The release in August of Tiamuwel Netuklimkewe–Unama’ki Moose Harvesting According to Netukulimk was an historic moment for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia. It showed that we accept the responsibility as stewards of the resource and that the time has come to assert our rights.
Clifford Paul, Moose Management Coordinator explains, “The release of the guidelines resulted in improved conditions for families to hunt in the Cape Breton Highlands, making the annual hunt more safe and enjoyable. More youth and Elders are getting together to organize their own hunts. People are beginning to see the relationship between the Mi’kmaq and the resource is a very positive thing in the community. This relationship is something that we all want to preserve and protect for future generations.”
“The Government of Nova Scotia has applauded our efforts and through our work on these guidelines, we demonstrated that the Mi’kmaq people have a positive role to play in management. This work sets a blueprint for other management issues such as land use, forestry and fishing. This Mi’kmaq-led process, working with our communities to achieve consensus, is an example of self-government in action.”
Years of research and consultation went into the publication of the guidelines, but their release is the beginning and not the end of a process. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on issues that are not fully developed in the present guidelines. For example, some people feel that the issue of non-native accompaniment needs to take into account the reality that non-native family members may be needed to assist in the harvest.
Issues relating to Mi’kmaq people making a moderate livelihood from the resource, along with the issue of sustainability need further discussion. Another issue is ecotourism as a responsible way to ensure that the resource is always strong. Shooting the moose with a camera and not a gun could have signifiant implications for the sustainability of the herd.
Another concept that needs to be developed is the use of the entire moose–from using the hide for clothing, drum making and other leather work to using antlers and bones for beads and jewellery–these are possibilities that we are just beginning to explore.
Enforcement is an important component in the transition from voluntary compliance to Mi’kmaq law. Clifford explains, “We see the existing DNR Mi’kmaq liaison officers as a good start towards enforcement. Our communities want to see more Mi’kmaq on the enforcement side of things. As UINR’s Natural Resource Officer program develops, we expect to have officers in place with the authority to enforce these and other Mi’kmaq management laws.”
“The Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network is another crutial component in the enforcement picture. We need some way to deal with offences. Discussions with the Network are ongoing and we will build on the relationship we began over the past few years to strengthen this.”
“People are recognizing Mi’kmaq jurisdiction and authority. We want people to talk about the guidelines and let us know where they need to be improved. The guidelines are a result of the collective vision of our communities–hunters, elders, youth, grandparents and community members.
Education is the important next step in the process. We will be visiting every Mi’kmaq community in Nova Scotia over the next few months to get their feedback. We intend to have another collective gathering in the Fall of 2010 to continue the process and have set a target of the 2011 hunt to release the next guidelines that will be Mi’kmaq law.”