Vince Natomagan wears a jacket emblazoned with Metis symbols. Photo courtesy Facebook

A northern Metis community says the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment will be taking into consideration traditional lands when handing out logging permits.

The Ministry held a meeting with members of the Kineepik Metis Local out of Pinehouse on Monday.

According to Vince Natomagan, Executive Director of the Metis Local, the meeting was to determine if there was any infringement on harvesting rights during forest cutting operations.

Natomagan says they presented the Ministry with maps they developed between 2010 and 2013 outlining areas they use for traditional sustenance activity.

These areas include any areas used for sustenance trapping, domestic net setting, blue berry picking, chicken and rabbit hunting as well as cultural and sacred areas.

“The meeting went positive because both sides came in with good faith,” says Natomagan. “Our mapping has gone a long way into proving that there is aboriginal rights that may be infringed upon and because of our relationship they are definitely paying attention.”

Following the meeting, Natomagan says the Ministry of Environment plans to recognize these traditional areas for the next 20 years.

Natomagan also encouraged other communities to outline areas they use for sustenance activity.

He does say it is important to ensure these lands are used for traditional sustenance because he says often the Ministry of Environment won’t recognize areas used for commercial gain as traditional use.

“We trap today not to make any money at all, (we trap) to feed our families and they are starting to understand that,” says Natomagan.

He says he hopes based on their mapping the Ministry of Environment will amend the forestry cutting permits to exclude these areas.

“We must keep documenting out harvesting activity or else we lose every time.”