MMF pleased by advancement of Red River Métis harvesting rights

June 9, 2023

Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, is pleased with the advancement of our harvesting rights with the Supreme Court of Canada's dismissal of the Government of Saskatchewan's application to appeal the decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ("SKCA") in R. v. Boyer; R. v. Poitras, 2022 SKCA 62 .

The MMF, led by President David Chartrand, had taken intervenor status in support of Warren Boyer and Oliver Poitras, who were seeking a declaration that their rights to fish and hunt for food as Indigenous people, as protected by s. 35 of the Constitution, would be honoured by the province of Saskatchewan.

"We have consistently heard from our Citizens across our Homeland that our harvesting rights must be honoured," said President Chartrand. "The Red River Métis have been a mobile people for sustenance and trade since our beginning. We harvested then and continue today to harvest across our Homeland."

"These two individuals trace their roots to Red River, and their right to harvest as their Ancestors did should not be in question," Chartrand went on to say. "The MMF does not recognize artificial and arbitrary provincial borders when it comes to the rights of our People. We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling. We look forward to continuing to support our Citizens and working with provincial governments as we take our next steps."

The SKCA held that the Crown's attempt to limit the ability of the Métis claimants to assert a claim that could include the entirety of the Red River Métis Homeland, the province, or large portions of it, had the effect of preventing the consideration of evidence and argument on whether "the migratory and nomadic nature of the Métis peoples would permit a harvesting claim over the whole of the province or a large segment of it, even as a defence to the particular charge of harvesting where the accused [persons] had been hunting and fishing".

The SKCA ruled that such a claim could not be resolved by narrowing it to the actual sites where harvesting had occurred, and "that the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley and related jurisprudence did not preclude Mr. Boyer and Mr. Poitras from attempting to prove an Aboriginal harvesting claim that would encompass a large tract of the province or indeed the whole of it as a basis for the defence to the charges against them."

The SKCA sent the matter back for a new trial. Saskatchewan attempted to appeal the SKCA decision. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case.

The MMF congratulates legal counsel Kathy Hodgson-Smith, K.C. and Clement Chartier, K.C. for their work defending these harvesters. MMF also thanks the Board of the Métis Legal Research and Education Foundation for their ongoing pro Bono support of Métis rights.

"We are pleased by the advancement this important case represents. We stand ready to continue to protect Red River Métis harvesting rights across our Homeland," said President Chartrand. "We are now taking the next steps to further support our Citizens beyond borders wherever they may live."


Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is the democratically elected National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, the origin and core of the historic Métis Nation. The Red River Métis are Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation


View More

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

^ * ( &

Métis Nation Database
Unite Interactive