Court to rule on Metis hunting rights

MEDICINE HAT — A Medicine Hat court was to rule Wednesday on a bid to expand Metis hunting rights in the province.

MEDICINE HAT — A Medicine Hat court was to rule Wednesday on a bid to expand Metis hunting rights in the province.

Gary Hirsekorn is charged with taking a deer out of season in October 2007 near Cypress Hills.

He and two others took part in the hunt as part of a campaign by Metis to force the issue of hunting rights into Alberta courts.

The Supreme Court defined who could benefit from Metis rights outlined in the 1982 Constitution in a 2003 ruling known as the Powley decision.

The Government of Alberta only recognizes certain communities in northern Alberta as Metis under the definition, which requires, in part, a long-standing presence in a region and an adherence to Metis traditions.

Defence lawyer Jean Teillet has argued that Metis culture has continued in the Medicine Hat area from the 19th century to today.

However, Alberta Justice lawyer Tom Rothwell suggested in his final arguments that a continuous Metis community in the region has not been proven by the defence nor does Hirsekorn, who was born in Manitoba, have an ancestral connection to the Cypress Hills.

Teillet countered that if Metis from one historical community couldn’t hunt in a separate one, they would be the only aboriginal people who couldn’t.

Two other men, Ron Jones and Bruce Bates, were charged in the case. Bates pleaded guilty shortly after the trial began and received a fine.

Jones was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide at his home near Wetaskiwin, a few months ago.