MHA Jones Urges Government to Drop Charges Against Metis Hunters
Tuesday, 04 Sep 2007
August 30, 2007 – MHA for the District of Cartwright-L-Anse au Clair, Yvonne Jones, is questioning the provincial government’s decision to reverse its stated position and charge a dozen Metis with hunting without a license, while at the same time urging that the charges be dismissed by provincial authorities.
The case involves Metis hunters who have been charged under provincial wildlife regulations, despite public reassurances in April by the provincial Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Tom Rideout, that the government would not interfere with the Metis right to hunt for subsistence. A 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision ruled that the Metis have a right to hunt for food.”These Metis hunters are native people in their own land and they have a right to hunt for food purposes,” says Jones, pointing out that not only was this right confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, it was reaffirmed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
These charges are a slap in the face to these hunters who were practicing their aboriginal rights by using their own caribou hunting tags. It shows a blatant disrespect for the rights of the Labrador Metis who live in Southern Labrador. This grave injustice has been compounded by the fact that earlier this year the minister had reassured the Metis that it recognized its right to hunt and fish and would not be enforcing any regulations unless proper conservation practices were not followed.
Jones points out that the Metis were not charged because of conservation or safety concerns, but because they did not possess a Newfoundland and Labrador license. A The Metis and the Government have an understanding that the Labrador Metis will not be harassed for exercising their aboriginal rights, but the government now decides four months after the fact to charge these hunters.
“I am questioning why the change of heart by government on this matter and why it took four months to make this decision when these hunters were told there were no charges laid. More importantly, I am calling upon government to drop these charges and not pursue this proceeding which is offensive to the Labrador Metis and their right to hunt on their land.”
Office of the Official Opposition