women’s organizations.

READ MORE: Feds eye tougher screening of gun owners for mental health, violence concerns

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Geography from UNBC in 2006, Creyke pursued masters-level studies through the university’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies program. She has experience in policy development for oil and gas, wildlife and hunting regulations, and is heavily involved with the Tahltan community.

Creyke was in Ottawa for the committee’s first meeting on Feb. 20, the fifth meeting since the CFAC was renewed in 2017.

She says she can help the committee’s direction on firearms issues to consider First Nations, northern and rural perspectives.

“I grew up in the North, I live my life in the North,” Creyke says. “Under my department, we deal with a lot of the hunting regulations and resident hunters in the territory. My family has a guide and outfitting business and I grew up in that kind of community.”

During her first meeting, she says the committee discussed changes in firearm storage that may come as a result of Bill C-71, a proposed federal bill would introduce new national gun legislation to enhance background checks, enforce mandatory recordkeeping requirements for retailers and tighten rules for travelling with firearms.

Risks associated with gun storage and theft in residential areas were topics Creyke could speak about from experience, especially in relation to how firearms can be used as protection for people living in rural communities with close proximity to wildlife.

“A lot of people’s perspectives were from urban settings and what that means for storing firearms and having those safety precautions in place because having firearms in residential areas is a big concern,” she says.

“But I was talking about safety from predators, like grizzly bears.”

Grizzly bears have been active in and around Tahltan communities later into what is normally their hibernation season.

TCG Wildlife Department issued a community notice last December that advised residents to be extra vigilant for “the potential of grizzly bears being out of hibernation throughout the winter,” and they were tracking three active bears in the territory.

Changing food sources and overpopulation of the backcountry are suspected to play a role in bears not having the fat stores to allow them to successfully hibernate. The bears are then likely going to be overly aggressive when looking for food, the notice read.

In this situation, firearms play a large role in ensuring people’s safety, Creyke says.

Last November, a teacher and her 10-month-old daughter were killed in a grizzly bear attack while at their cabin in the Yukon.

READ MORE: Mother killed in Yukon bear attack was passionate about nature, languages

“Having a firearm is part of my everyday life because of predators, and that’s where my safety perspective is coming from,” she says.

Issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women, domestic violence and suicide rates are also areas that can disproportionately affect First Nations communities.

A 2018 Canada-wide study on national health inequalities found suicide rates were 6.5 times higher in places with a concentration of Inuit people and 3.7 times higher for First Nations people. Indigenous women in Canada are also 2.7 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence, according to Statistics Canada.

Creyke says these issues need to be considered when talking about the nation’s gun laws, areas she can provide significant perspective and insight on for fairer representation moving forward.

“From my perspective, there wasn’t a Northern voice on [CFAC], or a northern Aboriginal one,” she says. “If there are these data gaps, then what else should they be looking at and who else should they be speaking to?”

Both Creyke and Oppal will hold their committee positions for two-year terms.

*CORRECTION* An earlier version of this story misidentified the child killed by a grizzly bear last fall as 10 years old. She was 10 months old. We apologize for this mistake.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Community Centre Elder College celebrates 20th anniversary

Volunteer instructors are the key to success.

Flashback: Teddy bears, dinosaurs, cougars, oh my!

Remember these stories from Cowichan Lake?

Drivesmart column: Clear your frosty windows BEFORE driving

85 per cent of the information we require to drive safely comes to us through our eyes.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Most Read