Myth: Only First Nations People Have Harvesting Rights

REALITY: The Metis Have a Constitutionally Protected Right to Harvest (hunt, trap, fish) Year Round

On the morning of October 22, 1993, Steve Powley and his son, Roddy, set out hunting. They headed north from their residence in Sault Ste. Marie, and at about 9 a.m., they shot and killed a bull moose near Old Goulais Bay Road.

After shooting the bull moose near Old Goulais Bay Road, Steve and Roddy Powley transported it to their residence in Sault Ste. Marie. Neither of them had a valid Outdoor Card, a valid hunting licence to hunt moose, or a validation tag issued by the MNR. In lieu of these documents, Steve Powley affixed a handwritten tag to the ear of the moose. The tag indicated the date, time, and location of the kill, as required by the hunting regulations. It stated that the animal was to provide meat for the winter. Steve Powley signed the tag, and wrote his Ontario Métis and Aboriginal Association membership number on it.

Later that day, two conservation officers arrived at the Powleys’ residence. The Powleys told the officers they had shot the moose. One week later, the Powleys were charged with unlawfully hunting moose and knowingly possessing game hunted in contravention of the Game and Fish Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. G-1. They both entered pleas of not guilty.

Excerpted from R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207, 2003 SCC 43

This groundbreaking case, known as the Powley Case, reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 2003. In September of that year, the Court handed down a unanimous verdict affirming that the Metis have protected harvesting rights as outlined in Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982). This means that Metis across Canada can now exercise their right to hunt, trap and fish year round without fear of prosecution.

However, many provincial governments, under their respective Fish and Wildlife Acts, still have not recognized this decision and have asked Metis hunters to refrain from pursuing these rights until the provinces resolve the issue within their boundaries.

Posted January 2011


For more information:

Background information and present implications of the Powley case (at

Metis Harvesting Rights (at

Manitoba Metis Federation (