Minister Leah LaPlante
Associate Minister Shawn Nault

The Manitoba Métis Federation's (MMF) Natural Resources portfolio, housed within the MMF's Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management (EIRM) department, is centered around the Métis Laws of the Harvest and the constitutionally protected section 35 rights. As the Minister Responsible for Natural Resources, Leah LaPlante is dedicated and passionate about protecting Métis harvesters, and has ensured that the Manitoba Métis' concerns and interests are brought forward to help conserve and manage the lands, waters, and resources of Manitoba.

Moose

In 2011, the provincial government implemented moose harvesting closures in the Duck Mountain and Porcupine Mountains (i.e., GHAs 13, 13A, 18, 18A, 18B, and 18C) without meaningful or adequate consultation with the Manitoba Métis. The MMF, in response to conservation concerns highlighted by the Manitoba Métis initiated a voluntary closure of moose harvesting in the above-noted GHAs as an exercise of stewardship and self-government rights. The Manitoba Métis have not been meaningfully consulted or engaged regarding moose management decisions, including ongoing conservation closures or any proposed changes since the closures were put in place.

In October 2020, using a conservation-minded approach, the MMF announced the reopening of GHAs 13 and 13A-Porcupine Mountains-and GHAs 18, 18A, 18B, and 18C-Duck Mountain-for the harvest of bull moose (i.e., no cows, calves, or yearlings) on a limited basis for Manitoba Métis harvesters through the Moose Conservation Harvesting Initiative. The Moose Conservation Harvesting Initiative consisted of Conservation Moose Tags, Captains of the Hunt, and Conservation Moose Harvesting Parties. A live draw took place with one Conservation Moose Tag being issued to each successfully drawn Captain of the Hunt on behalf of all Métis harvesters of their Conservation Moose Harvesting Party. Each Conservation Moose Tag was GHA-specific, with a total of 16 tags being issued for Duck Mountain and 10 tags for the Porcupine Mountains. The MMF announced the 2nd Annual Moose Conservation Harvesting Initiative in October of 2021 for the 2021-2022 big-game harvesting season.

The MMF will be researching the permitting required to complete moose surveys to obtain science-based evidence for future harvesting initiatives. A long-term goal of the Métis Government is to establish an Elders Harvesting Committee that can be consulted on resource management issues such as moose conservation.

Métis Laws of the Harvest
RMHA Map
Moose Harvesting RMHA Map
Permission Slip to Harvest on Private Property

Caribou

The MMF has taken part in the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium (NBCKC) since 2018. The NBCKC brings together participants with knowledge relating to and experience working with caribou, including federal and provincial governments, academic institutions, industry, non-governmental organizations, and Indigenous governments and representatives. The NBCKC provided the opportunity to learn about caribou conservation projects across the country, to explore partnerships, and ensure that the voice, concerns, and views of the Manitoba Métis are included in caribou conservation work.

The MMF holds a yearly Caribou Workshop in northern Manitoba to collect valuable information from the Manitoba Métis pertaining to caribou. The MMF has determined during these meetings that there is a concern for diminishing caribou populations across the province as well as a need for support for immediate conservation efforts to ensure species survival. In the winter of 2020, the MMF began work on Project Caribou-a caribou monitoring and research project using motion-activated monitoring cameras installed throughout critical caribou wintering habitat in northern Manitoba. The MMF is set to deploy additional cameras this winter, working to expand the monitoring that is currently in place.

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Forestry 

Forestry projects have a common theme of proposed timber harvesting, access development, access control, forest renewal activities, and road development and decommissioning - which directly affect Métis harvesting rights. 

The MMF's EIRM department is currently involved in the Crown consultation process in relation to the several Forestry Management plans, as these Plans may impact the rights, claims, and interests of the Manitoba Métis. Crown consultation must take place to ensure that impacts are minimized and opportunities for accommodation and mitigation are fully explored. 

The MMF is also pursuing Métis traditional economies such as sustainable forestry operations. Restoring traditional economies provides an opportunity to conserve natural ecosystems and supply Manitoba Métis Citizens and harvesters with on-the-land job opportunities. The MMF will continue to explore sustainable forestry opportunities to ensure the Métis Government participates in forest management.

