Métis National Council offers support to Métis Nation of Alberta on Métis Harvesting

Alberta Government's Recent Actions Tarnish Its Respected Leadership Role on Métis Relations

Ottawa, ON (July 3, 2007) --- President of the Métis National Council (MNC) Clément Chartier offered today his support to the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and its leadership in their response to the Alberta’s Government termination of the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) and failure to put into place a new mutually agreeable accommodation with the MNA.

Since 2004, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Powley, Métis harvesting in Alberta has been effectively accommodated through the IMHA (an agreement mutually agreed to by the Alberta Government and the MNA). On July 1st, the Alberta Government terminated the IMHA and will now be putting in place a regressive and unilateral approach on Métis harvesting. This approach will result in rights-bearing Métis harvesters, who are attempting to feed their families, being charged by the Alberta Government.

“I offer my full support to the MNA leadership’s refusal to let Ted Morton, the current Alberta Minister for Sustainable Resources Development, ride roughshod over Métis rights in Alberta. Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of commending the Alberta Government, at national meetings, for its leadership on working with the Métis Nation and recognizing the constitutional rights of the Métis people. These recent developments are very discouraging and cast a cloud on Alberta’s long history of being a leader in Métis relations in this country. It is unfortunate that one man can undermine years of leadership on the part of the Alberta Government,” said President Chartier.

“In 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the Métis people have harvesting rights,” Chartier added. “Four years later, we should not still be having to go to court, at great expense to Métis and all Canadian taxpayers, to establish our rights hectare by hectare throughout our Homeland. Governments from Ontario westward should be respecting Canada’s Constitution and their constitutional obligations by arriving at mutually agreeable accommodations with us, instead of putting into place unilateral policies, delaying the inevitable and creating more distrust between governments and our people.”

Irrespective of government positions, the Métis Nation continues to realize court victories throughout its Homeland in the courts. Upcoming cases on Métis harvesting rights are expected in Saskatchewan (R. v. Belhumeur) and Manitoba (R. v. Goodon) in the next few months. Currently, the Métis Nation of Ontario is the only MNC Governing Member that has a negotiated accommodation agreement on Métis harvesting in place.

“Governments must come to grips with the reality that Métis rights are not going anywhere. As we have done for generations, we will fight and stand united for our rights wherever we need to. The MNC supports the MNA and all Métis government from Ontario westward in standing up for Métis rights. It is time for governments to show some honour and do what they are constitutionally mandated to do: negotiate with Métis in order to recognize and affirm our rights,” concluded Chartier.

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international level. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the three Prairie provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. There are approximately 350,000 – 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada.

For more information:
Zoran Vidic
Senior Communications Officer
(613) 295-9298
(613) 232-3216 ext. 124
email: zoranv@metisnation.ca