Métis hunt for justice in the courts

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Jan 9 09:16:14 MST 2001


Subject: Landmark Métis Rights Case - R v. Powley - At Ontario Court of
Appeal January 10 - 12, 2001
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001 07:00:46 -0500
From: portfolio at newswire.ca
To: "Portfolio Email User" <portfolio at newswire.ca>

Attention News/Assignment Editors:

Landmark Métis Rights Case - R v. Powley - At Ontario Court of Appeal
January 10 - 12, 2001

     OTTAWA, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - R v. Powley, the most significant Métis
rights case of the year, and the decade, will be heard before a three
member panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto on January 10 -
12th, 2001.

     The case began in October 1993 when two Métis Nation of Ontario
(MNO) citizens, Steve and Roddy Powley (father and son), shot a bull
moose for their winter harvest near Sault Ste Marie. The Powleys were
charged with unlawfully hunting moose and unlawful possession of moose
meat.

     At trial, the two Métis hunters asserted they were exercising their
Aboriginal right to hunt as Métis. In a "slam dunk" victory before the
Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in 1998, Justice Vaillancourt held
that the Powleys' Métis right to hunt had been established and he
acquitted the Powleys of all charges. The Ontario government appealed
this decision to the Ontario Superior Court in 1999, only to once again
have the Powleys' Métis right to hunt overwhelmingly upheld.

     "The Powleys are Métis hunters on two levels. They hunt for food on
the land and they hunt for justice in the courts. The Métis hunt for
justice put Métis history on trial for the first time in Ontario", said
Jean Teillet, a Métis lawyer and legal counsel for the Powleys.

     Ms. Teillet went on to say, "We are now at the highest court in
Ontario, the Court of Appeal, where we will once again put Métis history
before the courts. We believe that the facts of history and the law run
together in this matter and we are looking forward to the opportunity to
tell the Métis story. Métis are good hunters and we are confident that
their hunt for justice will be given a fair hearing and that justice for
the Métis will soon be a reality."

     "Up to now, Canadian governments have been silent on issues with
respect to the Métis. The courts to date have said governments must
negotiate with the Métis because this on-going denial of justice
undermines the rule of law, as well as, the fundamental principles and
sacred covenants this country has been built on. This wilful blindness
cannot continue", said Mr. Gerald Morin, President of the Métis National
Council (MNC), "Aboriginal and Treaty rights are recognized and affirmed
in the highest law of the land - Canada's Constitution. Canadian
governments have an obligation, a responsibility, to justly settle the
claims of Aboriginal people within the federation" Mr. Morin added

     Tony Belcourt, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario stated, "The
Government of Ontario has focused their appeal on a premise that since
there is no 'definition' of Métis, anyone who claims to be Métis may
hunt and; therefore, critically threaten the wildlife population. We
categorically reject this 'scorched-earth' fear-mongering rationale."

     "A key fact that the Province conveniently continues to ignore is
that the Métis are already hunting and fishing for food. The Métis
Nation already has a stringent registry process and harvesting policy.
There will not be an influx of 'new' hunters. The Métis Hunt already
exists", Mr. Belcourt concluded.

     Clem Chartier, President of the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan and a
Métis lawyer intervening in the case on behalf of the MNC stated, "We do
not accept any effort by the courts or governments to define the Métis.
It is our position that any attempt by the Ontario government, or any
government, to define who we are as a people is a violation of the
United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. The right of
self-determination is an internationally recognized right of "peoples"
and only the Métis as a "people" have the right to determine who are
members of its' nation."

     "It needs to be recognized that we have been following our own laws
and putting them into practice, since and before the confederation of
Canada". Added Mr. Chartier.

     "We hope that Canadian governments will learn from negative past
experiences, like the recent events in Burnt Church. The Métis Nation
continues to offer its willingness to engage in a process of negotiation
and is hopeful pro-active leadership on the part of Canada and the
provinces will accept our offer", concluded MNC President Gerald Morin.

     A press conference will be held today at 10:30am at the Media Studio
in Queen's Park
     -0-                           01/09/2001

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Christi Belcourt, Director of Communications, Métis National Council,
(613) 232-3216, or cell phone: (613) 298-1928, Email:
cbelcourt at Métisnation.ca. For more information please visit
http://www.métisnation.ca or http://www.métisnation.org


Louis Proyect
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