Hunting, fishing and trapping are important to many Métis peoples’ way of life. Alberta's Métis have played an integral role in the province’s history, society and economy. Métis are 1 of 3 Aboriginal peoples of Canada in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, in addition to First Nations and Inuit.
The 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision, R. v. Powley, found that members of a Métis community in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario have an Aboriginal right to hunt for food. This 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 determined that a Métis collective has an aboriginal right to harvest.
Métis harvesting in Alberta policy
The Métis harvesting in Alberta policy follows the principles outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada, and provides the framework for recognizing Métis individuals who potentially have rights to hunt, fish and trap for food in defined Métis Harvesting Areas in Alberta.
Read the Métis harvesting in Alberta policy
As described by the policy, recognized Métis harvesters can fish, hunt and trap for food within specific areas.
You can apply to be recognized as a Métis harvester in Alberta through:
Domestic Fishing Licence
In Alberta, Métis harvesters may fish with a Domestic Fishing Licence, which provides more fish harvesting opportunities at eligible lakes and rivers, in comparison with those licences provided under sportfishing regulations.
After government engagement with Métis communities and organizations, Domestic Fishing Licences were updated to permit the use of rod and reel (angling gear) in addition to a gill net to harvest fish for food.
Fishing without a Domestic Fishing Licence
Recognized Métis harvesters who have not obtained a Domestic Fishing Licence or intend to fish in waters not eligible for this licence, are required to purchase a sportfishing licence and follow the sportfishing rules for those waters.
Examples of sportfishing rules include:
- closed seasons
- possession and size limits
If you do not have harvesting rights recognized by Alberta, you are required to purchase a sportfishing licence and follow the sportfishing rules for all waters.
Sportfishing rules are found in the Guide to Sportfishing Regulations. The guide is available where sportfishing licences are sold and is updated annually.
How to get a Domestic Fishing Licence
Domestic Fishing Licences are available annually and free-of-charge through:
Métis harvesters can also get help from a local Fish and Wildlife office. Bring your documents or cards confirming you are recognized as a harvester.
There are 241 lakes and 8 rivers eligible for fish harvest with a Domestic Fishing Licence. Rules for each eligible waterbody are included in the Domestic Fishing Licence Conditions and updated annually.
Read the Domestic Fishing Licence Conditions
Fish harvested under a Domestic Fishing Licence may not be sold, bought, traded or bartered. Fishing for food under the authority the licence generally provides increased fish harvest opportunities in comparison to recreational fishing.