Winnipeg, MB in the homeland of the Métis Nation –The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is pleased to announce that on January 15th the sustainable 2020-21 Moose Conservation Harvesting Initiativein Porcupine and Duck Mountains came to a safe and successful completion as did other Métis big game hunting across the province.
“Despite the scare tactics used by the Government of Manitoba in an attempt to frighten or discourage Métis Harvesters, our people’s response to our sustainable moose hunting initiative has been very positive,” explained MMF President David Chartrand. “Following our Métis Laws of the Harvest our registered Harvesting Parties, led by Captains of the Hunt, went out into the bush to hunt moose and other wildlife.”
“Because of harassment by overly zealous conservation officers, our parents were forced to hunt after dark, cutting up the meat in a panic, and hiding our food,” said MMF VP Leah LaPlante , who is the Minister responsible for the harvesting portfolio. “They were just trying to feed their families. I remember their struggles and the emotions we felt as children. Everyone was anxious. After so many years, we continue to face the denial of our rights and traditions. I am proud that today our Harvesters can hunt without fear, during the day, and out in the open, knowing their Métis Government is there to support them.”
“Our Métis Harvesters continued to practice our right to feed our families in our traditional ways in the Porcupine (GHAs 13 and 13A) and Duck Mountains (GHAs 18, 18A, 18B, and 18C).” said President Chartrand. “None of our moose hunters were charged with offenses. We will continue to follow-up and have discussions with Harvesters and Elders to develop this conservation-minded initiative further for next year’s harvest.”
In 2012, the Government of Manitoba closed a number of Game Hunting Areas (GHAs) for moose hunting due to low populations. At the time, the MMF, upon review of the scientific data and consultation with Elders, received direction from our Community to close the GHAs in the Porcupine and Duck Mountains.
This past fall, based on the Manitoba Government’s moose survey evidence and input from our Harvesters and Elders, the MMF determined it was safe to reopen the GHAs for a limited sustainable conservation moose harvest. The provincial government’s documents demonstrated that 60 bull moose could be harvested. The MMF issued 24 special Conservation Moose Tags to randomly drawn Métis Harvesting Parties.
“For centuries our Harvesters have fed our families while reflecting our ancestral values to respect the animal and be grateful for the food it provides to our loved ones,” stated President Chartrand. “Since childhood we have been taught that with rights come responsibilities to provide for our community’s needs and to ensure there is enough wildlife for our future generations.
“I’d like to extend special thanks to the Harvesting Parties and the Captains who ensured the harvest was done in accordance with our principles and our laws,” added President Chartrand. “They also made sure our Elders and vulnerable Community members received meat from the harvest and didn’t have to worry so much about food during this pandemic. It’s our spirit of sharing and our commitment to community that makes the Manitoba Métis who we are.”
Going forward, the MMF has committed to undertake scientific surveys of the moose population not only in the Porcupine and Duck Mountains but also in other regions of the Province. “Traditional knowledge and the experience of our hunters will supplement the surveys,” added President Chartrand. “We want to ensure the numbers provided to us by the province are verifiable and tell the full story of what is happening to our big game populations.”
One area of focus for the surveyors in the immediate future is making sure the moose population remains stable and doesn’t experience excessive loss from predators, including wolves and wood ticks. “Our Harvesting Parties reported an unusually high number of wood ticks on the animals they observed,” said President Chartrand. “Moose frequently rub their skin against trees to relieve the itching and discomfort to the point of baldness. In the early spring, all it takes is one cold snap and that moose could die.
“We have always emphasized partnerships with stakeholders and other Indigenous rights-holders,” explained President Chartrand. “Already we have started talks with the Southern Chiefs Organization to establish a collaborative Indigenous-led wildlife authority with the shared goals of sustainably managing and investing in our wildlife’s future and protecting our collective rights.”
The Métis people have been harvesting big games in coordinated parties for the benefit of the community since the early 1800s. Harvesting parties are designated, captains are selected and the resulting harvest is shared with the community – particularly with its most vulnerable. The coordinated and shared harvest is one of the pillars of Métis culture that continues today.
“We continue our ancestral practices today of organizing our hunt, following our law, and sharing our bounty,” concluded President Chartrand. “Our successful Moose Conservation Harvesting Initiativeis a major victory in our campaign to ensure constitutional law is respected. There is still much work to do. We will continue to protect our collective rights and to steward our moose populations for a sustainable future.”
Previous media releases:
Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the democratic self-governing political representative for the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community. The Manitoba Métis Community is Canada’s Partner in Confederation and the Founder of the Province of Manitoba.
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