Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 11 (2 March 1983)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Parliament, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 11 (2 March 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 11
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Wednesday, March 2, 1983
Chairman: Mr. Keith Penner
Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence
of the Special Committee on
The status, development and responsibilities of Band
governments on Indian reserves, as well as the financial
relationships between the Government of Canada and
(See back cover)
First Session of the
Thirty-second Parliament, 1980-81-82-83
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON
Chairman: Mr. Keith Penner
Vice-Chairman: Mr. Stan Schellenberger
Clerk of the Special Commitee
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at 9:14 o’clock a.m., this day, the Acting Chairman, Mr. Chénier, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Chénier, Gingras, Manly and Schellenberger.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison members present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac. From the Native Council of Canada: Mr. Clem Chartier.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
Witnesses: From Treaty No. 2: Senator Bill Standingready. From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations: Mr. Sterling Brass, Chairman. From the Pasqua Band: Elder Walter Gordon. From the Starblanket Band: Chief Irvin Starr. From the Whitebear Band: Chief Brian Standingready. From the Yorkton District Chiefs: Mr. Norman Stevenson, District Representative. From Lac La Hache Band: Chief Joe Tsannie.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference dated Wednesday, December 22, 1982. (See Minutes of Proceedings, Wednesday, December 22, 1982, Issue No. 1.)
By unanimous consent, it was agreed that Mr. Chénier do take the Chair as Acting Chairman.
Senator Standingready recited a prayer.
Chief Starr made a statement.
The Vice-Chairman assumed the Chair.
Chief Starr answered questions.
Elder Gordon made a statement and answered questions.
At 10:55 o’clock a.m., the sitting was suspended.
At 11:05 o’clock a.m., the sitting resumed.
Chief Standingready, Mr. Stevenson and Chief Tsannie each made a statement and answered questions.
At 12:40 o’clock pm., the Committee adjourned until 1:45 o’clock p.m. this afternoon.
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at 1:50 o’clock p.m., the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Schellenberger, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Chénier, Gingras, Manly and Schellenberger.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison members present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac. From the Native Council ofCanada: Mr. Clem Chartier.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
Witnesses: From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations: Mr. Vern Bellegarde, Chairman. From the Peepeekisis Band: Elder Walter Dieter Chief Aubrey Goforth and Chief George Poitras. From the Gordon Band: Senator Hilliard McNabb. From the James Smith Band: Chief Angus McLean. From the Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission: Mr. Clive Linklater, Member. From the Red Earth Band: Chief Alvin Head and Mr. Ken Hodgins, Resource Person. From the Prince Albert Student Residence: Mr. Howard Bighead, Administrator. From the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College: Mr. Dennis Acoose, Director. From the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College: Mr. Alex Greyeyes, Director. From the Saskatchewan Indian Community College: Mr. Ray Ahenakew, Director. From the Saskatchewan Servicesfor Off-Reserve Treaty Indians: Ms. Elsie Roberts. From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations: Mr. Gary Waters, Consultant.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference dated Wednesday, December 22, 1982. (See Minutes of Proceedings, Wednesday, December 22, 1982, Issue No. 1.)
On motion of Mr. Chenier, it was agreed,—That the expenses and services of Ms. Mary Rose Yooya, Chipewyan Interpreter, and Mr. Stan Wilson, Cree Interpreter, be paid by the Committee.
Chief Goforth, Senator McNabb, Elder Dieter and Chief McLean each made a statement and answered questions.
At 2:50 o’clock p.m., the sitting was suspended.
At 3:02 o’clock pm., the sitting resumed.
Chief Poitras. Mr. Linklater, Chief Head, Mr. Hodgins, Mr. Bighead, Mr. Acoose, Mr. Greyeyes, Mr. Ahenakew and Ms. Roberts each made a statement.
It was agreed,—That the documents tabled by the group making the presentation on education be filed as an exhibit with the Clerk of the Committee (Exhibit-H).
It was agreed,—That certain documents listed in the Order Form of the “Publications of the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College” be filed as an exhibit with the Clerk of the Committee (Exhibit-I).
Mr. Waters, Mr. Linklater, Ms. Roberts and Mr. Acoose answered questions.
At 5:33 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned until 7:00 o’clock p.m. this evening.
(26) The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at 7:25 o’clock p.m., the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Schellenberger, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Chénier, Manly and Schellenberger.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison members present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac. From the Native Council of Canada: Mr. Clem Chartier.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
Witnesses: From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations: Mr. Sterling Brass, Chairman. From the Black Lake Band: Chief Ben Toutsaint and Ms. Mary Rose Yooya, Interpreter. From the Fond du Lac Band: Acting Chief Norbert Fern. From the Saskatoon District Chiefs Convention: Chief Joe Quewezance and Mr. Andy Michael, President. From the Shellbrook District Chiefs: Senator Lorne Ahenakew. From Treaty No. 8: Senator Louis Chicken. From the Piapot Band: Chief Roland Crowe. From the Regina Indian Development Association: Mr. Glen Gordon. From the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College Students Union: Mr. Syd Fiddler. From the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association: Mrs. Angeline Roberts, President; Mrs. Dorothy Bird, Secretary; Senator Philomene Gamble and Chief Mary Anne Walker, Okanese Band.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference dated Wednesday, December 22, 1982. (See Minutes of Proceedings. Wednesday, December 22, 1982, Issue No. 1.)
Chief Toutsaint and Acting Chief Fern, through an interpreter, each made a statement.
Chief Quewezance, Senator Ahenakew, Mr. Michael, and Ms. Yooya each made a statement and answered questions.
Senator Chicken, through an interpreter, made a statement.
Chief Crowe, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Fiddler each made a statement and answered questions.
Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Bird, Senator Gamble and Chief Walker each made a statement.
Mrs. Bird and Chief Walker answered questions.
Senator Gamble recited a prayer.
At 11:07 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Wednesday, March 2, 1983
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): Chief Brian Standingready will say the opening prayer this morning.
Chief Brian Standingready (Federation of Saskatchewan Indians): Good morning, friends. I will say the prayers in my language; as you stand there, in whatever language you have you say your prayers.
