Consultation and Responsible Stewardship: Protecting Our Natural Resources and Connections
Learn more about your harvesting rights and apply for your harvesting card today!
The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources is mandated to promote the conservation and protection of the land, environment, and natural resources in BC through responsible stewardship guided by Métis values and traditional knowledge. The Ministry is responsible for overseeing initiatives related to natural resources, land, and Métis traditional knowledge across all MNBC departments and Ministries. Current priorities include, but are not limited to, climate change, emergency preparedness and response, consultation, harvesting and land use, migratory bird management and conservation, and species at risk. This Ministry works closely with the British Columbia Métis Assembly of Natural Resources (BCMANR).
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BCMANR is a separate society that is affiliated with MNBC. Within the Natural Resources Act, “BCMANR” means the British Columbia Métis Assembly of Natural Resources, which is a non-political committee that manages natural resources on behalf of the MNBC.
BCMANR is, in principle, based on the success of the Métis people in the 1700-1800s. The “Buffalo Assembly” and the “Laws of the Prairies” were established by the “community” way of life. These communal commitments ensured the survival of the Métis people during tough times. The basic principles were: no “individual” way of thinking, and “that strength was generated from the collective group”. These principles were the basis of the historic Métis culture, and the present-day infrastructure and principles honours the past.
Each of the seven MNBC Regions appoints a highly-respected individual to represent their natural resource needs on a provincial level. There are eight non-political regional Captains of Natural Resources (Region 7 is divided into 7a and 7b) that form BCMANR. The Captain’s selection process is highlighted in BCMANR Policy and Procedures.
Region 1 Captain – Curt Smecher
Region 2 Captain – Leonard Laboucan
Region 3 Captain – Marlene Beattie
Region 4 Captain, BCMANR Chair – Mark Carlson
Region 5 Captain – Gary Ducommun
Region 6 Captain – Rene Lucier
Region 7 A – Vic Lavallee
Region 7 B – Vacant
The Duty to Consult and, where appropriate, accommodate, emerges from the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal and treaty rights in Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. These rights are coupled with the Supreme Court of Canada’s recognition of the obligation to protect the honour of the Crown. As Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin explained in the 2004 Haida decision, “[i]t is a corollary of Section 35 that the Crown act honourably in defining the rights it guarantees and in reconciling them with other rights and interests. This, in turn, implies a duty to consult and, if appropriate, accommodate.” Because this obligation applies only to those rights affirmed and recognized in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the duty to consult in Canada is associated with rectifying the imbalance of power that historically has existed in the country between the government and Aboriginal peoples.
Thomas Isaac wrote in his 2016 report, A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: A Report of the Minister’s Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Métis Decision, that “there is no doubt, at law, the Crown’s duty to consult Aboriginal peoples applies to Métis”. The Métis in British Columbia are Section 35 rights holders. These collective rights are represented by the Métis in British Columbia’s governing body, MNBC.
More than a decade ago, BCMANR and the MNBC Board approved the MNBC Consultation Guidebook, which included Consultation Guidelines and a Métis Traditional Knowledge Policy. During the 2017 Métis Nation Governing Assembly (MNGA), BCMANR made a commitment to return to the next MNGA with recommendations, and, at the 2018 MNGA, a further commitment was made to have a consultation table at our 40 Métis Rights and Reconciliation Community Engagement sessions in order to solicit feedback from our community leaders and citizens.
MNBC and BCMANR present the following updated draft Consultation Guidelines as a result of the above feedback coupled with following best practices in place from other Section 35 Rights Holders.
Note: The Métis Traditional Knowledge Policy has not been updated yet.
Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests),  3 S.C.R. 511, 2004 SCC 73
Thomas Isaac, A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: A Report of the Minister’s Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Métis Decision (June 2016), online: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada at 16
The land, hunting, fishing, and trapping are important to many Métis peoples’ way of life throughout history, and remains important to Métis culture and identity today. There are active Métis hunters, trappers, fishermen, and plant harvesters found throughout every region in British Columbia. We desire sustainable use of natural resources, including: managing natural resources to meet present needs without compromising the needs of future generations; providing stewardship of natural resources based on an ethic of respect for the land; balancing economic, productive, spiritual, ecological and traditional values of natural resources to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of the Métis peoples and other aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities; conserving biological diversity, soil, water, fish, wildlife, scenic diversity, and other natural resources; and restoring damaged ecologies.
We gather this valuable land use data through our harvester database, where harvesting card holders fill out annual surveys of their land use over the year, and through Use and Occupancy Mapping data, where Métis harvesters sit down for a one-on-one interview and documents their life history of land use.
If you are an active land user, we encourage you to get your Métis Harvester Card and fill out our annual harvester survey.
Land Use research plays a significant role in giving Métis a strong voice when it comes to consultation processes and demonstrating that the land is important to us. This type of data can also assist in wildlife stewardship and conservation initiatives.
MNBC has worked with a world expert on this type of mapping research to develop a new methodology to gather this valuable data. The new methodology is similar to past mapping projects, but is more powerful and scientifically sound. It has been designed specifically for Métis land use in BC and has the power to be more effective if this information were ever to be used in court to protect Métis Land Use or fight for harvesting Rights.
This kind of knowledge and information gives Métis a stronger voice at negotiation and consultation tables. It is a powerful form of research and mapping and demonstrates the importance of land to Métis in BC. As we document what you have done on the land, (hunting, fishing, plant gathering, cultural use, etc.), the information we get is current, and cannot be ignored or tossed aside in negotiations or potential court cases. It is also important for promoting Métis culture and can demonstrate to others that Métis are out on the land using it.
The following Hodgepodge map is incomplete, as we have not interviewed all Métis harvesters in BC, but demonstrates strong Metis land use within the province.