Alberta Métis Table Petition on Harvesting in Legislature



    Call on Alberta Government to 'Tear Up' Ted Morton's Flawed Policy

    EDMONTON, Nov. 29 /CNW/ - Today Pearl Calahasen, the MLA for Lesser Slave
Lake, tabled a petition in the Alberta Legislature on behalf of the Métis
Nation of Alberta (MNA) in support of the Alberta Government respectfully
accommodating Métis harvesting rights.

    The petition, which was signed by approximately 2,400 Albertans, read:

    We, the Métis people of Alberta and friends of the Métis, urge the
    Government of Alberta to continue to accommodate Métis harvesting for
    food, throughout the province of Alberta, through a negotiated harvesting
    agreement with the Métis Nation of Alberta. This agreement should build
    upon the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement and allow for Métis
    harvesting to continue to take place where there is a Métis tradition of
    harvesting (excluding occupied Crown lands and private property where
    permission has not be obtained). ...

    "I hope the Alberta Legislature hears the voices of the Métis people and
our friends living throughout this province through this petition," MNA
President Audrey Poitras said. "The message is clear: Ted Morton's unlawful,
unilateral and regressive policy on Métis harvesting must be torn up to make
way for a new approach that is based on respect, reconciliation and the rule
of law. Mr. Morton's actions continue to tarnish the Alberta Government's
well-earned reputation of being a leader in Crown-Métis relations and
respecting Métis rights in this country."
    The Métis people have a long history of using petitions to assert their
rights and draw attention to injustices perpetuated against them across the
Métis Homeland.
    "Like our ancestors before us, the Métis Nation continues to use this
means of respectful protest in Canada when our rights are being ignored by
government. We only hope the Alberta Government will respectfully listen and
act, rather than continuing with Ted Morton's current approach," President
Poitras added.
    MNA Minister for Métis Rights, Cecil Bellrose explained that Métis rights
do not depend on Ted Morton's politics.
    "Since Mr. Morton has decided to ignore his Ministerial responsibilities
to protect Alberta's wildlife and act unilaterally, the Métis people have
ignored his policy and have continued to harvest this fall, just as we have
done for generations, Minister Bellrose said.
    The MNA wants to work with the Alberta Government to implement the Points
of Agreement reached between the MNA President and the Minister for
International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations in May of this year,
instead of ignoring Alberta's unconstitutional regulatory regime.
    "We call on members of the Alberta Legislature to support us in arriving
at a partnership on Métis harvesting, rather than Mr. Morton's strategy of
confrontation and litigation," added Minister Bellrose.
    "The MNA remains committed to working with the Alberta Government in
partnership on Métis harvesting," President Poitras concluded. "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 2 1/2 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 Sustainable Resources
Development 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.org.





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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