Métis Nation of Alberta offers citizens a chance to learn ice fishing with Métis Harvesters
Mar 27, 2023
[Pigeon Lake, Alberta] – The Métis Nation of Alberta’s (MNA) Children and Family Services (CFS) Department, in partnership with the MNA Harvesting Team, recently hosted 30 families for the MNA’s annual Frosty Reels Family Camp, which helps Métis Albertans develop the skills needed to pursue sustainable living, enhance self-sufficiency and food security, and build respect for the environment.
Over four weekends from February 24 to March 19, 2023, families participated in activities including ice safety lessons, ice fishing, and fish scale art. The MNA provided citizens with fishing gear including parkas and snowpants, to ensure families were properly equipped for participation in the outdoors. Attendees, which included Métis of all ages, connected over cultural experiences while learning important harvesting skills from experts.
MNA Director of Health, Reagan Bartel attended the camp with her sister and nephew. “I think the opportunity to get out on the land is something that many of our urban Métis citizens don’t get the chance to experience,” said Bartel. “It’s important for communities to realize that when you come together, amazing things can happen.”
Harvesting practices like fishing and hunting are central to many Métis peoples’ way of life and have deep cultural and historical significance, serving as an important method of sustenance and economic prosperity for Métis people past and present. These practices play an integral role in Alberta’s history, society and economy and are deeply interwoven with Métis culture and connection to the land.
“Connection to culture and community is supportive of strong families, said MNA Director of Child and Family Services, Kelsey Bradburn. “The Frosty Reels Camp helps families build important relationships and enhances wellbeing. It’s exciting to see youth learning and embracing Métis culture.”
“The MNA creates space for knowledge to be shared across generations,” said Rowan Schroedl, Bartel’s nephew and one of the camp attendees. “From this camp, I took away a deeper understanding of our history on this land and some of the many reasons ice fishing is important other than for sport.”
This year is significant as it marks the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision, R. V. Powley, which found that members of a Métis community in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario have an Indigenous right to hunt for food.
“In Powley, the courts recognized and affirmed under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, that Métis across the Nation hold Indigenous harvesting rights,” said MNA Present, Audrey Poitras. “Although the decision was based in Sault Ste. Marie, its impacts were nation-wide. Prior to Powley, Métis were not afforded this recognition, so this marked a major step forward. The camps taking place this year are in part a celebration of that historic victory and wouldn’t have been possible without Powley.”
With the MNA’s ratification of its Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution in November 2022—a major step forward on the path to self-government—departments like Children and Family Services will be able to provide even more services like this moving forward.
Please find a link to a video interview with Reagan Bartel’s family on the Frosty Reels Family Camp here. Photo assets are also available upon request.
For more information or to arrange an interview with an MNA spokesperson:
Consultant, Media Profile