(Chief Standingready speaks in his native language—Editor)
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): As the vice-chairman of the committee, Mr. Schellenberger, will be detained for a few minutes, I will need unanimous consent to act as chairman, or acting chairman, until he returns.
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chénier): Before we start, I would like to introduce the members of the committee. From the Assembly of First Nations we have Roberta Jamieson, who is part of the committee as a delegate. She has the same privileges as members of Parliament, except the one to vote. Next to her is René Gingras, a member of Parliament from the Province of Quebec, and Mr. Jim Manly, from British Columbia. My name is Ray Chénier; I am from Ontario.
This morning we have presentations on spiritual sovereignty and Indian self-government. We have here one elder and one chief: Elder Walter Gordon, and Chief Irvin Starr.
You may begin.
Chief Irvin Starr (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you personally for this opportunity to provide evidence on Indian self-government to the hon. members of the standing committee and the hon. ex-officio and liaison members as well. This opportunity is most welcome and deeply appreciated.
In this submission I will be dealing with two areas: Indian government and land entitlement.
Before actually discussing these two topics, I would like to draw attention to some specific recommendations that, in reading evidence given by other witnesses across Canada, must be heeded and adhered to by the committee for all intents and purposes:
One, acceptance and confirmation of all our aboriginal and treaty rights.
Two, that these hearings and this consultation process will be ongoing and will not replace the need for more hearings on any resulting legislation.
Three, that there is a need for this committee to continue pressing and to maintain constant vigilance on the recommendations put forward by witnesses of the first nations even after your terms of reference are essentially complete.
Four, that full and formal recognition be given Indian government by Canada as an inherent right, which existed and was practiced by the Indian nations prior to exploration and settlement on this continent and its restitution must be addressed within the Canadian confederation.
Five, that the primary political unit of Indian government is the band and band membership, through which flows the authority to govern and implement all powers of political autonomy through a true and democratic process. I will elaborate more fully on this point later on in this presentation.
Six, that an Indian rights protection office must be established immediately to directly protect, enforce and ratify aboriginal and treaty rights. This point will also be discussed later on this this presentation.
Now, to get back to the two areas of discussion. Indian government: I will outline the historical basis of Indian government.
As was said to this committee many times before, the ancestors of Indian nations practiced their own forms of government from far back in history. There is growing Indian sentiment that we were historically, and continue to be, sovereign nations with our own Indian government. Indian governments are not all the same, because of the differing Indian languages, differing cultures and life-styles and perhaps, today, differing levels of band development from coast to coast in Canada.
Because of the nature of life on the prairies before European settlement, individual bands operated as independent units. They recognized and respected each other’s autonomy. They not only lived and hunted together, but they also: established their own form of government, including the choosing of leadership; defined conditions for membership in bands; regulated economic activity; administered social, spiritual and health needs to members; and enacted and enforced laws within the band and administered justice. In essence, the social, cultural, economic and religious activities of the bands were controlled by the people.
They asserted sovereignty—they were Indian government—stemming from the principle that the will of the people was the basis of their Indian government. No outside group insisted or dictated to them as to how they should run their affairs.
Treaties and early government legislation: The right to Indian government was guaranteed by our ancestors under the spirit and intent of the treaties. Treaty No.4 of 1874 stipulated that the Indian way of life would not be changed but would survive in perpetuity. International law and basic principles of human rights recognize that for a way of life to survive the people concerned must have the right to develop politically in any direction they chose. This treaty guarantee acknowledges the inherent right to self-government, which flows from the choice of the people.
In 1670, King Charles II, cognizant of the threat of war and the aggressive imperialism of many of Europe’s nations, issued instructions to the governor of the North American coloniesto maintain peace and not provocate any Indians at peace with Britain.
These early instructions acknowledged:
One, that Indians possessed a right to lands:
Two, that Indians were to be kept free from provocation; Three, that they were to be maintained as allies;
Four, that they were to be Christianized.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 contained special provisions concerning Indians in newly established colonies. This proclamation—statement—was the first on aboriginal rights and contained three essential elements:
One, certain lands were to be reserved to Indians;
Two, Indians were not to be disturbed in their possession of lands reserved to them:
Three, only the Crown could acquire the interests of the Indians in the lands reserved to them through lawful treaty agreements—ultimate title was in accordance with English law, vested in the Crown.
This proclamation was the origin of treaties and the origin of the trust and special relationship of Indian nations with the Crown. This trust responsibility is further ratified by the treaties.
In 1775, instructions were forwarded to nurture the Indians as allies—invaluable in the event of war between colonial forces. Towards this goal, an Indian department was established under military control and a hierarchy of superintendents, deputy superintendents, commissaries, interpreters, missionaries, etc. This was the basis of British policy for Indians for over 50 years. In 1830, the department was split in two units, Upper and Lower Canada, and placed under civil administration.
This change brought about a new direction in philosophy. The objective was now to educate and civilize the Indian and, by means of treaties, pave the way for settlement of the colony while protecting the Indians’ rights to occupy certain parcels of land.
After the Act of Union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841, a major inquiry was launched for the continued protection of Indians, with special laws dealing with liquor and preventing whites from settling in Indian villages. In 1850, two different acts for Upper and Lower Canada were passed: One, “for the better protection of lands the property of Indians in Lower Canada”; and, two, “An Act for the protection of Indians in Upper Canada from imposition and the property occupied or enjoyed by them from trespass and injury.”
In 1857, “An Act to encourage gradual civilization of Indian Tribes and to amend the laws respecting Indians” was passed. These all served not only to civilize the Indian but to encourage enfranchisement, assimilation and termination of status.
In the meantime, some treaties were signed between the Indian nations and representatives of the Crown in a period where illness was rampant and periodic starvation existed because of depleting buffalo herds. These early treaties were signed by Indians for the cessation of title to the land of the region in return for such things as military protection, goods, money, medicines, hunting and fishing rights throughout the region and more specific rights to smaller areas of land in the region.
In 1859, “An Act Respecting Civilization and Enfranchisement of Certain Indians” was passed. It consolidated all existing legislation dealing with Indians but not land reserved for Indians.
