Métis Hunt for Justice will continue in 2011

Medicine Hat, AB (December 21, 2010) – Alberta Métis have filed an appeal in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench against a decision from the Alberta Provincial Court rendered earlier this month, which convicted Métis harvester Garry Hirsekorn for hunting for food without a license near the Cypress Hills in southern Alberta.

“Our ancestors were here before Canada was Canada and Alberta was Alberta. Our people cannot accept the trial judge’s conclusion that every other Aboriginal people on the Prairies have constitutionally protected harvesting rights, but the Métis. We do not believe this result honours the promise of s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to our people. That is why we are appealing the lower court’s decision,” said Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras.

The appeal was filed in Medicine Hat court by Métis lawyers – Jean Teillet and Jason Madden – on behalf of convicted Métis harvester Garry Hirsekorn. The appeal claims that the trial judge “erred in law and made errors of mixed fact and law, in his interpretation and application of the test for Métis harvesting rights set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207 (the “Powley test”) to the Appellant’s [Mr. Hirsekorn] claim of being a member of a Métis community that holds an Aboriginal right to harvest for food.

Mr. Hirsekorn’s lawyer Jason Madden said, “We always knew this case raised unique legal issues that would likely require appeal courts to consider how the Powley test should be applied in a purposive when considering the mobility of the Métis people on the southern Prairies. This appeal will provide Alberta Métis as well as the entire Métis Nation an opportunity to have higher courts consider these important legal questions.”

The trial for R. v. Hirsekorn began in May 2009. It included 42 days of trial with over 35 community and expert witnesses from across Alberta and the Métis Nation. It represents the largest Métis harvesting rights trial ever completed in Canada.

For information or interviews contact the Métis Nation of Alberta at:
Tel: 780-455-2200