Natural Resources

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 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 Community's concerns and interests are brought forward to help conserve and manage the lands, waters, and resources of Manitoba. The MMF would like to thank Minister LaPlante and Associate Minister Shawn Nault for their unwavering dedication to this portfolio, and for their work to ensure that natural resources issues are handled with the attention they deserve. A few developments within the portfolio through 2020-2021 include the following:

Harvesting

Delegates to the 2018 MMF Annual General Assembly (AGA) voted unanimously in favour of a Resolution to defend Métis harvesting rights in Game Hunting Areas (GHAs) bordering the Recognized Métis Harvesting Area (RMHA), including: 1) the Grass River Region (GHAs 5, 7, and 7A); and, 2) the Manigotagan Region (GHA 26 and the portion of GHA 17A outside of the Pimitotah Traditional Land Use Planning Area/Bloodvein Registered Trapline). Despite the MMF's best efforts, the Manitoba government continues to ignore both Canada's Constitution protecting Métis harvesting rights as well as the provincial Crown's commitments in the 2012 MMF-Manitoba Harvesting Agreement. In September 2019, delegates to the MMF AGA voted unanimously for the MMF to consider providing legal support to Métis harvesters who exercise their constitutionally protected rights in the areas outside of the RMHA, including GHAs 2A, 4, 21, 21A, and the Upper and Lower Nelson River systems and Churchill Region.

The provincial government continues to charge Métis harvesters who exercise their constitutionally protected right to harvest. A Métis harvester must follow the laws of public safety, must adhere to Métis Laws of the Harvest: Revised 3rd Edition, and must hold a validated MMF Harvester Card with the current year's Conservation Trust Fund (CTF) sticker. Following these requirements, in the case of a wrongful harvesting charge, harvesters may contact the MMF's Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management Department. Once contacted, the MMF will gather harvesting charge information and will determine the necessary steps required to decide whether support and legal assistance can be provided. The MMF reminds all harvesters that they are taking a risk while harvesting in RMHA Expansion Areas [i.e., GHAs in which the 2018 MMF AGA voted unanimously to defend Métis harvesting rights (GHAs 5, 7, 7A, 17A, 26)] as well as areas outside of the RMHA.

Due to recurring issues with Métis harvesters hunting on private property with verbal permission only, a permission slip must now be used to obtain written permission from private landowners. The permission slip will reduce the chance of harvesters being faced with a situation if the landowner decides to revoke permission after the fact. Be aware that verbal permission is no longer acceptable and that it is the responsibility of the harvester to understand where they are harvesting. Written permission from private landowners supports the Métis rights to harvest on private property when approached by a Conservation Officer. Permission slips are available at the MMF Home Office, Regional Offices, and on the MMF website at www.mmf.mb.ca.

Métis harvesters must validate their Métis Harvester Card yearly by purchasing the current year's CTF sticker on or after April 1. In addition, harvesters are required to complete the mandatory MMF Harvesting Survey prior to receiving the new season's CTF sticker and big-game tags. The survey is important to help manage resources, monitor harvesting activity, and increase conservation efforts throughout the province. The MMF developed and launched an online version of the survey in March 2021 that will decrease human input error and improve the overall harvesting reporting system. The online survey is available for valid Métis harvesters on the MMF website at www.mmf.mb.ca.

Night Hunting

Following consultations with the Manitoba Métis Community regarding night hunting, the MMF submitted a report to the provincial government and passed two Resolutions at the 2017 AGA. First, a complete prohibition on dangerous spotlighting throughout Manitoba, and second, prohibition of night hunting within Agro Manitoba from dusk to dawn, with continued night hunting and stationary spotlighting in Non-Agro Manitoba when away from settlements and local populations. On February 9, 2018, the MMF Cabinet passed the MMF Night Hunting and Night Lighting Agro-Zone Boundary Resolution, providing policy specifying the Métis night hunting law in Manitoba, including definitions, maps, and map notes. All information regarding night hunting can be found on the MMF website at www.mmf.mb.ca.

Parks Canada

The MMF and Parks Canada have worked to expand Parks Canada's Indigenous Open-Door Program by providing free entry for Citizens of the Manitoba Métis Community into Parks Canada-administered national historic sites and national parks throughout the Manitoba Métis Nation, 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.

Caribou

The MMF has taken part in the National Boreal Caribou Knowledge Consortium (NBCKC) since its beginnings in 2018. The NBCKC brings together a number of participants with knowledge relating to and experience working with boreal caribou, including federal and provincial governments, academic institutions, industry, non-governmental organizations, and Indigenous governments and representatives. The NBCKC has developed working groups in which the MMF has been actively involved, including the Indigenous Knowledge Circle, the Monitoring Working Group, the Habitat Restoration Working Group, and the Chronic Wasting Disease Knowledge Network. 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 Community are included in caribou conservation work.

The MMF holds a yearly Caribou Workshop in northern Manitoba to collect valuable information from the Manitoba Métis Community 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. Moving forward, the MMF will continue working with the NBCKC to ensure that the Manitoba Métis Community is well represented and plans to continue work on Project Caribou as a step towards protecting caribou in 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 Community. The MMF, in response to conservation concerns highlighted by the Manitoba Métis Community, initiated a voluntary closure of moose harvesting in the above-noted GHAs as an exercise of stewardship and self-government rights. The Manitoba Métis Community has 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.

Moving forward, the Department will be researching the permitting required for the MMF to complete its own 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.

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 Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management Department is currently involved in the Crown consultation process in relation to the following several forestry Forestry Management plans:

  1. 5-Year Central Region Forestry Plan 

  1. Duck Mountain Provincial Park Forest Operating Plan

  1. Jack Pine Budworm Salvage Harvest

  1. Louisiana Pacific 20-Year Forest Management Plan

  1. Louisiana Pacific and Mountain Quota Holders Association 2020-2022 Operating Plan

  1. Nisokapawino Forestry Management Corporation 2021-2023 Operating Plan

As these Forestry Management 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 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.

 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 located in the The Pas and Northwest Regions within the Kettle Hills Blueberry Patch. The second IPCA is in the Thompson Region, from Caribou River Provincial Park to Wapusk National Park.

The purpose of the IPCAs is to conserve and protect Canada's wildlife and habitat along with ensuring 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 Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management 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 Energy, Infrastructure and Resource Management department created online surveys for Métis Citizens to remain engaged in the IPCA projects. In January 2021, an IPCA survey contest was released on the MMF website for Métis 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.  

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 and Lands 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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