In 1860, “An Act respecting the Management of Indian Lands and Property”, establishing Indian affairs in the Commissioner of Crown Lands department was instituted. The Province of Canada was now the responsible agent of Indian affairs and the imperial government was replaced from this responsibility.
In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was created by the British North America Act. Section 91.24 gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction in relation to Indians and lands reserved for Indians. Administration of Indian affairs was handled through the Department of the Secretary of State. In 1873, it became the responsibility of a branch of the Department of Interior.
In the mid-1800s, the Province of Canada treaties and the post-confederation numbered treaties were relatively complex. The Crown representatives promised annuities, education rights, hunting, fishing and trapping rights, economic, resource, social development rights, health, exemption from taxation, reserve lands and special reserves—such as fishing stations—and the inherent rights to language, religion, culture and self-government. These are neither gifts nor privileges, these are what we term treaty rights, the price the Crown must honour in perpetuity for ceded Indian lands.
In 1876, all laws respecting Indians were again consolidated to coincide with the expansion of the federal government jurisdiction, first to the Maritimes and then to the west. This 1876 law covered three main areas: membership, lands and local government.
In 1880, another act was written. the Indian Advancement Act. A separate department of Indian affairs was established, which continued to exist until 1936, when it became a branch of the Department of Mines and Minerals. In 1946, it came under the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. This 1880 act was the basis for all successive Indian acts until the act was rewritten in 1951.
This new act still protected Indians from alienation, Indian property from depredation, and provided a form of local government and, as well, a system for ending Indian status. It no longer contained some of the restrictive provisions of earlier acts; however, the powers of the minister and the Governor in Council reamined excessive—over half of the act is at their discretion. Today, this is the dilemma to which the Indian nations are subjected and the only legislative document through which Indian affairs and Indian rights are administered.
Numerous attempts to revise the act have been undertaken with generally little success. Indian status is determined solely through the operation of the act and repeal of the act would mean a loss of special rights resulting from aboriginal and treaty positions. In 1978, the National Indian Brotherhood withdrew from a joint Cabinet—National Indian Brotherhood committee because of the government insincerity to distinguish between privileges and Indian rights. More recently, revisions to the Indian Act have been considered in the light of Indian government, and it is only through this philosophy that Indian rights can be significantly defined, improved and recognized.
Having presented a brief chronology of events leading up to the present, it becomes increasingly evident that in the government’s overtures for peace and alliance with Indian nations there evolved outright controls, restrictions, manipulation and eventual genocide within their legislative processes.
Although the post-Confederation and numbered treaties eased the situation somewhat and were a welcome process to the Indian nations, these were considered very lightly, with very limited significance, by the government. The Indian nations, on the other hand, held the treaties in solemnity, always conscious of the presence of the Creator as the primary guiding force.
The declaration of first nations and the aboriginal and treaty rights principles attest to the faith and spirituality of the Indian nations. This declaration also attests to the direction and position of the Indian nations at this point in history.
Not only were the government’s legislative enactments dictatorial, discriminatory and a detraction of Indian rights throughout history, but their policies were of a similar nature. The following will describe briefly Canada’s Indian policy:
One, the de-tribalization policy, 1840: Canada’s first policy was to destroy the Indians’ political, religious, social and educational institutions. This was done by confirming legislation, establishing boarding schools and overt control by Indian agents.
Two, the plan to liquidate Canada’s Indian problem within 25 years, 1947: This plan was presented to Parliament by the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs hearings by Dr. Jennes. The plan called for the liquidation of Indian lands, wholesale integration and enfranchisement of Indians and the diffusion of Indian programs to other departments and the provinces.
Three, the Dr. Harry Hawthorne Report, 1954: Although the report criticized the administration of Indian affairs as paternalistic, the report was confined to Indian nations in British Columbia. It recommended the following:
abandonment of enfranchisement policy;
right to vote in federal and provincial elections;
maintain exemption from federal taxes but recommended payment of provincial taxes;
agency councils of Indians take over full administration of Indian Affairs;
band councils take over local authorities with right to levy taxes and acquire provincial subsidies;
abolish reserves and amalgamate within local municipal authorities with the right for non-Indian residence on reserves;
encourage assimilation by modification of urban policy and enticement of Indians to leave reserve;
Indians attain drinking rights and acquire special policing of reserves.
Four, new Indian policy, 1969: This policy implemented some of the Hawthorne report recommendations. This white paper went further and called for a five-year phase-out of the Department of Indian Affairs with Indian services transferred to the provinces.
Five, local government guidelines, 1975: These guidelines ignored the presence and ongoing development of Indian government and called for the municipalization of Indian lands and institutions. They were basically administrative guidelines
designed to complete the policies of the 1969 white paper and the 1947 plan.
Six, Indian—government relationships policy, 1976: This policy set up a situation which limited Indian government leadership—chiefs and councillors—to mere partners with the civil servants. The legitimate leadership were made accomplices to their own fate, which was to undermine their offices and thereby destroy the voice of Indian governments.
Seven, native policy, federal—provincial documents, 1976: The word Indian now disappears as the implementation of assimilation continues. A number of native policy papers were drafted, which places Indian, Metis and Inuit groups together.
Under these types of policies, the special relationship with the government acquired through treaties by Indian nations cease to exist. Hence, Indian treaty status and Indian rights ratified through treaties will be diluted to the point of dissolution, unless these rights are entrenched and protected in the Canadian Constitution.
Eight, native affairs offices, federal—provincial, 1979: The federal government, in co-operation with the provincial government, established offices to deal with native peoples and native affairs. These native desks unilaterally implement native policy without the consent of the natives involved.
Nine, local government bill, 1981: This bill proposes some fundamental concepts of Indian government, however there is the control factor through devolution or delegation of powers. The will of Indian nations to govern themselves is not recognized by this legislation. Powers over Indians will still emanate from the British North America Act. The proposed bill will not alter that power base and Indian government will not develop in the true sense that Indian nations envision. We do not want municipal-type government, we want to govern ourselves, we want to determine for ourselves our form of government, our right to make and enforce laws.
