Historic time for Metis - MMF harvester cards recognized
Tuesday, October 5 2004
Selkirk Journal — They say it’s a decision that’s been 120 years in the making.
After years of negotiation, the province and the Manitoba Metis Federation have finally come to terms on the issuing of harvester cards. Issued by the MMF, the cards give Metis the same hunting rights as status Indians.
The Selkirk Red River Metis Local branch of the MMF applauded the news, announced at the MMF’s recent annual general assembly. The Selkirk local represents over 1,500 members in the Selkirk, Lockport, Clandeboye and Petersfield areas, chair Ron Fewchuk said.
The decision is significant locally because many of the province’s Metis can trace their bloodlines back to Lord Selkirk’s Red River settlement.
The MMF issued its first harvester card in September, which set up a confrontation with the province’s conservation department. Before announcing it would respect the cards, the province had claimed Metis who broke the hunting rules set out in the Manitoba Wildlife Act would be charged. Though the province is onside with the cards, Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said, the final rules regarding their issuance are still being ironed out.
“From day one, we’ve been saying we are open to developing a legitimate card-based system within the bounds of the Powley case,” Struthers said last week.
He said the province couldn’t ignore the September 2003 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that said Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Metis Steve Powley was within his rights when he shot a moose without purchasing a license. The decision was celebrated by the Manitoba Metis community as a recognition of their rights as a distinct nation separate from First Nations people.
Conservation is now working toward setting up a card program with the MMF, Struthers said.
“We’re well underway with the research that needs to take place to implement the Powley decision,” he said. “We’ve invited the MMF to take place in that process. We want to work with the MMF to determine who may qualify for those rights.”
The MMF’s genealogy requirements for the harvester cards may exclude some Manitoba Metis, Struthers said, adding that the province will work toward adopting a certification system along the lines of what was laid out in the Powley ruling.
In the meantime, Struthers said, cards already issued by the MMF will be treated with “common sense”. “We will employ common sense as an enforcement agency,” he said. “We want to be able to employ the direction given in the Powley Supreme Court case, and that’s been our premise from the beginning.”
The province’s recognition of the cards is a huge victory for Metis who have grown up hunting for sustenance, Fewchuk said.
“We have always maintained that we have the right to hunt for our food,” he said, stressing that the cards come with a mandate to promote hunting conservation practices. Like the Powley decision, the harvester cards are an affirmation of the Metis nation, Selkirk local office manager Ramona Forest said.
“This is a recognition that the Metis are distinct people of Canada separate from First Nations people,” she said.
“I grew up in the North – I didn’t know what store bought meat was. When I was told I couldn’t live that way anymore, it was difficult. This gives us freedom.”
Fewchuk and Forest say all the credit for the decision should go to MMF President David Chartrand, who they say has worked tirelessly for the Metis.
By Andrew Buck
- Southeast MMF Newsletter - March 2013
- Canada's Metis Partner Given Cold Shoulder in Federal Budget of Inaction
- Manitoba Métis Urge Clean Environment Commission to Withhold Recommendation on Bipole III Transmission Project
- Louis Riel Day
- MEDO nominated for Spirit Award
- Manitoba Métis Put Manitoba Hydro On Notice About Bipole III - MMF President Testifies at Clean Environment Commission
- MMF President David Chartrand to Receive Honorary Law Degree
- Current State of Metis Law in Canada
- Metis Are Open for Business
- UWinnipeg first to offer Youth In Care Tuition Waivers
- Métis Nation a long way from reconciliation; Efforts continue for recognition and compensation for Métis residential and day school survivors