Harvesting Rights

 

Métis Harvesting Rights Update

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,

[63] 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,

[115] 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.

 

Métis Harvesting Policy

As of today, the MNA does not have a harvesting policy. For additional information related to harvesting rights in Alberta, please contact:

Tyler Fetch
Tel: 780-455-2200
Email: tfetch@metis.org