Alberta Métis Begin Holding Traditional Hunts Throughout Alberta



    EDMONTON, Oct. 17 /CNW/ - Today, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA)
announced the start of traditional Métis hunts being held throughout Alberta.
    The hunts are being organized by appointed Captains of the Hunt with the
support of Métis harvesters throughout the province. These hunts are a part of
the MNA's Métis Harvesting Action Plan that was unanimously adopted by the MNA
Annual General Assembly held in August 2007.
    "As our people have for generations, we will continue to practice our
culture and traditions throughout the province by providing food for our
families and Elders this fall," MNA President Audrey Poitras said. "I want to
thank the Captains of the Hunt and our harvesters for working with the MNA's
leadership in organizing these traditional hunts. Based on the MNA's
Harvesting Policy and the direction from the MNA Assembly, the MNA will stand
behind and support our harvesters as they exercise their constitutional
rights, regardless of the unilateral and legally unenforceable policy adopted
by Ted Morton, the current Minister for Sustainable Resource Development
(SRD)."
    The first Métis traditional harvests are set for this weekend; one will
take place west of Hinton and another in the Cypres Hills area. The hunts will
bring together Métis from throughout the province and will include traditional
Métis foods, music and dancing. MNA members are encouraged to contact the MNA
for additional information and to come out and visit the hunting camps to show
their support.
    "We are extremely excited to host the first of these traditional Métis
hunts," Ron Jones, one of the Captains of the Hunt said. "The Métis people
have a long history of working together to provide for our families and the
Métis Nation as a whole. This upcoming hunt is a part of that long tradition.
It also provides our people an opportunity to share in our unique culture and
pass our traditions on to the next generation."
    MNA Minister for Métis Rights, Cecil Bellrose, said, "Ted Morton is going
to have to realize that he cannot abolish Métis rights on a whim. The Métis
people have been in this province, exercising our rights, long before Ted
Morton ever stepped foot in Alberta. We will be here, exercising our rights,
long after he is the Minister of SRD. It is unfortunate that he has
politicized this issue, rather than truly caring about the future of Alberta's
natural resources by ensuring Métis rights are accommodated within Alberta's
regulatory regime."
    "The MNA also wants to acknowledge the extremely difficult position
Minister Morton's policy puts SRD Wildlife Officers in. Over the last two and
a half years, while the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) was in
place, many of our harvesters established effective on-the-ground working
relationships with SRD. Our harvesters remain committed to continuing to show
respect to SRD Wildlife Officers in the field, regardless of their Minister's
ill-conceived policy." Bellrose added.
    Poitras concluded, "The MNA remains committed to working with the Alberta
Government in partnership on Métis harvesting. The MNA has written to the
Alberta Government outlining how good faith negotiations can resume on Métis
harvesting. Until then, the MNA will continue to stand united on Métis rights
by implementing our Action Plan and defending Métis harvesters against Ted
Morton's unilateral and regressive Métis harvesting policy."

    Background on Métis Harvesting in Alberta

    In September 2004, the MNA and the Alberta Government entered into an
Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) to accommodate Métis harvesting
rights throughout Alberta based on the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in
the Powley case. The IMHA worked effectively for over two and a half years.
    In August 2006, the MNA and the Alberta Government engaged in renewed
discussions for a longer-term agreement. Based on these negotiations, the MNA
President and the Minister for International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal
Relations reached Points of Agreement for a new arrangement in May 2007.
Unfortunately, Ted Morton, the current Minister for SRD refused to work with
the MNA to implement these Points of Agreement and cancelled the IMHA. Morton
then adopted a unilateral and regressive policy on Métis harvesting in July
2007. This policy excludes Métis living in central and southern Alberta,
ignores the Alberta Government's own research on Métis claims and draw
arbitrary lines that limit traditional Métis harvesting practices.
    In August 2007, the MNA Assembly unanimously rejected Ted Morton's
policy. Since with the cancellation of the IMHA, Alberta laws do not
accommodate Métis harvesting, the Assembly adopted its MNA Harvesting Policy
and Métis harvesters will continue to exercise their constitutional rights
pursuant to the MNA Policy, regardless of Ted Morton's policy. The MNA will
support Métis harvesters who are following the MNA Harvesting Policy and
charged by SRD. As well, the MNA Assembly adopted an Action Plan on Métis
Harvesting that focuses on four areas: exercising Métis rights, defending
Métis rights, political action on Métis rights and public education on Métis
rights. For copies of these documents or more information visit
www.albertametis.com





For further information:

For further information: Monique Devlin, MNA Communications, Ph: (780)
455-2200

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METIS NATION OF ALBERTA ASSOCIATION

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