Leah La­plante, Mi­nis­ter of Na­tu­ral Re­sources in the Mé­tis go­vern­ment, un­ders­tands the im­por­tance of pro­tec­ting the Mé­tis’ an­ces­tral har­ves­ting rights, in­clu­ding hun­ting, fi­shing, trap­ping and ga­the­ring. She has her­self li­ved off the land for her whole life.

“I am Mé­tis and I li­ved my en­tire life in a small com­mu­ni­ty lo­ca­ted in the woods near Lake Me­ti­goshe. For my fa­mi­ly, the fruits of the har­vest were the on­ly means of sur­vi­val.”

While these har­ves­ting rights, tra­di­tions and laws,, which have been pas­sed down in Mé­tis fa­mi­lies from ge­ne­ra­tion to ge­ne­ra­tion, date back to be­fore the Pro­vince of Ma­ni­to­ba’s ori­gins in the 19th cen­tu­ry, there were times when they we­ren’t of­fi­cial­ly re­co­gni­zed by the Crown.

“I still re­mem­ber when I was li le and my fa­ther went out to hunt deer at night­fall so as not to be seen; he wor­ked to feed our fa­mi­ly just as our El­ders had al­ways done. We were al­ways afraid that so­me­thing might hap­pen to him.

“Thanks to the Ma­ni­to­ba Me­tis Fe­de­ra­tion that took a stand on our be­half in the late 1990s, our rights have been re­co­gni­zed since 2004 in the Mé­tis Laws of the Har­vest guide and we no lon­ger have to hide to go out hun­ting at night, in the dark as though we were cri­mi­nals!” The MMF is conti­nuing to work to en­sure that Mé­tis har­ves­ting rights are re­co­gni­zed eve­ryw­here and ack­now­led­ged by all. In the mean­time, Leah La­plante re­mains confi­dent of her suc­cess while she is out hun­ting just as her an­ces­tors have done for ge­ne­ra­tions.

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