Chief Goo­goo says moose hunt­ing prac­tices need re­view

The Victoria Standard - - Local News - ANNE FARRIES

With moose hunt­ing sea­son un­der­way in Vic­to­ria County, Chief Rod Goo­goo worked last week to find a bet­ter way.

The Mi’kmaq chief of Way­cobah gath­ered around 40 guides, nat­u­ral­ists and na­tive moose har­vesters at a meet­ing October 3 to make abo­rig­i­nal hunt­ing “more safe and re­spon­si­ble,” he said in a phone in­ter­view Fri­day.

“We call our­selves the stew­ards of the land,” Goo­goo said. “If we’re go­ing to talk that talk, we bet­ter walk that walk.”

An in­dige­nous-only moose cull in The Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Parks has led to ten­sion dur­ing the past three years, fu­eled by non-na­tive peo­ple who felt left out of the har­vest, and by peo­ple like Rose­mary Courage whose fam­ily has camped in the park each sum­mer for most of her life. The pro­lific writer of let­ters to ed­i­tors is on record as pre­fer­ring that the cull not hap­pen, but if it must, that helicopters be banned.

Last year, cull ad­min­is­tra­tors said helicopters are used to re­trieve moose car­casses from rugged ter­rain, not for shoot­ing. And Parks Canada said that thin­ning the moose pop­u­la­tion will al­low trees to re­turn to bar­ren moun­tain­sides.

Mean­while, Goo­goo says there is a con­flict between provin­cial reg­u­la­tions and abo­rig­i­nal cus­toms.

“Provin­cial hunt­ing laws don’t re­ally ap­ply to us be­cause of treaties,” Goo­goo said. “Peo­ple have to un­der­stand that the treaties didn’t come from the Supreme Court of Canada or the Con­sti­tu­tion. Our hunt­ing rights come from the treaties that we signed back in the 1700s. And they are still valid. They were reaf­firmed by the court.”

“It’s not a free-for-all for us. That’s not the way we see it.”

“We have our own (hunt­ing) guide­lines that were put in place many years ago. The time has come to re­view and re­vise them. Things change over the years.”

“If our peo­ple are go­ing to be hunt­ing un­der abo­rig­i­nal rights, then we have to look back to our cus­toms and see if we are do­ing things the proper way, and if there is a bet­ter way of do­ing things. We have to look at our­selves and be re­spon­si­ble.”

“If we’re go­ing to be self-gov­ern­ing one day, this is a good ex­er­cise that we need to work on.”

For ex­am­ple, Goo­goo said, “There is a sea­son for ev­ery­thing.”

“We don’t hunt furbear­ing an­i­mals in the spring or sum­mer. That’s a time for us to do other things, be­cause the an­i­mals are com­ing off a long hard win­ter. They have calves. So, you’ve got to give them a chance to rest, and you wait un­til the fall.”

Goo­goo said he called the meet­ing be­cause, “When it comes to our rights to hunt and fish, I need help on that. I’m not afraid to get in­put from all the peo­ple that are in­volved. It’s bet­ter when the whole com­mu­nity agrees, ‘this is the way we should be do­ing things,’ in­stead of im­pos­ing new laws or sanc­tions.”

He plans to host more meet­ings over the win­ter, in­clud­ing one on the main­land in Novem­ber.

Mean­while, he was pleased that a moose-hunt­ing camp for Mi’kmaq youth was held October 7 on Hunters Moun­tain.

“The hunters will take the kids out two or three per vehicle, and if they do get an an­i­mal, the kids are taught how to clean it and take care of it so we can get it to a butcher.”

“It’s our way of ed­u­cat­ing our kids on how things should be done.”

“How to act re­spon­si­bly … all that stuff that’s not taught in school.”

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