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  • Writer's pictureOntario Métis Facts

Métis Fishing Threatened at Killarney

Commercial and subsistence fishing have long been integral aspects of the Métis economy and way of life in the Upper Great Lakes, including for the small Métis village at Killarney. At numerous points, the Métis at Killarney have needed to protect their way of life from outside threats.

As early as 1838, for example, Métis in Killarney collectively advocated for their fishing-related rights and interests. These were captured by a Roman Catholic cleric travelling the north shore of Lake Huron, who later wrote to the Lieutenant-Governor on their behalf:

“In the course of my journey I had repeated and earnest solicitations from the Half Breeds

… to use my best endeavours to obtain for them and their families the same privileges and advantages as the pure Indians have acquired…”

As settlers moved into the Killarney area in the 1880s, Métis and Anishinabek grew more deeply concerned with their ability to continue their fishing traditions, describing them as being, “without consideration to the future.”

Their concerns were recognized by a Member of Parliament in 1888, who wrote that the Métis, “are very poor, now that the white people are devouring the fish and rendering useless to them the fisheries on which they used to depend.”

Métis families even faced threats and harassment when they tried to stop settler fishermen from carelessly depleting fish populations around Killarney.

At Byng Inlet in 1894, for example, Joseph Lamorandiere was forced to defend himself after confronting settler fishermen for overfishing. That same year, fishermen were reported to have killed Pierre Regis Lamorandiere’s horse and cattle as well as “[starved] him out” of his blacksmith business.

This harassment spurred other Métis families, such as the Solomons, Pilons, and Labattes, to band together and support the Lamorandieres. Their collective response both indicated and further solidified their distinct Métis community along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay.

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