These are some of the government’s policies, which were developed through studies without due recognition of all the factors encompassing the Indian nations’ aboriginal and treaty rights. Through all this one-sided governmental legislation and policy development—geared to assimilate, eliminate and terminate, improvised to oppress and suppress—the Indian nations have managed to survive and have gained strength and wisdom in the process.
We ask for the opportunity, in view of the history of failure by the government . . . the inherent right to Indian government with all the powers exercised by a government. Indian nations
did not occupy their territory by permission of any other nation and the right of Indians to regulate and control their internal affairs is solely the Indian government’s authority. The laws and policies that have attempted to control this right are incidents of genocide.
We speak of Indian governmental powers; let me cite an example: Six years ago, almost to the day, the Indian government of my band, the Star Blanket Band, ran their election under their own elective system developed by the people. A copy of this law is attached for your information. I have approximately 210 members and 115 electors at the present time. A survey was taken initially to begin the implementation of this band law. The survey was approved by a general band meeting and forwarded to both the on- and off-reserve populace of the band, age l8 years and over.
The respondents were given a deadline for responding to the questionnaire. A group of three university students assisted some of the members in responding to the questions, which were directly related to the actual band law. Tabulations of the responses began. A concensus of opinions resulted. Some options were eliminated to questions whose results could not be determined on consensus and a resurvey was undertaken. Finally, when the resurvey was returned, the results were tabulated and the first official draft of the band law was produced, based on the overall results of both surveys. This initial draft was taken to a general membership meeting for review. Based on recommendations from the membership, a second draft was produced with slight revisions. This second draft was once again taken to the general membership and subsequently ratified and sanctioned as a band law, known as the Star Blanket Indian Band Government Election Act and Regulations. This process took approximately a year to complete in its entirety.
This documentation of actual implementation of Indian Government, Mr. Chairman, is to demonstrate:
One, that time is of essence in the effective development of laws at the band level;
Two, that the need for additional time to adequately address processes in developing workable laws with the involvement of band members is essential to Indian government development;
Three, that this band law is a primary example of true democracy, an actual internal assertion of authority by an Indian government without outside interference;
Four, that this system of creation of legislation is much more acceptable and workable at the band level as opposed to delegated authority or imposed legislation under the Indian Act;
Five, that band laws developed and exercised according to custom may differ from band to band—the important point is that the will of the people is paramount.
Mr. Chairman, I have taken much time in presenting factual evidence, both historical and present-day evidence. The government systems that have come and gone, supposedly for the development of Indian nations, have failed drastically. The Indian enactments and policies of the government are unacceptable and are more of a hindrance and interference in the Indian nations’ quest for self-determination. A new direction is required. Indian nations can be responsible to provide this direction through our concept of Indian government.
The present system is one of administration, because the formal authority of the chiefs and councils is reduced to the passing of by-laws under the Indian Act, developed and passed by an external power. The Indian nations did not intend this to happen when they made treaties. Slowly usurping Indian authority under the guise of implementing treaty provisions, by means of intimidation, the government was able to maintain complete control of every aspect of Indian life and activity on reserves for a long period of time, as the overview of history has demonstrated.
In closing out this portion of the presentation, the basic positions of Indian nations in this province are:
One, recognition of Indian nations’ sovereignty and the right to self-determination according to treaty within their relationship with Canada;
Two, time for Indian nations to develop their own governing constitutions—at the band level, initially, systematically to district, provincial and national levels.
We want this opportunity today, as the Indian nations of yester-year wanted this in treaty negotiations five generations ago. With sound recommendations from this committee in recognizing Indian self-government on our terms within our jurisdiction and control, only then would past injustices be rectified, the road to self-determination become a reality and the control of the destiny of Indian nations will be completely in our hands—in our hands to plan, organize, control, direct, develop and evaluate.
The Canadian Constitution now recognizes both the political and legal status of treaty and aboriginal rights. The jurisdiction at all levels of governments, departments and agencies is now required to recodify their regulations to recognize and respect aboriginal and treaty rights. Indian control of Indian government will result only from the exercise and execution of Indian political rights.
Canada cannot deny the presence of Indian government in the Canadian polity. Canada has attempted to manage Indian Affairs under their systems over the past three centuries with only superficial success. Canada, through their Constitution and legislative processes, must recognize Indian government as a right for Indian nations to exercise, develop, implement, make mistakes, all on their own accord and discretion.
I will now go into the treaty land entitlement rights: In 1867, the federal government of Canada assumed the responsibility for “Indians and lands reserved for Indians” through the British North America Act. At that time Canada consisted only of Upper and Lower Canada and two maritime colonies. The government felt it was critical to Canada’s future to prevent American encroachment into the rich mineral and furtrading area of what is now western Canada. Moving quickly, the government claimed all land west and north of Ontario. In 1870, Canada purchased all land then held by the Hudson’s Bay Company. This acquisition connected the British colony, now British Columbia, to the rest of Canada and created a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To protect its vast territory, the government underwent the construction of a transcontinental railway. It was also felt the railway would provide a new source of trade for eastern goods.
A 1763 Royal proclamation by the British sovereign stated new—found land could be taken in the name of the King, but recognized Indian rights to use the land. Treaties between the Crown and the Indians were required before non-Indian settlement, or developments such as the railway, could begin. The Canadian government, assuming sole responsibility for extinguishing Indian treaty land entitlements, began to settle the treaties in 1871.
Treaties No. 4 and 6, signed in 1874 and 1876 respectively, extinguished most Indian claims in the southern agricultural belt. These treaties cleared the way for the railway to be built. The northern part of what is now Saskatchewan was largely covered by Treaties No. 8, 1899, and 10, 1906. Small portions of Treaties No.2, 1871, and 5, 1875, made up the remaining part of the province.
In most treaties the land allocation was the same: each family of five was to receive one square mile, or 128 acres, per person. Reserve lands were to be chosen by the band but approved by the government.
The 1876 Indian Act established the rules and procedures for government workers to interact with Indian bands. The act
made Indians wards of the state and withdrew many rights. Indian people could not vote, leave the reserve without permission, or enter into contracts. Indians were defined as “non-persons”, who were to be controlled, monitored and directed.
Indian agents were appointed to liaise on behalf of the bands. Band concerns relating to treaty land entitlement were often ignored or overlooked.
