Top court rejects Métis hunting rights appeal

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal involving Métis hunting and fishing rights in Alberta.

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal involving Métis hunting and fishing rights in Alberta.

The Métis Nation of Alberta had filed arguments on behalf of hunter Garry Hirsekorn that challenged a lower court ruling that restricted hunting rights to around northern Métis settlements.

The arguments focused on a Supreme Court ruling 10 years ago that granted Ontario Métis hunting rights.

Hirsekorn was convicted in 2010 of hunting out of season after he shot a mule deer near the Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta.

The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, saying there wasn’t enough proof that Métis had a historic presence in southern Alberta that granted them a right to hunt for food.

The Métis Nation argued that buffalo hunters were nomads who rarely, or never, returned to established communities.

The organization had been using the Hirsekorn case to press Alberta to recognize Métis hunting rights across the province.

Hirsekorn’s lawyers had argued that the courts should expand the definition of the Supreme Court’s Powley test case, which established the benchmark for Métis rights.

The Powley ruling requires that Métis who claim constitutional aboriginal hunting rights need to prove there were established communities in an area before the Métis came under the effective control of European laws and customs.

Lower-court judges concluded that Hirsekorn’s lawyers failed to prove that the Métis had a significant long-standing historic presence in the Cypress Hills where he shot the deer.

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