FIRST NATIONS’ MOOSE HUNT IN ONTARIO: A COMMUNITY’S PERSPECTIVES AND REFLECTIONS

Brian E McLaren

Abstract


 Moose (Alces alces) hunting and other means of forest food production employed by members of First Nations communities are undertaken as part of their treaty rights in Ontario, articulated in specific nation-to-nation agreements with the Government of Canada on behalf of the British Crown. Aroland First Nation in Northwestern Ontario is party to Treaty 9 (1905), which overtly protects the community’s rights to hunt throughout the unoccupied tracts of Crown land claimed as “traditional territory.” Traditional use supersedes provincial authority and, as such, is not managed by provincial policy or regulation. This jurisdictional divide has presented an interesting history and many challenges for both provincial managers and First Nations land users. Strained relationships between provincial authorities and First Nations, emergent from decades of misunderstandings of jurisdictional authority, have presented difficulty in all aspects of natural resource management. In this paper, we engaged community-based researchers in an exploration of the community’s perspective of the current and historical management regime. We also quantified the annual moose harvest by the First Nation, an assessment that is never undertaken by provincial managers; our results show a 40% error in provincial calculations. This error could have significant implications for future moose populations, as well as wildlife managers and both provincial and First Nations hunters. In collaboration with community members, we interpret the results, discuss implications, and provide recommendations for future consideration.

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