By Jennifer Feinberg
Gary Abbott has been waiting for eight long years to be vindicated after facing charges for unlawful possession of eagle feathers.
He was one of several charged in a high-profile poaching case launched in 2006 by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
Abbott's lawyer, George Wool, informed him last week that a mistrial was about to be declared by the judge due to issues of disclosure.
"I am elated," Abbott told The Progress, before heading off for a short respite in Mexico. "It's been a long, hard run. This was a fight that needed to be fought."
He was originally charged, along with 10 others, with more than 21 counts under the BC Wildlife Act for illegally possessing and trafficking in dead wildlife.
"We are the first to fight and win against these laws," Abbott said, adding that he considers himself a "general" for his people. "Being aboriginal, the use of eagle feathers is part of our rights and title."
A traditional powwow dancer, Abbott said at the time that he had "lost" his spirit after being hit with the charges.
"Who knew we would be criminals for possessing eagle feathers," he wrote in a blog post.
Tyrone McNeil, vice-president of Sto:lo Tribal Council, was thrilled to hear about the prospect of a mistrial in this case. More....