First Nations Rights and Responsibilities

Fishing, Hunting & Gathering
The Rights and Responsibilities of First Nations People in Manitoba

First Nations people have always had a special relationship with the natural life forms that the land provides - like fish, wildlife and plants. This relationship is based on subsistence needs and cultural values extending back thousands of years.

The Natural Resources Transfer Agreement (NRTA), which forms part of the Constitution Act, 1930, provides that Indian people "have the right, which the Province hereby assures to them, of hunting, trapping and fishing game and fish for food at all seasons of the year on all unoccupied Crown lands and on any other lands to which (they) may have a right of access." Treaty and Aboriginal rights relating to hunting, fishing and gathering are also recognized and affirmed as part of the Constitution of Canada by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

With these rights come responsibilities like conservation and safety. People have a responsibility to ensure that their actions in harvesting natural resources do not damage the local population of the resource taken.  When the level of use is greater than the ability of the resource to sustain that use, the area can no longer meet the needs of the people.  At times, restrictions become necessary for all resource harvesters to ensure the survival of the wild populations. It is also important that all fishers and hunters be aware that safety is extremely important not only for themselves but also for other users of the land. For these reasons, there are some restrictions that are intended for conservation and safety purposes that apply to all Aborigials users and licensed hunters and fishers.

It is also important to understand that there are many other resource-users on the land that are carrying on their traditions by fishing, hunting and trapping. These activities have also become a part of their heritage. Each user group must respect the privileges and rights of the other. Commercial and other licensed users of fish and wildlife need to understand and respect the constitutionally protected rights of First Nations, and it is equally important for First Nations people to understand and respect the value that other users place on natural resources, and their ability to participate in fishing, hunting and trapping for their purposes under licence. All users need to understand and respect each other’s values and work co-operatively towards building a stronger relationship if Manitoba’s fishing, hunting and trapping heritage is to be preserved.

To view or print a document that outlines First Nation hunting, trapping and fishing rights and responsibilities in detail, click here.

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Herd of Buffalo

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