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The recognition of Métis harvesting rights flows from the historic fact that long before Canada became Canada and Ontario became Ontario, our Métis ancestors emerged with their own collective identity, language, culture, and way of life along the waterways and lakes of what is now known as Ontario.

The Métis people were born from these lands. This is what makes us an Indigenous peoples. Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 simply reaffirms our existence as a distinct Indigenous peoples. It also constitutionally protected our inherent rights, including our col­lectively-held rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather for food.

Based on the hard work and determination of Ontario Métis, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized these harvesting rights in R. v. Powley. Consistent with Métis customs, we have developed our own system of laws to protect the lands, waters and the animals we rely on for our continued existence—the MNO Harvesters Policy. The MNO Harvesters Policy has been in place since 1995 and the most recent version was introduced in 2011.

The MNO Harvesting Policy is based on Métis jurisdiction, customs and traditions- -how should it evolve to deal with issues such as co-management, enforcement or the mobility of Métis rights between our communities?

What should the priorities be for our future harvesting negotiations with Ontario?

• How does our Harvesting Policy need to evolve? What are the key issues that need to be addressed?

• How could we develop a revised harvesting map that is consistent with common understandings and what has been learned over the years? What type of process should be followed?

• Should our Harvesting Policy allow for Harvester Card holders from different regions to harvest in other regions? How should these types of mobility issues be addressed? Who gets to decide?

• How do we deal with enforcement issues when a Métis harvester violates our laws in relation to conservation, safety, wastage, etc.?

• How do you see Métis being involved in co-management initiatives with other governments or First Nations?

• Should our Harvesting Policy allow for Métis rights-holders who do not live in Ontario to obtain a Harvesters Card?

• How can we assist MNO citizens in completing the process to obtain a Harvesters Card? What works best? What about people who want to be verified as a Métis rights-holder, but may not harvest?

Posted: March 1, 2017.