Métis Harvesting Rights Update – July 2018
Over the past year, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has collaborated with the Government of Alberta (GoA) to evaluate and redefine Métis harvesting rights.
As part of this collaborative work, the MNA hosted a series of engagement sessions across Alberta. We had 800 attendees and received 757 paper and online surveys.
With this feedback, we are negotiating a new Métis harvesting policy with the GoA. Our findings have been submitted to the GoA Cabinet, and we expect a decision very soon.
What We Heard
When engagement sessions wrapped up, we compiled a What We Heard report summarizing harvester’s feedback into key themes.
Click here to read the What We Heard report.
Click here for a printable copy of the What We Heard report.
The MNA has never supported the current harvesting policy, Métis Harvesting in Alberta, unilaterally implemented by the GoA in 2007. This year, we were finally able to have meaningful discussions about this policy’s deficiencies.
On February 1, 2017, the GoA signed a framework agreement committing to recognize and respect Métis rights in Alberta. This progress was further bolstered by another agreement, signed August 2017, A Way Forward: Métis Harvesting in Alberta. It was the A Way Forward agreement which identified the need for collaborative engagement sessions with the people most affected by the province’s harvesting policy — the harvesters.
If you’d like to learn more about the collaborative work the GoA and the MNA are undertaking with respect to Métis harvesting, read A Way Forward: Métis Harvesting in Alberta.
If you would like clarification of your current harvesting rights, please contact the MNA Harvesting Manager:
Tel: (780)455-2200 Ext. 256
As hunting season approaches, the MNA is taking measures to ensure Harvesters have access to useful information.
In May of this year, the MNA released a memo on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and its potential to be transferred to humans. To date, there are no known human cases of CWD.
The below links provide further information on CWD.
For further information on Provincial regulations and Fish and Wildlife contact details, get in touch with your local office.
Federal Firearms Legislation
All harvesters should be aware of federal laws surrounding the acquisition, possession, transportation and use of weapons and ammunition. For further information contact your local police service or the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1-800-731-4000 or visit the Centre’s website.
Extract: Memo from President Poitras on Métis Rights Agenda
TO: MNA Members, Locals, Regions and Provincial Council
FROM: Audrey Poitras, MNA President
DATE: August 1, 2017
RE: Update on Métis Rights
Métis Harvesting Rights
As most members should be aware, the MNA-Alberta Framework Agreement, which was signed in February 2017, included Alberta’s commitment to facilitate “the recognition and respect of Métis rights in Alberta that upholds the honour of the Crown and advances reconciliation.” Since that time, we have been working hard with Alberta to implement this agreement. With respect to Métis harvesting, the agreement committed Alberta to:
“Pursue collaborative discussions with the Ministry of Environment and Parks with respect to Métis harvesting rights;”
As most of you know, the MNA has never agreed with or supported Alberta’s unilaterally imposed Métis Harvesting Policy. This policy was put into place in 2007 after our Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (“IMHA”) was cancelled by the Ed Stelmach Government and Ted Morton. Since that time, we have turned to the courts and have taken political action to overturn this flawed provincial policy.
Because of our consistent and collective efforts, Alberta has now agreed to begin formal discussions with the MNA on reviewing and updating this policy. For your information, I am attaching a letter recently received from Alberta indicating that they now have a mandate from Cabinet to collaborate with us on reviewing this policy. In the next few weeks, we hope to finalize mutually agreeable terms of reference to guide our efforts.
Then the hard work will begin—at the negotiations table with Alberta. At the same time, we will be engaging in province-wide consultations in the Fall of 2017 to inform our positions at the table and to receive input from our members on the issues identified in the attached letter. I am cautiously optimistic that real progress can be made on this file, so our Métis harvesters can exercise their constitutionally-protected rights without fear of harassment or prosecution.
Download the full Métis Rights Memo here.
Métis Harvesting Rights Update – August 2015
During August of 2015, a Métis rights update document was prepared by Pape Salter Teillet LLP. This legal document contains an overview of current harvesting rights, which reads as follows:
“While we were not ultimately successful in our appeal in the Hirsekorn case before the Alberta Court of Appeal and may not agree with the court’s conclusion, we must live with the result of the case for the time being. We must also remember that case only dealt with the area in and around Cypress Hills.
The Hirsekorn case does not mean that there are no Métis harvesting rights in all of southern Alberta. Nor does it mean that Alberta does not need to negotiate with the MNA on this issue or that Alberta’s current Métis Harvesting Policy should be maintained.
For example, it is important to highlight that the courts did make some helpful findings with respect to Métis rights in Alberta in Hirsekorn. Firstly, the Alberta Court of Appeal rejected Alberta’s arguments that Métis communities are “dots on a map” or limited to “settlements”. Specifically, the court wrote,
 I conclude that the historical rights bearing communities of the plains Métis are best considered as regional in nature, as opposed to settlement-based.
Secondly, the trial judge found there was a large regional Métis community that extends throughout parts of southern, central and northern Alberta, along the North Saskatchewan river system. Specifically, the court wrote,
 The evidence has shown that an historical Métis community existed in the region of what is present day Edmonton and district. This group of North Saskatchewan Métis included the settlements of Fort Edmonton, St. Albert, Lac St. Anne, Victoria, Lac La Biche, and Rocky Mountain House. The Métis people in this region had a distinctive collective identity, lived together in the same geographical area and shared a common way of life.
Since the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision, Alberta has not modified its Métis Harvesting Policy. Its current policy of identifying Métis communities “settlement-by-settlement” does not square with the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision. It also does not recognize Métis harvesting rights in areas around Rocky Mountain House, Tail Creek and Edmonton.
More importantly, Alberta’s current approach to granting “letters” to Métis harvesters still leaves the identification of eligible Métis harvesters in the hands of government bureaucrats, not the Métis Nation. This is wrong in law and is inconsistent with the UN Declaration. This policy must change. The MNA, as the representative government of the Métis people, must play a role in the identification of legitimate Métis rights-holders.”
Please click here for the Métis Rights Update document in its entirety.