Under Canada's Firearms Act, everyone who possesses or acquires a firearm must have a firearms licence, and all restricted and prohibited firearms must be registered. While the Firearms Act applies to everyone in Canada, some provisions of the Act and of the Firearms Licences Regulations have been adapted for Aboriginal people who meet all three of the following criteria:
These adaptations facilitate the licensing process for Aboriginal people under unique circumstances while maintaining all the safety requirements of the Firearms Act.
The following summarizes the Aboriginal-specific regulations. For further information, please consult the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations (Firearms).
The only firearms licence available to new applicants aged 18 and older is the Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) (form RCMP 5592). Aboriginal persons who face difficulties applying for a licence may make use of the adaptations regulations to help complete their licence application. The Aboriginal-specific regulations address licence application challenges that may be encountered because of language differences, accessibility issues, licence eligibility concerns or conditions, minor's licence criteria, or safety certification requirements.
Where there are language difficulties with English or French, an Aboriginal applicant may use a translator or interpreter to complete the licence application form. In addition, where the Aboriginal applicant is unable to make a written statement on an application form, an oral statement can be written by an individual acting on behalf of the applicant.
All firearms licence applicants are screened for activities and behaviour that may present safety risks. The Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) for the province or territory will investigate all safety concerns and take warranted and appropriate action. In some cases, the CFO may refuse to issue a licence or impose conditions that limit the use of a firearm.
Eligible Aboriginal applicants concerned about being refused a licence or having conditions placed on their licence may ask an elder or leader in their community for a recommendation confirming the importance of the applicant engaging in traditional hunting practices. The CFO must take these recommendations into consideration.
In general, to be eligible for a Minor's Licence to use non-restricted firearms, an applicant must be at least 12 years of age. However, the Aboriginal adaptations allow Aboriginal minors under the age of 12 to obtain a licence if they engage in the traditional hunting practices of their Aboriginal community.
All Canadians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, must meet prescribed criteria for the safe handling and use of firearms and demonstrate knowledge of the laws relating to firearms. In order to apply for a licence, an individual must complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course or the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course and pass the tests. In certain situations, however, an Aboriginal elder, Aboriginal adult or Aboriginal minor may request alternative safety certification and not be required to take the firearms safety course or pass the tests:
Firearms licences for individuals aged 18 years or older must be renewed every five years. Reminders and renewal applications (form RCMP 5614) are sent to all licence holders at least 90 days before their current licence expires.
Under the Firearms Act, ammunition can be legally transferred to a person only if they possess a firearms licence. However, there are eight historical treaties between the Government of Canada and certain First Nations that provide treaty beneficiaries with certain amounts of ammunition on an ongoing, annual basis. The transfer provisions of the Firearms Act have been adapted to authorize the transfer of ammunition to treaty beneficiaries even if they do not possess a firearms licence.
Treaty ammunition is often distributed in the form of currency, and treaty beneficiaries require a valid firearms licence to purchase ammunition from a retailer.
For more information, contact the CFP.
This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.