Alberta Métis Begin Holding Traditional Hunts Throughout Alberta
EDMONTON, Oct. 17 – Today, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) announced the start of traditional Métis hunts being held throughout Alberta.
The hunts are being organized by appointed Captains of the Hunt with the support of Métis harvesters throughout the province. These hunts are a part of the MNA’s Métis Harvesting Action Plan that was unanimously adopted by the MNA Annual General Assembly held in August 2007.
“As our people have for generations, we will continue to practice our culture and traditions throughout the province by providing food for our families and Elders this fall,” MNA President Audrey Poitras said. “I want to thank the Captains of the Hunt and our harvesters for working with the MNA’s leadership in organizing these traditional hunts. Based on the MNA’s Harvesting Policy and the direction from the MNA Assembly, the MNA will stand behind and support our harvesters as they exercise their constitutional rights, regardless of the unilateral and legally unenforceable policy adopted by Ted Morton, the current Minister for Sustainable Resource Development (SRD).”The first Métis traditional harvests are set for this weekend; one will take place west of Hinton and another in the Cypres Hills area. The hunts will bring together Métis from throughout the province and will include traditional Métis foods, music and dancing. MNA members are encouraged to contact the MNA for additional information and to come out and visit the hunting camps to show their support.
“We are extremely excited to host the first of these traditional Métis hunts,” Ron Jones, one of the Captains of the Hunt said. “The Métis people have a long history of working together to provide for our families and the Métis Nation as a whole. This upcoming hunt is a part of that long tradition. It also provides our people an opportunity to share in our unique culture and pass our traditions on to the next generation.”
MNA Minister for Métis Rights, Cecil Bellrose, said, “Ted Morton is going to have to realize that he cannot abolish Métis rights on a whim. The Métis people have been in this province, exercising our rights, long before Ted Morton ever stepped foot in Alberta. We will be here, exercising our rights, long after he is the Minister of SRD. It is unfortunate that he has politicized this issue, rather than truly caring about the future of Alberta’s natural resources by ensuring Métis rights are accommodated within Alberta’s regulatory regime.”
“The MNA also wants to acknowledge the extremely difficult position Minister Morton’s policy puts SRD Wildlife Officers in. Over the last two and a half years, while the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) was in place, many of our harvesters established effective on-the-ground working relationships with SRD. Our harvesters remain committed to continuing to show respect to SRD Wildlife Officers in the field, regardless of their Minister’s ill-conceived policy.” Bellrose added.
Poitras concluded, “The MNA remains committed to working with the Alberta Government in partnership on Métis harvesting. The MNA has written to the Alberta Government outlining how good faith negotiations can resume on Métis harvesting. Until then, the MNA will continue to stand united on Métis rights by implementing our Action Plan and defending Métis harvesters against Ted Morton’s unilateral and regressive Métis harvesting policy.”
Background on Métis Harvesting in Alberta
In September 2004, the MNA and the Alberta Government entered into an Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) to accommodate Métis harvesting rights throughout Alberta based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Powley case. The IMHA worked effectively for over two and a half years.
In August 2006, the MNA and the Alberta Government engaged in renewed discussions for a longer-term agreement. Based on these negotiations, the MNA President and the Minister for International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations reached Points of Agreement for a new arrangement in May 2007. Unfortunately, Ted Morton, the current Minister for SRD refused to work with the MNA to implement these Points of Agreement and cancelled the IMHA. Morton then adopted a unilateral and regressive policy on Métis harvesting in July 2007. This policy excludes Métis living in central and southern Alberta, ignores the Alberta Government’s own research on Métis claims and draw arbitrary lines that limit traditional Métis harvesting practices.
In August 2007, the MNA Assembly unanimously rejected Ted Morton’s policy. Since with the cancellation of the IMHA, Alberta laws do not accommodate Métis harvesting, the Assembly adopted its MNA Harvesting Policy and Métis harvesters will continue to exercise their constitutional rights pursuant to the MNA Policy, regardless of Ted Morton’s policy. The MNA will support Métis harvesters who are following the MNA Harvesting Policy and charged by SRD. As well, the MNA Assembly adopted an Action Plan on Métis Harvesting that focuses on four areas: exercising Métis rights, defending Métis rights, political action on Métis rights and public education on Métis rights. For copies of these documents or more information visit www.albertametis.com
For further information: Monique Devlin, MNA Communications, Ph: (780) 455-2200