Seeing a white moose is considered to be good luck in Indigenous culture.
Flying Post First Nation member Troy Woodhouse has seen a white moose a few times in his life.
“White moose has been a symbol for us as long as we’ve known,” he said. “It’s been known as the spirit moose. If you see one in real life and you get a glimpse of it, you just realize how much of a sacred animal it is and rare and majestic to see.”
Moose have always played a big part in Indigenous culture to provide meat for winter and hide for clothing, Woodhouse said.
But the white moose is sacred and it should be spared, not used for harvest, he added.
The week of Oct. 26, two cow moose were shot and harvested on Nova Road near kilometre 18, northeast of Foleyet. One was a white moose. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is investigating the incident.
Although Woodhouse doesn’t live in the community anymore, he has offered up a $1,000 reward for any information that may lead to an arrest or to encourage the people involved to turn themselves in.
“Maybe it would encourage other local businesses or other First Nation members to voice their concerns and denounce that crime in general,” he said. “Potentially, it could’ve been a mistake from a hunter, too … Even if somebody turned themselves in, I would put the money towards their legal fees because mistakes do happen.”
Flying Post First Nation Chief Murray Ray said he's been getting calls from members living in the Foleyet area who are "outraged."
"Everybody knows about this, there are even signs there, saying about the white moose and watch out for it," he said, adding he saw a white cow moose several years ago and it was "beautiful to see."
"I really hope they find the people that are responsible for this and they're charged," he said. "We've been talking about putting up a reward but right now, I let the MNR do their investigation. You let the law do their part. If not, then we're looking as a First Nation to maybe put up a reward for any information."
It's the first time Woodhouse has heard of a white moose being harvested.
“They’re very unique to the Groundhog River area and nobody’s quite sure of the population count, but they’ve been around forever and they’re always spotted here and there randomly,” he said. “It’s a very unique thing to the area, so it’s special that way for us.”
Woodhouse encourages Flying Post First Nation members as well as hunters and other people to be diligent when they're out in the forest.
"It's up to us to protect the land and the forest," he said. "We have a choice as individuals to stand up for what we believe in, and that's what I was trying to do."
If you have any information about the incident, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit P3tips.com.
If your information leads to an arrest, you could earn up to $2,000 in cash. You will remain anonymous and not have to testify in court.
Woodhouse can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 250-814-8473.