When the Province of Saskatchewan was formed in 1905, the federal government retained the administration of lands and resources. This was done for several reasons, including the assurance that land settlements would not be interrupted. By 1930, when the federal government transferred the remaining natural resources and land to the provincial government through the Resources Transfer Agreement, the majority of the province’s good agricultural land had been claimed by non-Indian settlers. Section 10 of the agreement instructed the province to make unoccupied Crown land available to Canada in order to assist the federal government in fulfilling any outstanding Indian land entitlements.
Outstanding land entitlement rights were not realized until research was made into the treaties during the l960s. The federal government wrote to the premiers of the prairie provinces in 1975 stating some Indian bands were still owed additional land under the original treaties. Under Section 10 of the Resources Transfer Agreement, Canada was requesting the provinces’ co-operation to settle all outstanding treaty commitments. Through correspondence with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and the federal government, the Government of Saskatchewan agreed to negotiate the land entitlement claims. These negotiations resulted in the 1977 Saskatchewan formula, which made available all Crown lands for the purpose of treaty land entitlement rights settlements. It is under the conditions of the Saskatchewan formula that land settlement has been made.
To date, 21 bands have been validated. This validation entitles them to additional lands in excess of one million acres. Several other bands are presently seeking validation. The combined acreage owed to all bands as settlement for outstanding land entitlements will equal less than 1% of the province’s total agricultural acreage.
Presently, the work on land entitlement in Saskatchewan is virtually at a standstill, due primarily to the election of a new government. The province has requested a review of validation documents and statistics of all the entitlement bands, which consequently delayed the total transfer process. Another reason for the delay is that the province is in the process of
conducting a province-wide assessment of federal and provincial Crown lands. This is only one-third complete at the moment.
Treaty land entitlement fulfilment under treaties and the Saskatchewan formula—128 acres per person multiplied by the December 1976 population—is a major breakthrough for Indian band governments. Although the process is reoognized as one of great magnitude and length, Indian bands are anxious to actually see the direct transfer of lands to Indian bands. Indian nations are also pleased by the direct recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights to land presently being honoured through the co-operation of the provincial, federal and Indian governments.
As Indian nations negotiate constitutionally in defining and confirming aboriginal and treaty rights and as land transactions become a reality under treaty. it becomes apparent that there is a need for some mechanism to protect those rights. That mechanism, as I pointed out earlier, must be instituted as quickly as possible, so that the defined Indian rights will not be jeopardized.
Indian rights protection office: As Canada becomes theoretically and constitutionally sovereign and independent of the imperial Crown, Indian rights protection within the confines of the Canada Act may not be present. Examples of this are:
One, the imperial Crown will no longer have residual responsibility to protect Indian lands and Indian people;
Two, there is no Indian consent clause on future constitutional amendments, which could affect Indian rights;
Three, provision is made for identification and definition of aboriginal and ‘treaty rights by the first ministers, which does not include Indians;
Four, since the entrenched Indian rights in the Constitution are vaguely worded, elaboration of their meaning will likely be left to the courts;
Five, special Indian status might not survive the effects of the Charter of Human Rights.
In the past, most of the intended legislative and administrative protections for Indian nations have proven impotent in their treatment of land claims—entitlements, resource development and redress, property and territorial jurisdiction, treaty enforcement and Crown trustemhip of these rights. Because of these problems. an institution must be established to protect Indian rights against further attrition. Details for the establishment of this office have been considered by the Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
This concludes my presentation at this time.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Chief Starr. Would you be ready to accept some questions from the committee? Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank Mr. Starr for his presentation, especially for the historical background that it gave. I think this is helpful.
One comment: My understanding of the Jennes plan for termination is that this was a presentation that was made to the standing committee in 1946, and was not something that the standing. committee itself recommended to government. That is something I want to check more surely, because I think our government has enough on its conscience already, without having something that it did not actually endorse.
I would like to go on to the question of land entitlement. I found your summary there especially helpful. In an editorial in the Regina Leader Post on December 10 of last year, it says that there is a pledge from Grant Devine that the government will take a position on the principle of the formula before the year end. Has the Saskatchewan government taken a position in favour of, or in opposition to, the Saskatchewan formula yet?
Chief Starr: As far as I know, their position is to honour the Saskatchewan formula. We have been advised by the intergovernmental affairs people of Saskatchewan that their policy was to honour the 1976 formula—or 1977 formula.
Mr. Manly: So what is involved right now is a review of validation documents and statistics. What does that involve, Mr. Starr?
Chief Starr: That involves your outstanding treaty land entitlement statistics and the history that is involved in that process of validation. The population statistics, as to the amount of land that was to be received, are all documented, based on first payments of treaty annuities. From the validation of those population statistics, it becomes apparent that more land is owed to a band, or whatever—when they take the membership statistics from away back to the first payment of treaties.
Mr. Manly: You did a great deal of work establishing those statistics in the past few years. Has the government given any reason why it feels it has to review those statistics now?
Chief Starr: I believe, at least they informed me . .. For instance, 1 have to pay . . . outstanding treaty land entitlement myself, my band has. They want to examine those validation statistics, they tell me, to make sure that . . . Bands have been receiving, in treaty land entitlement, very poor land. Their reason for wanting to examine those validations was so that
they could give better land and assess the whole situation for transfer of land, for a transfer with economic potential—I guess that is what they are looking at. They told me that that was their reason for examining those validation statistics.
Mr. Manly: Do you agree with that basic premise, that the land that had been set aside was basically poor land and, therefore, there is a need to take a second look at this whole question? Do you feel that this will be to your advantage?
Chief Starr: Yes, I personally feel that it would be to our advantage.
Mr. Manly: Thank you for that.
Just one further question and that relates to the Star Blanket Band Law. Could you, very briefly, outline to the committee how this band law differs from the standard Indian Act provisions for bands; what advantages this has provided for your people since it was enacted; and what additional powers need to be recognized for you to be fully effective?
