North Slave Métis settle Bathurst caribou lawsuit with N.W.T.
Métis will receive Bathurst tags once hunting ban is lifted
The Northwest Territories government has sent the North Slave Métis Alliance a letter saying that once the current ban on hunting Bathurst caribou is lifted, members will be entitled to a share of tags for the herd, according to president Bill Enge.
A lawsuit against the government — filed in hopes of securing tags — has been dropped by the alliance, Enge adds.
In recent years, the territorial government has only given Bathurst caribou hunting tags to Tlicho and Yellowknives Dene members, much to the displeasure of the North Slave Métis.
"We are just happy and relieved that we have a right to harvest caribou in our backyard," says Enge.
A near-complete ban on hunting Bathurst caribou remains in effect in the territory. However, Enge says the North Slave Métis are now entitled to hunt a portion of the very small number of Bathurst caribou set aside by the government this year for community ceremonial purposes.
It's likely too late in the season for his members to actually hunt Bathurst caribou, says Enge, "[but] we don't need to do that. We secured 23 Bluenose East caribou a week ago. That's enough for us to at least end the drought among our people. Our elders are enjoying having caribou meat in their diet again.
"But certainly, down the road, for next year, we'll be making sure our aboriginal right to hunt from the Bathurst herd vis-a-vis the ceremonial tags will be respected. And we've been told it will be respected."
Enge says it took impending court proceedings related to its lawsuit to prompt the GNWT to reconsider its stance.
The territorial government has not issued a press release regarding an agreement with the North Slave Métis Alliance.