Sagkeeng Warns MMF stay in it’s lane when it comes to moose hunting in GHA 26
By Don Norman
On September 29, the MMF released a statement saying they would be reopening Game Hunting Area (GHA) 26 to Metis moose harvesters this year.
GHA 26 was one of a several areas that the MMF said they would hold a “tag” lottery for. The others were in the Duck and Porcupine Mountain areas. A tag was to awarded to a minimum of four people and it allows them one bull moose.
On October 5, Sagkeeng First Nation released their own strongly worded release that says the First Nation maintains jurisdiction over GHA 26.
The release noted that the Chief and Council of the Sagkeeng First Nation were “disappointed and surprised” by the MMF release. “GHA 26 is within the traditional resource area territory of Sagkeeng First Nation and the membership of the Sagkeeng First Nation have been exercising their aboriginal and treaty rights in their traditional resource area since time immemorial,” read the Sagkeeng release. “Sagkeeng First Nation does not consent to the use of GHA 26 by MMF Metis Harvesters.”
“The Sagkeeng First Nation maintains that the MMF does not have the right or authority to fully re-open GHA 26 to the harvesting of moose or even hunt in the area.” In an email to the Advocate sent on October 18, Chief Henderson said that the MMF has neither sent a response, nor reached out in anyway, to Chief and Council.
GHA 26 has been closed to licensed moose hunters since 2010 but the province came to an agreement with Sagkeeng, Black River and Hollow Water to allow hunt in certain areas for treaty rights based harvesting (see map below).
On October 9, 2020 the province extended that moratorium for a year, making an about-face over a limited hunting season that had been proposed for the Duck and Porcupine Mountain areas. “Despite these conservation closures, the moose population has not recovered to historic levels in those areas due to illegal hunting pressures and natural causes”, reasoned the government release.
The MMF responded that they felt betrayed by the province but while that would have seemingly put a stop to the MMF’s lottery plans, they went ahead with them anyway on Wednesday, October 14. An article in the Winnipeg Free Press said the MMF was willing to go to court to fight any charges laid by the province and quoted MMF president, David Chartrand as saying, “We’re ready to fight this, because we know we have a strong case here and we can prove the illegitimacy of the province’s actions.”
Sagkeeng’s Chief Henderson is also disappointed with the new provincial rules. “The new legislation enacted on a Friday, before the long weekend is a tactic of this government,” said Henderson in an email to the Advocate. “Where is the duty to consult? They talk about working together and having joint moose management, etc, but they have never mapped out what that means.” Henderson also said any Sagkeeng member charged will have their legal fees covered by the band. “We have treaty rights and will continue to challenge the governments of the day.”