The territorial government has said the officers were investigating illegal caribou harvesting. The search warrant relied upon by the officers was later quashed in NWT Supreme Court.
A review of what took place was promised more than half a year ago. In March, Chief James Marlowe of the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation said the lack of apparent progress was “frustrating.”
“More than six months after they committed to undertaking an external investigation of the unlawful raid on our camp, the government hasn’t even appointed an investigator, let alone started the investigation,” Chief Marlowe was quoted as saying in a press release at the time.
In the legislature on Tuesday, Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Richard Edjericon sought an update from Shane Thompson, the minister responsible.
Edjericon said Thompson “has still refused to apologize and take steps to repair the relationships with Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation,” despite the court quashing the search warrant.
Thompson, asked when the review of officers’ conduct would be completed, said it would not begin until the illegal caribou harvesting investigation concluded. No further timeline was given.
“Once the investigation is completed, work is currently under way to be ready to start the officers’ conduct review,” the minister said.
Pressed on when that would be, Thompson added: “When the report’s done, we will make sure… we’ll get the report done when we get it done.”
Pointing to the court’s earlier decision, Edjericon said: “I find it a little bit confusing. The judge has already made [their] decision. This case has already been thrown out.”
While the court action related to the search warrant has taken place, the GNWT has maintained that its illegal caribou harvesting investigation continues. There has been no update on the status of that investigation.
Thompson said he had met with Chief Marlowe face to face, but did not commit to Edjericon’s request of a visit to Łutsël K’é “to discuss a better collaborative relationship,” saying he would consider doing so once the investigation is complete.
“I acknowledge that the search at Timber Bay was very difficult for some of the people at the camp who were not harvesting wildlife, or were harvesting wildlife in a respectful and lawful way,” Thompson said.
“This was not the intent of the officers. At the time, our officers understood that they were carrying out a lawful search based on a warrant issued by the justice of the peace.
“As the investigation of this case is ongoing, I am unable to speak more on this.”