Chief Starr: I think the establishment of our band law with the involvement of the people was one of the reasons why. . . There are a lot of loopholes under the present system in the Indian Act related to elections; nobody here has to be told how much difficulty we have had under the system of the Indian Act. That was the reason why we established our election regulations. They were based on the wishes of the people. And there was the fact that there were so many appeals under the Indian Act system: the residency was not clearly defined; under the Indian Act, non-residents are not allowed to vote in band elections.
We wanted to rectify some of those blatant setups under the Indian Act system of elections. We wanted both our off-reserve population and on-reserve population to have the privilege of voting in our elections. Also, any appeals procedure had to go to the minister. To me, that is just control and monitoring people—manipulation. We have our own appeals procedure right within our own government regulations; appeals are heard by a council of elders, which is appointed by our band council. It is all an internal process. We like it that way, because the minister’s authority is now limited and the authority of the chief and council and the people themselves is clearly recognized under our system.
Mr. Manly: This system is also recognized by the department at the present time. Is that correct?
Chief Starr: Yes, it is.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Manly. Mr. Chénier.
Mr. Chénier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do not have many questions—I have one. I think the presentation is excellent and I would like to commend Chief Starr for the excellent work. I think the historical part will certainly enlighten us.
My question concerns the Indian rights protection office, in point number live, where you say:
Special Indian Status might not survive the effects of the Charter of Human Rights.
It seems to me that I read a report this week that, at the ministerial discussions, it has been indicated that there could be a possibility of excluding native people from the present Charter of Rights and having a special charter for the native population. Do you feel that that would be a good idea? Secondly, because of the great diversity of bands across the country, do you think it would be possible to have an Indian charter of rights that would apply to all Indians in Canada?
Chief Starr: I think it is a good idea. Because of the treaties the special relationship was there and because we were the first nations. I think the royal proclamation of 1763 recognized that fact, that Indians had special rights and had a special relationship with the government. I think that is a good process, if we have a charter of rights that is geared toward the Indian people.
Mr. Chénier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Chénier. Roberta.
Ms Roberta Jamieson: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Chief Starr. I want to follow on what Mr.Chénier has asked, and ask this of Chief Starr: If such a charter were developed, who do you think should develop it?
Chief Starr: I believe it should be developed possibly through the Assembly of First Nations, at least the initial work should be done at that level.
Ms Jamieson: But you see it as having full Indian involvement.
Chief Starr: That is right, yes.
Ms Jamieson: As you know, that has not been the history. Even at the meeting over the last couple of days there was some concern about equal participation.
I see the Star Blanket Band Law and I have known about this for a few years. I wonder if you have plans to go on, or whether you are now developing further laws.
Chief Starr: We are in the process of developing land-use policies, housing policies, but we have been stymied time and time again by the department’s saying that we should go under provincial laws and the department does not have any policies with regard to lands, or with regard to housing, or anything like that.
In my experience as chief, I believe it should be our right, I guess, to develop those policies and laws. But, as I said, there is the time factor. It took me a little better than a year to develop
just one policy. If you want to involve all the people . . . My band is relatively small; there are other bands with 1,000 people or more and the process is long to develop laws that are going to reflect the membership.
We could develop laws, but for too long the councils and the department have had that very bad name of developing policies that we did not really want to accept. So, rather than going through that process, we feel that with anything that has to do with land, anything that is commonly owned at the band level, the people have to be involved in the process, so that we could establish policies that are going to be reflective of the people’s wants and needs and aspirations.
We are working that way, involving the people, but as I said, it is a long process and very difficult to handle—very hard. There are so many opinions that one has to keep in mind all the time.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I notice, also, that in your act, in the law that you have, you have accepted the registration list maintained by the registrar under the Indian Act. Are you looking to develop your own citizenship laws as well?
Chief Starr: That is right, hopefully, that can happen. But to develop citizenship policies there are certain common grounds that people have to identify with bands. There are common grounds from band to band.
I will give you an example of that. If, in the case of an Indian woman’s marrying outside the reserve, say with a non-Indian, I recognize that person at my band level, it would be conflicting if another band did not recognize that person, on the other hand. There are certain common things we have to take when we look at membership, there are certain common grounds that we want to establish. Somebody has to do that work, I do not know who. Right now, under the Indian Act . . . it is discriminatory, I know, under the present system.
To address that whole area effectively, there has to be some start somewhere. We were trying to take over the membership function at our band level because, again, we have a small band and we can do it. But the fact remains that if we are going to do it under the present Indian Act we do not want any part of it, because it is discriminatory as it is. If we were to take over the membership function—I think that is a reality, it is going to happen anyway, the Indian people are going to attain more Indian government, That is what I am saying.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I am very happy to see that the department has recognized the Star Blanket Band Law, because in other areas bands who have taken similar measures have been told by the department that they have had no authority under the Indian Act to go out and do things like this. It seems to me that you have taken the bull by the horns,
asserted Indian government and gone well beyond the Indian Act, almost at a constitutional level.
There is one other question I wanted to ask you. It is to help clarify something for the committee. I notice in your brief, I think it is on page 7, you say that under the new policies . . .
Under these types of policies
—the native policy, the native affairs office, and all these directions:
the Special relationship with Government acquired through Treaties by Indian Nations ceases to exist. Hence, Indian Treaty Status and Indian Rights ratified through Treaties will be diluted to the point of dissolution unless, these rights are entrenched and protected in the Canadian Constitution.
This all points towards the government policy of implementing assimilation by creating a new category and putting Indians into it, whether it be natives or, some would say, aboriginal people, even. In this, it seems you are making the statement that the rights of first nations are being diluted by making them equal to all people with any degree of Indian ancestry, no matter how little, or no matter what their tie is with the first nation land base or with the first nation community.
I wonder if you would expand on this and explain to the committee why you think that is a problem, because I do not think everyone fully understands that. Many people think the first nation’s position in this is interpreted to be against Metis rights or against non-status rights, whatever those rights might be. I do not think that is so, but I wonder if you would speak to that point.
Chief Starr: Okay, thank you, Roberta.
