Ten Years After Landmark Powley - Decision Alberta Métis Still "Hunt for
EDMONTON, July 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Alberta Court of Appeal
refused to overturn the conviction of Métis harvester Garry Hirsekorn
for hunting in the Cypress Hills in 2007. The case―R. v. Hirsekorn―is a
harvesting rights "test case" for Alberta Métis as a part of the Métis
Nation of Alberta's ("MNA") ongoing "hunt for justice" in the courts.
A copy of the decision is available at www.albertametis.com or www.albertacourts.ab.ca.
MNA President Audrey Poitras stated, "While we are disappointed with
today's decision, we are not deterred. Similar to the Manitoba Métis
Federation land claim case, which suffered multiple losses in the
Manitoba courts but was ultimately successful before the Supreme Court
of Canada, we believe we will ultimately have our constitutional rights
recognized and affirmed."
"Our people are committed to seeing this case through to the end, so we
have now instructed our lawyers to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to
hear this case that is important to the entire Métis Nation. It's also
timely that on the ten year anniversary of the Supreme Court of
Canada's release of the landmark Powley decision, the Métis Nation will be back before the highest court of the
land asking for the promise of s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to be given meaning for Métis on the Prairies," said President Poitras.
MNA Legal Counsel Jason Madden said, "We don't believe this Alberta
decision can be reconciled with how the Powley case has been applied in other jurisdictions such as Manitoba and
Saskatchewan. We believe the Supreme Court of Canada needs to address
the perverse way in which the Alberta courts have essentially used the Powley test against the Métis on the Prairies."
Madden added, "The Court of Appeal's decision that the most well-known
face of the Métis Nation―the Métis buffalo hunters of the Plains―don't
have harvesting rights on those Plains undermines the promise of s. 35
of the Constitution Act, 1982 to the Métis. We believe this is case of significant importance in the
development of Métis jurisprudence."
Backgrounder on Hirsekorn Case
R. v. Hirsekorn is the result of the Alberta Government's cancellation of the Interim
Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) in July 2007.
In September 2004, the previous Klein Government executed the IMHA with
the Métis Nation of Alberta in order to implement the Supreme Court of
Canada's decision in R. v. Powley in Alberta. The IMHA remained in place for over 2 ½ years until Ted
Morton, then Minister for Sustainable Resource Development, cancelled
the IMHA and implemented a unilateral and regressive policy that denies
Métis harvesting rights in much of central Alberta and all of southern
In August 2007, Alberta Métis rejected Ted Morton's policy and
unanimously passed their own Métis harvesting rights action plan and
harvesting policy. Métis community hunts were organized and held
across Alberta in the Fall of 2007. The current trial involves a Métis
harvester who participated in those community hunts (Garry Hirsekorn)
in southeastern Alberta.
This trial in southeastern Alberta is to act as a "test case" for the
entire province, since there are over 25 other Métis harvesters charged
across the province and Métis continue to reject Alberta's current
harvesting policy. The issues raised in the appeal will also determine
whether Alberta's current policy and interpretation of the Powley case is correct.
In this test case, Mr. Hirsekorn is arguing that there is a historic
rights-bearing Métis community called the Métis of the Northwest and
that he is a member of a modern day Métis community that spans southern
and central Alberta and extends into northern Alberta and other parts
of the modern day Métis Nation, which is the continuation of the Métis
of the Northwest. Mr. Hirsekorn asserts this contemporary Métis
community possesses food harvesting rights that are protected by s. 35
of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Additional information about the case is available at www.albertametis.com.
SOURCE: Métis Nation of Alberta
For further information:
or interviews contact Norma Spicer at 780-453-0281