A local indigenous man who tried to smuggle two handguns across the Canada/US border has learned that the courts do indeed have jurisdiction over him.
Alex Louie, who goes by the name “Senk-lip,” was given the mandatory minimum sentence of three years in jail on Monday.
Judge Arne Silverman said if Louie was a non-indigenous man he would have sentenced him to four years in jail. This is because non-aboriginals do not fall under the same “Gladue” sentencing principles that First Nations people do (relating to their background).
Louie, age 50, attempted to cross the Osoyoos border on Feb. 1, 2017 with two handguns tied under his vehicle. When asked if he had any firearms to declare, he said no.
Border officers subsequently searched his vehicle and found the guns, plus ammunition.
In previous appearances, Louie argued that the courts do not have jurisdiction over him because no treaty was ever signed with the Crown. Therefore, he should be able to move across the border freely, he added. First Nations hold the title to this land, he also reminded the judge.
But Silverman said Louie was wasting the court’s time with these arguments, saying aboriginal rights are trumped by the country’s right to protect people from harm, especially from individuals smuggling guns.
Considering time already served, Louie will spend another 15.5 months in jail. He will also be subjected to a lifetime ban on possessing prohibited firearms, and a 10-year ban on weapons.