Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"They'll have to pry that duck from my frozen, dead hands!" ..... Will Goodon

Metis Hunting Rights Focus Of Legal Wrangle
Constitutional Battle
Conviction For Hunting Without Licence Set Aside
By Sarah Matthews
National Post
January 31, 2007
Page A10

Two years ago Kipp Kelley, an Alberta Metis, left on an early November morning to teach his children how to hunt for food by setting snares for squirrel to use to catch bigger animals.

But the dozen squirrel carcasses and a marten landed Mr. Kelley at the centre of a constitutional battle fro Metis Nation hunting rights.

"I don't think he [Mr. Kelley] was expecting it to turn into this," said Metis Nation Association general counsel Jason Madden. "He's pretty well known in the community for being entrenched in the land and living off the land."

As Mr. Kelley, from Hinton, Alta., a town of 10,000 situated on the eastern edge of Jasper National Park, was walking back to his truck, he was met by wildlife officer Tony Brooks and charged with hunting without a licence.

Mr. Kelley claimed that under the Interim Metis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA), an agreement between Alberta and the Metis, he did not need one.

The 2004 IMHA recognizes the Metis Nation's right to harvest for subsistence through hunting, trapping, and fishing and applies to animals, fish and fowl.

However, Mr. Kelley was convicted in March, 2006, on the grounds that even though he is a Metis and eligible under the IMHA, he had not established a constitutional right to trap under the Supreme Court landmark 2003 Powley ruling, which affirms that the Metis Nation have the same rights as other Aboriginal people in Canada as defined in the 1982 Constitution Act.

Mr. Kelley appealed the decision claiming he had the right to hunt and teach his children to harvest. Alberta argued that Mr. Kelley's trapping was not for subsistence, that he was trapping on lands on which he was expressly denied permission, and therefore was trapping outside of the harvest agreement.

Last week, Justice Gerald Verville of Court of Queens Bench set aside Mr. Kelley's conviction, after finding that the trial judge erred.

While the IMHA was not legally enforceable because of a legal technicality, the province signed the agreement in an attempt to meet its obligations following the Powley ruling, and Metis would understandably believe they were covered by it, he said.

Metis leaders claim the court victory will have implications for other Metis from Ontario to British Columbia.

"This is a significant development," Mr. Madden said. "Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia need to recognize that they have an obligation to sit down with the Metis and accommodate Metis harvesting rights to fulfill the constitutional imperative that is on them, and Ontario needs to take a close look at what they are doing as well."

The Metis National Council estimates that between 350,000 and 400,000 Metis currently live in Canada.

Alberta Justice has not said whether or not it will appeal the decision.

Following the ruling, Audrey Poitras, president of the Metis Nation of Alberta, announced that she will be calling on Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's government to include the Metis Harvesting Agreement in its regulations, to make it legally enforceable.

Alberta Fish and Game Association (AFGA) says that if this happens, all invested parties should be involved and changes be made, in order to protect the province's fish and wildlife.

"It can't happen like it did last time, an agreement conducted behind closed doors," said Martin Sharren, executive vice president of the AFGA.

"There needs to be a licensing procedure that tracks what is taken, and regulations to make sure that fishing and hunting only happens in regulated seasons - if people go and hunt a doe while she's pregnant, you're not just killing one deer."

David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation and the vice president of the Metis National Council, says that his people have written laws about what to kill in which seasons, as well as detailed records of everything they take off the land - and that arguments like the IMHA will not affect the overall populations of different species in the provinces.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure would like to see that law that David refers to about when and what a Metis can hunt. I would like even more to see the records of what has been harvested by the Metis or even one Metis. If my dad or any of my relations that still hunt for a living herd or read those comments by David, they would laugh him right out of Canada. Does he think everyone is stupid? Surely he must be joking.
Just an Elder

9:40 PM  

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