On the morning of October 22, 1993
A harvest message from MNO President Margaret Froh
On the morning of October 22, 1993, Steve Powley and his son, Roddy, set out hunting. They headed north from home in Sault Ste. Marie, and at about 9 a.m., they shot and killed a bull moose near Old Goulais Bay Road. Later that day while they were processing the moose, Conservation Officers appeared and the Powleys were charged under Ontario’s Game & Fish Act.
The Métis Nation of Ontario decided to use the charges against the Powley’s as a test case, and provided full political and financial support throughout, from trial all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
On September 19, 2003, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found that modern day Métis communities may possess Aboriginal rights protected by s.35 of the Constitution Act —and went on to conclude that “the Métis community in and around SSM have an Aboriginal right to hunt for food under s.35(1)”
This was our ‘Hunt for Justice’ — and with that decisive victory, all Métis in Ontario and westward, across the Metis Nation Homeland, benefited.
Powley has since been relied upon to argue and negotiate Métis harvesting rights across the prairies, and has been foundational in all Métis governments negotiations around harvesting, the duty to consult and accommodate and our inherent rights of self-determination and self-government.
In Ontario, many Métis continue to harvest—like the Powleys—to put food on the table for their families and to pass on Metis traditional knowledge and culture, and maintain our Metis way of life.
Many of the MNO’s Métis communities continue to organize and host community harvests, and gather throughout the fall to host gatherings to celebrate the Métis fall harvest.
Within the MNO, our citizens in Assembly have established MNO’s Harvesting Policy – our Métis law that governs the Métis harvest. This law is based on our values and principles, and at its core is the principle of conservation and respect for all species, so that we can protect and ensure our Métis way of life for futures generations.
And we have a Captains of the Hunt system that helps oversee the Métis Harvest. Our Captains work tirelessly throughout this fall harvest in particular, to support Métis harvesters—to answer their questions, and to advocate for and support them should issues arise.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our COTH and our COTH Liaisons for all their hard work! Maarsii!
As Métis head out to harvest this fall, lets take a moment to thank the Powleys and all those across the MNO that worked so hard to secure recognition of our Metis rights!
To our Métis Harvesters, and to our Community Councils hosting community harvests and harvest gatherings – God speed! We wish you all a safe and bountiful harvest—one that will feed our families and communities, both physically but also spiritually, well into the coming months.
Be safe out there.