'Métis Will Continue To Harvest As We Have For Generations'
EDMONTON, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - Over the weekend, Métis from across the
province unanimously rejected the Métis harvesting policy put into place by
Ted Morton, the current Alberta Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.
The decision was made at the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) Annual General
Assembly held in St. Paul, Alberta, where delegates also unanimously made the
historic decision to adopt a harvesting policy to govern the Métis harvest in
"Our people have spoken. We reject Mr. Morton's heavy-handed and
unilateral approach that attempts to abolish Métis rights in this province,"
Audrey Poitras, President of the MNA said. "Our people will continue to
harvest for food, as we have for generations, regardless of Ted Morton's
ill-conceived and unconstitutional policy. We will defend our harvesters based
on our laws; since the Alberta Government's current harvesting laws fail to
accommodate our rights."
On July 1st, Ted Morton implemented his own unilateral policy that
completely excludes Métis living in southern Alberta, arbitrarily limits
traditional Métis harvesting practice and creates a regime where his Ministry
will decide who is Métis and where they will have the right to harvest.
A proposed Action Plan on Métis Harvesting was brought to the MNA
Assembly for direction from Métis citizens. The MNA Assembly unanimously
adopted the Action Plan which focuses on four areas: (1) exercising Métis
rights, (2) defending Métis rights, (3) political action on Métis rights, and
(4) public education on Métis rights.
"We now have a solid and strong mandate to challenge Ted Morton's
regressive policy and to defend our harvesters who are following our
Métis-made harvesting laws," Cecil Bellrose, the MNA Minister of Rights and
Citizenship said. "Also, since Ted Morton made cancelling the IMHA an issue
for his failed leadership bid, Alberta Métis will make his faulty policy an
issue for the next provincial election. It is unacceptable that one man can
attempt to abolish and ignore the constitutional rights of an Aboriginal
people who have helped build this great province."
Métis harvesters are being cautioned that they may be charged by the
Alberta Government for harvesting, however, the MNA will provide legal support
to harvesters meeting the requirements and following the terms of the MNA
"The MNA remains committed to working with the Alberta Government in
order to put into place a mutually agreeable accommodation on Métis
harvesting," President Poitras concluded. "The MNA arrived at Points of
Agreement for a Longer Term Métis Harvesting Agreement with the Minister of
International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations in May of this year,
however, those Points of Agreement were rejected by Minister Morton and he put
into place his own unilateral policy that bears no resemblance to those Points
of Agreement or our negotiations with Alberta over the last 10 months. We are
more than willing to come back to the negotiation table to implement those
Points of Agreement."
In September 2003, in the Powley case, the Supreme Court of Canada
affirmed that Métis have constitutionally protected harvesting rights.
Following that decision, the Alberta Government and the MNA negotiated and
entered into the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA) to accommodate
Métis harvesting. The IMHA effectively accommodated Métis harvesting in
Alberta for over 2 1/2 years until the Alberta Government cancelled the IMHA,
fulfilling Ted Morton's failed leadership bid promise to the Alberta Fish and
Métis harvesters are being instructed to obtain a copy of the MNA
Harvesting Policy through their MNA regional office or on the MNA's website at
www.albertametis.com. Additional information materials on the MNA's Harvesting
Policy and Action Plan will be available to Métis citizens over the next few
For further information:
For further information: Monique Devlin, Cell: (780) 453-0283, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Métis Nation of Alberta