With regard to the special rights, I believe, as I pointed out in the historical documentation I presented, there is a special relationship with governments and it was recognized a long time ago. With the coming of the white man there had to be a special relationship set up because of our first nation status. The policies that are coming down from the government under their systems are diluting those rights, because of the control factor, again; Indian governments’ not having authority within their own bands dilutes the chiefs and council’s positions. Their policies are geared to assimilation; they are geared to wipe off, to terminate, reserves. All those people who do studies on Indian problems do not take into account that the first nations have aboriginal and treaty rights. They do not say that, they say: Let us make them all equal in Canada and forget about special status, But that special status, according to our treaties, has to be recognized and confirmed in any type of legislation that comes down—those rights have to be entrenched in there.
That is my feeling on that. Most of the policies that come out, as I said, are Just diluting those special rights we have with Canada that were recognized in treaty signings.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Chief Starr. Is it fair, then, to say that the fear is that from first nations, with all those rights, all of a sudden you are Indians, next thing you know you are natives, next thing you know you are ethnics, next thing you know you are Canadians, there are no more first nations; you areggoing along that trail, the trail that first nations, or the Indian people, do not want to go on? Is that a fair understanding of your position?
Chief Starr: That is a pretty close assessment, yes.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Chief Starr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Roberta. That last question tempted some thought.
Thank you very much, Chief Starr. I see no further questions. Walter Gordon . . . I am sorry, Mr. Chartier. I would like to welcome Mr. Chartier to the table. This is your home area Clem, I guess you should be welcoming me. If you have a question, please . . .
Mr. Clem Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr, Starr, Mr. Gordon. I should just make a premise that I am representing the Native Council of Canada, which is made up of Metis and non-status Indians within Canada. I am also the vice-president of the Association of Metis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan. I guess, to set the record straight, the Association of Metis and Non-Status Indians and the other two Metis and non-status Indians organizations on the prairies are no longer a part of the Native Council of Canada. These are quite trying times, because of the Constitution, which was imposed, creating further difficulty in the native community or the aboriginal community. Nevertheless, I do have to fulfil my role with the Native Council of Canada until there is a replacement. On that particular point, my purpose is to represent the interests of people currently known as non-status Indians by virtue of the Indian Act—which most people are not in favour of.
You made an interesting comment with respect to the native policy federal—provincial documents of 1976. We are totally sympathetic to that statement. We, I should say the Metis people, have no inclination to state that all aboriginal people are the same. We recognize and respect the fact that the aboriginal peoples are different, have different rights and want to see those rights recognized—respective rights recognized-and entrenched.
In that connection, I have been, on and off, speaking to Chief Sanderson, and one of the things we have been discussing is the possibility of entrenching in the Constitution separate charters for the Indian, the Inuit and the Metis, where the respective charters would set out respective rights. You were in favour, I believe, of there being some form of
charter of Indian rights, that possibly could be the Indian schedule. What is your feeling with respect to that approach?
Chief Starr: I believe we have had some discussions here in Saskatchewan regarding that position under the present—as I believe it is called—Constitution Act, that recognition should be given but should be separate—not treating aboriginal peoples in one lump, but separating those things out and saying the Metis people have these rights. But there could be some common grounds that we could work on also regarding . . . Then as to the special rights for Indians. . . I am saying that our rights are being diluted. I alluded to that point when I answered Roberta’s question.
We are of the position that the Inuit, the Metis and the Indians should not be lumped together under that charter. Under the present Constitution, the way it is, we want separate things recognized, separate entities, because of the differing rights we have. For instance, our treaties are ratified and the Inuit and Metis probably do not have any treaties. We are basing our position on our treaties. That is because of our first nations nationhood.
But as negotiations take place, like this Constitution meeting coming up… I hope it will not be a case of one meeting and that is it. It has to be an ongoing process—and I pointed that out—to establish those different areas of how we look at it as native people.
Mr. Chartier: Given that situation, the issue of the Metis, I think, is quite clear. The people who are Metis will be able to identify as being Metis and so will the Inuit. I think the problem comes—and you addressed it, in a sense, with respect to your band by-law—the issue will be aconcerning those people who lost their status, the non-status Indians. Just speaking for your own Indian government, your own reserve, how would you see a way of possibly getting around the issue of those people who have lost their status, if there is to be a separate schedule for Indians? Do you see that there is a possibility of working something out? I-Iow do you view that whole issue?
Chief Starr: We speak of Indian government development at the band level and I know that on my band many people have lost their status. I know I have two non-status Indians but they live as Indians on my reserve. They were taken off the list; their mothers were from my band. Today I do not want to go to court with it, because it is going to cost me money and I do not like the courts’ deciding who should be a member of my band. I do not want that. I want a negotiation process where I can fully identify that these people are my people—they have been here and their mothers were Indians. These people I was telling you about, these two individuals, today have the same services and everything that we provide, yet their status is . . . They are not band members, yet they get all the services and the housing and whatever is provided.
That is a situation that has bothered me for a long time, that these people live like Indians. I think in the final analysis, as we define our citizenship from a band standpoint, a lot of those non-status people could be brought off the list of our bands, I believe it has to be the Indian government that decides that.
Mr. Chartier: Once again, through discussions with Chief Sanderson over the past several months, we have addressed this same issue. Of course, it is the feeling—and Chief Ahenakew as well as Mr. Sanderson did state it in front of this committee at some point in time—that the Indian nations, at least in this part of the country, do not recognize the Indian Act’s definition of who their membership are; that all Indians are Indians, whether you are a non-status or a status Indian you are still a member of the Indian nation and still a member of the original treaty-making people, but it would be left to each individual Indian government to decide on their membership. That is, I guess, exactly what you are saying. But Mr. Sanderson also said that basically it is a political process that should be entered into between Indian governments and those people who have lost their status, but there would be a willingness to enter into those discussions
Given that sort of atmosphere, and from the honest statements that you make, I think probably thme situations could be resolved now.
With that I really do not have any further questions. I would just like to thank you for your comments.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Chartier.
Seeing no further questions, I would like to thank you, Chief Starr and Mr. Gordon, for your presentation. It was well received. There were some good questions.
I would like now to take about a five-minute break as we ask the next witnesses to come to the table. There will be Chief Standingready—I am sorry, I am mistaken, we have not heard from Mr. Gordon. You have a presentation to put before the committee, is that correct? Mr. Gordon.
