Métis hunting rights focus of meeting

Local Métis will gather for a meeting about a new provincial moose hunting regime Tuesday night at the Royal Canadian Legion here.
Dubbed a “Hunting Rights Rendezvous,” the meeting will feature an hour of food, music, and fellowship at 6 p.m., followed by a discussion of aboriginal hunting rights.
Experts will make presentations on a series of topics, including an overview of the Powley case and its implications for Métis hunting rights in Ontario.
“This meeting is very important. It’s represents a part of our negotiations with the [Ontario] government,” John Secord, a hunting and fishing advisor with the Ontario Métis Aboriginal Association, said yesterday from Sault Ste. Marie.
Attendees will be encouraged to complete a survey on their hunting habits and to make suggestions on a new hunting regime.
“It’s a grassroots’ survey involving the Métis people. We want them to have their input,” noted Secord.
Tonight’s meeting is part of a 10-day province-wide series of meetings, including one Monday night in Rainy River. Other sites include Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Dryden, Timmins, and North Bay.
More consultations will take place in southern Ontario in the coming weeks.
“We had a really good turnout [for the first stop in Sudbury]. We had about 65 percent of the surveys returned,” Secord remarked.
The Ontario Court of Appeal acceded to the request of Her Majesty the Queen to a stay of their judgment in the case between the Crown and Steve Powley and Charles Powley for a one-year period.
The purpose of the stay was “to allow the appellant to consult with stakeholders and develop a new moose hunting regime that is consistent with the Constitution Act, 1982, s. 35.”
The OMAA has been involved in the Powley case from the beginning. Currently, it is active in representing Métis hunters who are charged in Ontario courts.
There are more than 100 cases before the courts in Ontario, most of them similar to the Powley situation, the OMAA stated in a press release.
Secord said people’s responses were crucial as a sign of support in Métis-government negotiations.
“This is the first line of right negotiations. We still have others, like timber negotiations and taxes, coming down the line,” he noted.
More information on the OMAA’s hunting policy can be found at www.omaa.org/hunt
In related news, the Métis Nation of Ontario is holding a public forum on the hunting issue next Wednesday (Sept. 19) at 7 p.m. at the Elks Hall here.
Chairman Gary Lipinski noted the OMAA is not to be confused with the MNO–the only recognized Métis group in the province.