APTN National News
Members of the Northwest Territories Metis Nation are demanding that Ottawa put $120-million in a trust fund to compensate them for lost hunting revenue after being evicted from the Wood Buffalo National Park.
Following the creation of Wood Buffalo National Park in 1922 – just under 2,000 Metis hunters and trappers and their families were involuntarily removed from the park which was within the homeland of the Metis.
“A lot of the people they were removed from the park,” said Earl Evans, a member of the Fort Smith Metis Council in the NWT. “They hunted and trapped and that’s all they knew, that’s all their family knew and that’s all their children knew.
“Once they were removed from the park they had to find other means to live and go.”
Evans and his friend Ken Hudson have been hunting for decades – but not on their traditional land.
Through treaties, First Nations communities in the area were given hunting rights with restrictions – but the Metis were not included.
Read more: Wood Buffalo National Park
Now Hudson and Evans of the Northwest Territories Metis Nation are posting protest signs at key areas highlighting the historical exclusion of Metis from the park.
“It is very important that we do this for the younger generation coming up so their rights are there,” said Evans.
The Metis have been voicing their concerns to Parks Canada for a long time.
“I was complaining before these signs,” said Hudson. “I said your website does not include any information about the Metis, not a word.
“Two years of talking with them and they did nothing.”
For Metis now hunting in the park is a touchy subject -granting hunting permits is case by case.
Hudson obtained his permit in 2001, only after he proved his Indigenous roots tied back to Fort Chipewyan people who were granted rights.
But Hudson wants people to know the history of how Metis were treated here.
The Metis Nation is requesting that $120 million from the federal government for a trust fund to cover the losses.
“This is 90 years of denied rights in the park which is huge,” he said. “When you consider just on the low side that the loss in fur and meat was in excess of $120 million that isn’t a small thing.”
In the meantime, Hudson and Evans will continue to post signs.
“Anyplace that tourists go, where signs could be read. just to get the information out that this happened to Metis, because this was lost to history.”
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