New Alberta Métis harvest rights depend on lineage

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has a new harvesting agreement with the government of Alberta.

Harvesting rights include the right to hunt, fish and trap.

To be eligible, a person must have a valid MNA citizenship, have Métis ancestors who lived in the harvesting area prior to 1900, and meet MNA’s policy for a current connection with the harvesting area.

The new Métis Harvesting in Alberta Policy came into effect September 1, 2019.

On August 27, Craig Letendre, MNA harvesting coordinator, led an information session in Slave Lake. The next day he gave one in High Prairie.

Since hunting and fishing are regulated provincially, the agreement is only for harvesting within Alberta, says Letendre. It is also only for Métis whose ancestors lived in Alberta.

A person who lives in Slave Lake, has a valid MNA card, and has a genealogy that shows a Métis relative living in the area prior to 1900, should be eligible for three zones under the new act.

However, a Métis living in the area, who moved from Manitoba or whose family did after 1900 is not eligible to be an Alberta Métis harvest. Even if they are an MNA citizen.

MNA citizenship requires historic proof of Métis ancestry and current residence in Alberta.

“Métis means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation,” says the MNA website.

The Métis homeland is from the eastern edge of BC to western Ontario.

“There are no rights federally,” Letendre says. Alberta harvesters “have no rights in the Yukon or other provinces. It’s going to be a long time before it’s Canada-wide”

“It excludes Métis from other province,” Letendre says. “That’s a talk that the Métis National Council has to have.”

Letendre recommends that people keep digging if they don’t find a Métis relative born or living in Alberta prior to 1900.

In one case he’s worked with, the person had a genealogy going back to 1840, but no proof of an ancestor in Alberta. Digging deeper, they found evidence of an ancestor born in Edmonton House in 1805; this gave them harvesting rights in Zone D.

The 1901 census can be used to prove an ancestor lived in Alberta prior to 1900, says the harvest agreement.

MNA uses a valid MNA citizenship to meet the requirement of a current connection to a harvesting area, says Letendre.

The new harvesting policy has four overlapping zones in northern and central Alberta. The 2010 policy had 25 much smaller harvesting areas.

“Overlaps are good for us,” says Letendre.

Lesser Slave Lake and the surrounding towns are in Zone C. High Prairie and Grouard are also in Zone A. Slave Lake is in three zones: B, C, and D.

Métis do not currently have any harvesting rights in southern Alberta. This is because of a court case several years ago, says Letendre. “The crown deemed that there were no Métis historically in southern Alberta.”

The new agreement has a clause which allows negotiation on this point, says Letendre. The MNA has been gathering historic evidence of Métis in southern Alberta and intends to fight for harvesting rights in this portion of the province.

“There’s tons of information,” Letendre says, whose first job at MNA was compiling historic proof of Métis people living in southern Alberta.

National parks are also excluded from every zone.

People with existing harvesting cards will receive a new letter from the government of Alberta which will expand their existing hunting rights to any new zones they are eligible for.

However, people can apply through MNA to receive the harvester identification sticker.

“For the purposes of policy and this agreement, Alberta will recognize as Métis harvesters all MNA members whose MNA citizenship cards have a valid Métis identification sticker issued by the MNA,” says the agreement. “Each Métis harvester identification sticker will indicate the Métis harvesting are(s) in which the Métis harvester is eligible to harvest.”

There are currently around 1,400 registered Métis harvesters in Alberta. Letendre estimates that around 3,000 people will apply under the new process this year, including people with existing rights.

Métis harvesters need a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) card which is available at mywildalberta.ca. However, for Métis harvesters this will be automatically renewed.

Domestic fishing licenses must be applied for separate from the Métis harvester application, but will automatically renew each year. However, they do need to be printed each year.

Seasonal closures and fishing limits apply to Métis, First Nations and Inuit harvesters.

Harvesting rights are not transferable. Family members must each apply for their own harvesting rights.

To own and buy guns, every person in Canada including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people must have a Firearms licence called a PAL. The application is through the RCMP.

This new agreement is between MNA and the government of Alberta. Métis settlement citizens, who are not MNA citizens need to contact the Métis Settlement General Council or the government of Alberta.

Applications and more information is available at albertametis.com.

Applications need to be printed, signed and scanned.

MNA Region 5 office is ready and able to print off the applications, scan them and email them. Region 5 office is on Main St in Slave Lake or available at 780-849-4654.

Hilda Lambert, vice-president of MNA Region 5, and Craig Letendre, MNA harvesting coordinator, stand with maps of the new MNA and Alberta government Métis overlapping harvest areas.

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