Métis residents call on province to recognize hunting and fishing rights in southern Sask.

Métis people in southern Saskatchewan are pushing for change over their section 35 hunting and fishing rights they say are not being honoured by the provincial government.

Donald Belhumeur, a resident of Regina who has been hunting, trapping and fishing since he was a child, won a court case 13 years ago when the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan ruled that Métis people in the Qu’Appelle Valley and environs, including the City of Regina, do possess those hunting and fishing rights.

However Belhumeur said the government continues to disregard the decision for the Métis in southern Saskatchewan while acknowledging those rights in northern Saskatchewan.

Belhumeur’s lawyer Clément Chartier with the Métis Legal Research and Education Foundation suggested it’s a sign of disrespect.

“Why is it that when they recognize Métis hunting rights that this provincial government disrespects not only the court’s ruling but disrespects the Métis of southern Saskatchewan,” explained Chartier, a Métis resident of Buffalo Narrows. “They are no different than the Métis of northwest Saskatchewan where I come from.

Clément Chartier (left) and Charles Belhumeur (right) take questions from the media during their event on Thursday, September 17 in Regina. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

Donald Belhumeur was not in attendance for the media conference on Thursday morning on the lawn in front of the Saskatchewan legislature. His brother Charles Belhumeur spoke to attendees and reporters in his place.

Charles, who was evidently frustrated by the situation he, his family and other Métis in the south are in, said the government has a proprietary profiteering attitude towards the province’s resources.

“It’s a big motivation in denying Métis rights because they sell all these licenses to American hunters for pretty big sums of money,” stated Belhumeur. “They are worried we will call the animals to a point that they won’t be able to do it. I think that’s part of the motivation behind it.”

Chartier said the government needs to do the right thing and quit harassing their people.

“They are trying to exercise their rights to feed their family particularly during this pandemic time when many require food from nature to be able to sustain themselves in the way we always have.”

A letter has been sent to Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan regarding their concerns.

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