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Alberta has a new policy for Métis Harvesting as of September 1, 2019. To view the new policy, see:
The Government of Alberta is responsible for managing our Province’s fish resources. This includes as a first priority the proper management and conservation of fish stocks in order to ensure an abundance of fish in the future.
In Alberta, the rights of Indigenous people are recognized in law and by government policy. The Government of Alberta is committed to sustaining an Indigenous food fishery within the constraints of fish conservation obligations. Domestic fishing licences are made available to First Nations and recognized Métis harvesters and other persons who can demonstrate a need.
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada referenced in the Constitution, in addition to First Nations (referred to in law as Indians), and Inuit. Alberta's Métis have played an integral role in Alberta's history, society and economy even before Alberta became a province.
Currently there are about 1,600 recognized Métis harvesters in Alberta. In 2016, there were about 134,500 licensed recreational hunters active in Alberta; recognized Métis harvesters equate to less than 1% of said licensed hunters.
What are Métis Harvesting Rights?
The 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision, R. v. Powley, found that a Métis collective in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario has an Aboriginal right to hunt for food and is recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, in the Sault Ste. Marie area. In that case, the Supreme Court of Canada set out the test to be applied to determine whether a Métis collective has an aboriginal right to harvest. This test forms the basis of Alberta's current Métis Harvesting in Alberta policy.
Métis Harvesting Policy
Alberta’s Métis Harvesting Policy follows the principles outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley (2003) and provides the framework for recognizing Métis individuals who may have rights to harvest game and fish for food in Alberta. The intent of the policy review was to ensure the policy is consistent with case law, while considering the needs of Métis Harvesters.
First Nations People with Harvesting Rights
This short summary covers the basics on Treaty Indian hunting rights and responsibilities in Alberta, and pertains to First Nations' people in the province who are defined as Indians under the federal Indian Act and who hunt game for food.
Indigenous people with harvesting rights in Alberta may obtain a free-of-charge domestic fishing license to harvest fish for food from eligible waters for themselves and their immediate household members, using a gill net or rod and reel, following specified conditions put in place for conservation purposes. Fish harvested under a domestic fishing licence may not be sold, bought, traded or bartered. Fishing for food under the authority of a domestic fishing licence generally provides increased fish harvest opportunities in comparison to recreational fishing.
The rules in place for domestic fishing licences in those eligible waters may vary and be adjusted annually.
For more information on obtaining a domestic fishing licence, please contact the nearest Alberta Environment and Parks office.
Note: All persons between the ages of 16 and 65, not having harvesting rights in Alberta, who fish with rod and reel are required to obtain a sportfishing licence and follow all applicable sportfishing rules.
Government of Canada
If you have further questions regarding these subjects, please speak with a fish and Wildlife Officer or Fisheries Biologist.