Metis Harvesting Rights in Alberta

Continuing my search for information related to the environmental issues surfacing in Alberta, I have stumbled upon an interesting case regarding harvesting rights of the Metis.  Harvesting refers to the rights of the Metis, First Nations, and Inuit to collect foods by fishing, hunting, and farming.

Metis Nation of Alberta Harvesting Policy

Garry Hirsekorn was found guilty of two counts under the Alberta Wildlife Act and fined $700 after killing a mule deer in southern Alberta.  It is argued that his case was a planned action by the Metis to bring attention to the harvesting rights established (Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution) by the Alberta government.  The court proceedings started in April 2009, and the ruling was

Fish and Wildlife was aware of the planned hunt, but it is argued that the hunt was used for political purposes and not for traditional purposes.  Furthermore, it is argued that there is no historical Metis community in southern Alberta, therefore Hirsekorn is guilty of illegal hunting.

News Article for Hirsekorn’s Verdict

The decision has been appealed (in August 2012), but there are 25 other Metis charged with illegal hunting and are currently awaiting trial.

Hirsekorn’s Appeal

This case refers frequently to  the case of Steve and Roddy Powley, who killed a moose in October of 1993.  They identified the moose with a Metis card, specifying it was intended to be food for the winter.  Despite this identification, Ontario Conservation Officers charged the Powleys for hunting without a license and unlawful possession of a moose.  The judge ruled that the Powleys have a right to hunt, based upon Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982).  Charges were dismissed, but the Crown appealed.  In February of 2001, the Court of Appeal upheld the early decision, but the Crown appealed to the Supreme Court.  In September of 2003, the Supreme Court supported the initial verdict as well, and supports the Metis right to harvest year-round.

The Powley Test 



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