The Facts About Metis Harvesting
Dear Fellow Canadians:
Prior to Canada’s crystallization as a country, the Métis have harvested for food in order to sustain ourselves as an Aboriginal people. We have continued this practice through the generations and it is essential to our on-going existence and health as a people.
Recently, many so-called “conservationists” have been attacking governments and the courts for recognizing the constitutional rights of the Métis people to hunt and fish for food from Ontario west. Their unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims suggest Métis harvesting is “unregulated” and will “destroy fish and wildlife supplies for others”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are the facts Canadians should know:
• Métis Nation governments from Ontario west have objectively verifiable Métis identification systems which help federal and provincial natural resources officers to identify legitimate Métis rights-holders in the field.
• Métis Nation governments have in place, or are in the process of putting in place, harvesting regulatory regimes to ensure conservation and safety. Legitimate Métis harvesters follow the rules established by Métis.
• All Métis harvesting regulatory regimes systems include a means of data collection on annual harvests. Métis Nation governments are willing to work with other stakeholders to more accurately capture and share this data when true partnerships are established.
• Métis harvesters are not “new” harvesters. Métis continue to practice the same traditional lifestyle they have for generations.
• Claims about overwhelming numbers of Métis harvesters are nothing more than fear-mongering. The fact is, it is estimated that only 10-15% of the total Métis population are active harvesters.
• The annual take by Métis harvesters is minimal in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of fish and wildlife licenses issued by provincial governments annually.
• Through governments establishing working relationships with Métis Nation governments, federal and provincial natural resources departments will have more accurate information on each year’s harvest since the Métis will be partners as opposed to an unknown commodity.
• Métis Nation government ensure conservation and safety is upheld above all else. For example, in the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement signed between the Government of Alberta and the Métis Nation of Alberta, the province’s conservation and safety regulations apply equally to Métis.
Thank you for taking the time to read about the facts on Métis harvesting.
Clément Chartier, Q.C.
Métis National Council
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