Parks Canada

The MMF and Parks Canada have worked to expand Parks Canada's Indigenous Open-Door Program by providing free entry for Manitoba Métis Citizens into Parks Canada-administered national historic sites and national parks throughout Manitoba, including the Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, the Riel House National Historic Site, and Riding Mountain National Park. Manitoba Métis Citizens in possession of their MMF Citizenship Card and/or Métis Harvester Card are provided free entry. Parks Canada's Indigenous Open-Doors Program provides free entry; however, other fees for attractions and services, including tours, workshops, and special programing, or any other fees associated with the site do still apply and must be paid at the visitor centre.

In 2021, the MMF was engaged by Parks Canada to undertake a review of Parks Canada's Cultural Heritage Policy, as part of the Call to Action 79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. To accurately respond to Parks Canada, the MMF held engagement sessions with each of the seven MMF Regions, inviting Métis Citizens to provide input, discuss the policies, and identify concerns and impacts of the policies' initiatives on Métis rights. Following the engagement sessions, the MMF submitted an Engagement Report to Parks Canada summarizing the comments and concerns identified at the meetings.

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas 

In January 2020, the MMF finalized two multi-year Contribution Agreements with Environment & Climate Change Canada that provides the MMF with multi-year funding to work towards creating two Indigenous Protected & Conserved Areas (IPCAs). The first IPCA is situated in The Pas and Northwest Regions within the Kettle Hills Blueberry Patch. The second IPCA is in the Thompson Region, near Wapusk National Park.

The purpose of the IPCA initiative is to conserve and protect Canada's wildlife and habitat along with ensuring Manitoba Métis Citizens are engaged in conservation. The MMF has conducted a literature review and held interviews with other Indigenous Nations to identify avenues to formally protect the IPCAs. Specific to the Kettle Hills Blueberry Patch IPCA, the MMF conducted a Constraints and Opportunities Analysis to help further identify the small, medium, and large constraints in this area as well as identify opportunities for co-management. Additionally, the EIRM department presented on the IPCA initiative during The Pas' Regional Meeting and a Thompson Region IPCA Community Workshop, which provided an opportunity for Métis Citizens to ask questions, complete a survey, and comment on a Métis-specific IPCA governance model. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the EIRM department created online surveys for Manitoba Métis Citizens to remain engaged in the IPCA projects. In January 2021, an IPCA survey contest was released on the MMF website for citizens to voice opinions, perspectives, and enthusiasm in the creation of IPCAs. Through this survey, the MMF was able to gain Métis-specific insight regarding protected areas, governance, and management structures.

The IPCA survey results and community meeting feedback was used to identify IPCA priorities. The IPCA survey results identified several concerns regarding the lack of accessible blueberries and the abundance of litter in the Kettle Hills Blueberry Patch. To address this concern, the EIRM department, along with Métis youth and local knowledge holders, visited the Kettle Hills proposed IPCA to conduct trail maintenance, pick up litter surrounding the Kettle Hills campsite, and carry out vegetation plot surveys to analyze naturally occurring native plant life, flora competition, as well as compare blueberry regeneration in a recently burned area near Cowan, MB. It is our goal to create a long-term monitoring program in the Kettle Hills to assess the prevalence of the wild blueberry varieties.

In 2022, the EIRM department plans to hold an IPCA Cultural Values Mapping exercise to further understand ecological, cultural, and rights-based conservation perspectives. Additionally, plans for the year ahead include returning to both IPCAs for continued field data collection. Finally, the MMF is also collaborating with IISAAK OLAM to hold an IPCA and create webpages highlighting stories of the Kettle Hills IPCA and Thompson Region IPCA.  

For questions concerning the Natural Resources portfolio, you may contact Connor Staub, Resource Management Coordinator, by phone at (204) 586-8474 or by email at connor.staub@mmf.mb.ca.

And for questions concerning the Forestry and IPCA files within the Natural Resources portfolio, you may contact Riley Bartel, Conservation Coordinator, by phone at (204) 586-8474 or by email at riley.bartel@mmf.mb.ca.

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