Minister: John Parenteau

Many challenges were realized in the year of 2021, with these challenges persisting into 2022. With the wisdom gained from the first year of the pandemic, we were able to adapt and succeed in some important areas of the Fisheries portfolio. The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) took steps toward protecting and advocating the rights and interests of Métis commercial fishers and the inland fishing industry to ensure its sustainability and profitability for future generations.

Minister of Fisheries, John Parenteau, made it his top priority to lead, work with, and keep the Manitoba Métis Community updated with developments within the industry. The Fisheries portfolio covers all aspects of fish and fish habitat, including:

  • Engaging Manitoba and Canada on projects affecting resources and the environment,
  • Protecting and advocating for Métis commercial fishers,
  • And building valuable skills in Métis Citizens towards fish and fish habitat protection and stewardship.

The MMF worked on several key projects impacting the inland fisheries, our fish, and fish habitat, including an aquatic invasive species initiative, commercial fishing, rearing ponds and fish hatchery, and new Artic region and northern low impact shipping corridors.

AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES INITIATIVE

In 2019, the MMF began working on an Aquatic Invasive Species ("AIS") initiative funded by the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk. The MMF hoped to use the AIS initiative to provide Watercraft Inspection Training: Level 1 certification to Métis Citizens to increase awareness and identify AIS to help reduce its spread. The project would also create an opportunity for Citizens to return to their community and create awareness regarding approved processes and mitigation measures for AIS. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the courses could not proceed. Instead, the MMF held virtual information sessions providing valuable knowledge on Aquatic Invasive Species and Species at Risk identification. The MMF provided 50 Citizens attending the virtual information sessions with AIS Toolkits to help them identify AIS species in the field. The MMF set up databases to keep records of the data Citizens find through their continued efforts to stop the spread of AIS throughout Manitoba.

COMMERCIAL FISHING

On May 8, 2019, the MMF, in coordination with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. ("MKO") and Southern Chiefs Organization ("SCO"), held a Commercial Fishers Emergency Meeting. The meeting consisted of presentations and breakout group discussions dealing with the inland commercial fishing industry. Attendees shared their pressing concerns, including those regarding the Lake Winnipeg quota buy-back option and the new change to fishing mesh size regulations. There is general unease about the industry's future and, therefore, a desire to work together to ensure industry sustainability. The MMF plans to hold a validation meeting in response to the 2019 emergency meeting in fall 2021 once COVID-19 public health restrictions allow it.

In January 2021, the MMF launched the MMF Commercial Fisher Net Program. This program allowed for active Métis commercial fishers to apply to receive ten commercial-grade fishing nets free of charge. The program has helped over 100 commercial fishers and will enable them to fish the 2021-2022 winter season with some extra resources.

Last year, the MMF launched the Fish Distribution Initiative, where the MMF provided pickerel and whitefish to those Métis Citizens and their families who signed up. The MMF distributed thousands of pounds of fish across Manitoba to help hundreds of Citizens support their families.

REARING PONDS AND FISH HATCHERY

The Manitoba Métis Community has raised interest in investing in rearing ponds and fish hatcheries. Rearing ponds the MMF established near St. Laurent were damaged by flooding. Due to a lack of funding, the MMF has yet to restore these ponds. However, the MMF is currently researching opportunities to restore and re-establish these rearing ponds. The rearing ponds project will help fish stocks in Manitoba lakes and provide training and employment opportunities for Métis Citizens.

Clear Your Gear Partnership

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is excited to announce its partnership with Clear Your Gear Inc., a community-based initiative that provides fishing line recycling receptacles to retailers, community groups, marinas, lodges and camps. The receptacles will be deployed throughout the Métis Nation to act as disposal units for discarded and broken fishing line.

"Our Elders have told us that we need to help nature, as it provides for us," said David Chartrand, President of the MMF. "We have always emphasized the importance of collaboration in protecting and preserving our environment, and an initiative like this is a great example of the kinds of partnerships that can make a difference."

The MMF is the first-ever Indigenous partner and sponsor of Clear Your Gear, donating $10,000 to the preservation of wildlife and ecosystems through this important initiative. Clear Your Gear has manufactured and delivered over 300 recycling receptacles to community groups and retailers across 9 provinces since 2020. With this donation, the MMF is the first sponsor to participate in two builds in one year, totaling 600 units and doubling the builds over the past year.

"We are beyond thrilled to be partnering with the Manitoba Métis Federation. Their support will help keep wildlife and waterways tangle-free throughout the Métis Homeland to the benefit of all Manitobans," said Judy Robertson, President of Clear Your Gear Inc.

"This is our first government sponsorship to help build our national fishing line recycling infrastructure and we hope others will follow their example as stewards of the land."

The Manitoba Métis community has always been very connected to water, for drinking, commercial and recreational fishing, and using rivers for transportation. Each year there is over 10,000 pounds of improperly disposed fishing line in North America, which can last in the environment for up to 600 years and is the leading cause of entanglement issues for people, property, and wildlife. The protection of waterways through proper fishing line disposal also ensures that the commercial fishing industry - the livelihood of many Red River Métis fishers - remains uncompromised and profitable.

NEW ARCTIC REGION

In 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the development of a new Arctic Region. This new Arctic Region will be a stand-alone region, managed independently and encompassing approximately 50 per cent of Canada's coastline. The intention is to improve program and service delivery in the north and ensure Indigenous Communities are directly involved in decisions impacting their resources and environment.

Additionally, the Northern Low Impact Shipping Corridors initiative, established by Canada's Ocean's Protection Plan, was created due to the increased use of northern seas for shipping due to climate change and seasonal ice changes. As the Arctic shipping season remains open for longer on average, and new ocean shipping corridors are opening due to global climate change, new opportunities and risks are arising for the Red River Métis on the Hudson Bay coast.

The MMF held a Thompson Region consultation meeting on February 29, 2020 to discuss the new Arctic Region and Northern Low Impact Shipping Corridors initiative. Following this meeting, the MMF submitted a high-level report to Canada summarizing the thoughts, comments, recommendations, and concerns heard from Red River Métis Citizens.

Through the new Arctic Region and Northern Low Impact Shipping Corridors initiative, the MMF was able to build capacity within our Métis Government. Red River Métis can expect another round of engagement sessions in the 2021-2022 fiscal year to further discuss the following:

  • Historical and contemporary resource use within the new Arctic Region
  • Cultural, heritage, conservation, and ecological resource concerns
  • Positive and negative impacts associated with Coast Guard's activities

TRANSPORT CANADA BOATING SAFETY PROGRAM

In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the MMF secured capacity and program funding through Transport Canada's Boating Safety Contribution Program. This program will fund an MMF Small Vessel Operator Safety initiative in the new Arctic Region, specifically around Churchill, MB. The initiative aims to identify Red River Métis citizens who operate boats in the area that may interact with larger vessels and raise awareness of boating safety as well as communicate safe navigation practices. If you, or if you know any Red River Métis citizens that operate boats in this project area, please contact our Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management Department at the MMF Home Office.

For questions concerning the Fisheries portfolio, you may contact Jenny Petrynko, Fish and Fish Habitat Coordinator, by phone at (204) 586-8474 or by email at jenny.petrynko@mmf.mb.ca.

And for questions concerning the new Arctic Region and Boating Safety files within the Fisheries portfolio, you may contact Riley Bartel, Conservation Coordinator, by phone at (204) 586-8474 or by email at riley.bartel@mmf.mb.ca.

B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

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MMF Annual General Assembly 2022
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