Elder Walter Gordon (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Today is a good day. I can see that you are all happy and, according to the prayer this morning to open up this meeting, I will go into my presentation with a clear mind, a kind heart. Let us go.
We have before us the Union Jack, world indigenous nations, the Declaration of First Nations and the Canadian fiag. What my presentation is going to be about is Indian cultural sovereignty, Indian government, the spiritual perspective. I think what I will be saying you already know—what sovereignty is all about.
Sovereignty is everything you can feel is alive and vibrant, pulsating and creating, developing integral patterns weaved together in a strong human fabric. That strong Indian fabric is Indian identity and Indian dignity. They are people with a
language, land, natural resources, principles, leadership, customs, traditions, religion, spiritual philosophies, institutions, virtues, morals, values, conventions, doctrines, responsibilities, domestic protocols and international protocols.
Basic and fundamental to all living beings, which people have been given by the Supreme Being, which must be paid the highest and greatest respect, without which there could be no life upon the face of this great mother earth, are the sun, the water, the air and mother earth, the core of our very existence upon which Indians, as a people, anchor our Indian sovereignty and our Indian governments in respect to the four great laws of our universe. The Great Spirit is in our government and our government is in the Great Spirit:
. . . for as long as the sun shall shine, the rivers flow and the grass grows.
Incidentally, that is what the treaties are based on, the total spiritual perspective of all that.
Indian culture, Indian sovereignty and Indian government have not separated government from religion, nor do they ever want to. Since the coming of the European cultures, causing terrific open conflicts and insidious impacts on Indian culture, the culture of the Indian is still there on sacred Indian reserve lands which they reserved for themselves to continue to live their own style of life. That Indians did not develop the kind of writing in use in these modern times does not mean that they were not in control in their Indian nations situation.
European and Roman Christian sectarianism regarded the Indian cultures as evil. What they did not understand they feared. What they feared they sought to destroy—to destroy from the pulpit through dictatorial legislation and enforcement by a far richer and more powerful alien government.
Each culture developed its own civilizations in its own way, setting into place its own governing body for its own people, governing bodies unequally complex to suit the culture that devised them.
The clash of cultures between the European Christian whites and the Indians of North America will stop only when the white culture retreats from its present position of committing cultural genocide.
All laws line out from the spiritual source to the family, to the community, to the nation, in respect for the community’s leadership and respect for the knowledge and wisdom of its elders to make the laws by which the community must live. The communitim of the nation meet in general assembly once every year, first to perform their spiritual purification of the soul and of the mind in order to review the laws by which they live, revise and delete to the best interests of their people’s well-being and survival.
Before the European encroachment on our America, our peoples had inhabited this continent for thousands of years. We possessed our distinctive languages. cultures, legal and social systems. We were a religious people with strong spiritual values and virtues insofar as we believed in the Great Spirit who had, in all his supreme goodness, fashioned the world and instilled in his people a sense of respect for all created things. Indians have always nurtured a great respect for nature. We have emphasized the need for conservation, good husbandry and, above all, sharing and co-operating with others in pursuit of a more abundant life. To view the world holistically, man is part of the natural order in which he was related to all other beings and things. Perhaps others are inclined to regard themselves more as the unqualified masters of nature than we are inclined to do.
European-derived cultures tend more to analyse concepts and proceed by abstract deductive reasoning than we have done. Such cultures tend to compartmentalize problems whereas we prefer to see things in terms of their entire context, in wholes rather than in parts.
This cultural difference may even have consequences for the new constitutional order. Section 25 of the charter emphasizes that the guarantee of certain rights in the charter shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Among these rights and freedoms, surely, there must be one to preserve the best elements in our cultural heritage, all of which are interdependent and interact with each other in a total order.
Indian peoples have always had a close relationship with their lands, which they have never freely regarded as alienable commodities to be bought or sold like pieces of merchandise or horse trading. It is difficult to communicate exactly to peoples of other cultures what this bond consists of. We have never regarded the European so-called discovery of America as ever conferring a right on the discoverers to take our lands without our consent.
Our rights have a prescriptive origin. They have arisen independently of any grant or cession by others through our actual habitation of the land over many centuries through hunting, fishing, trapping, cultivation, and through our own self-governing institutions. We consider that our aboriginal and treaty rights have been diminished or eradicated in many instances without our consent. We have been victims of a historical and constitutional process which was not of our making which has gravely undermined our rights and which we now look to the new Constitution at this time of renewal to restore. The relationship between the British Crown and the Indian peoples has been summed up in the following words by Chancellor Kent:
The colonial authorities uniformly negotiated with the Indians and made and observed treaties with them as sovereign communities, exercising the right of free deliberation and action; but, in consideration of protection, owing a
qualified subjection, in a national capacity, to the British Crown.
The fundamental inequity here is that at the beginning of our negotiations with the colonial powers we were treated virtually on a plane of sovereign equality since we were needed in military alliances against rival European states. At the culmination of the process we were treated in a most demeaning manner with solemn treaties being likened more or less to contracts. An international treaty, of course, can be altered only by the parties thereto by mutual consent, whereas a contract can be altered or abrogated by ordinary statute. We have had, accordingly, scant protection for our rights.
At the negotiations of the treaty Lieutenant Governor Morris for the Crown of England: “What I have offered does not take away your way of life; you will have it then as you have it now, and what I offer is put on top of it.” Morris again, in treaties: The Crown in Right of an Indian Reserve, the Coronation Oath, Her Majesty to rule her dominions according to their laws and their customs and their traditions. Morris: “To show that you are officers of the Crown we shall issue a suitable suit of clothes to show you are officers of the Crown, one uniform for the chief, which shall be special, and uniforms to the headmen of the chiefs. We shall recognize four headmen to each band and shall pay them all a salary. We shall issue her Majesty’s flag to fiy over your assemblies when you are conducting business for the respective bands, and on those important occasions we expect you to dress up in your uniform. We shall issue you each a medal with the Queen’s picture on it. In addition, you will receive on parchment the scroll of the treaties.”
Chief: “Is it true that you are bringing the Queen’s kindness? Is it true that you are going to give my child what he may use? Is it true that you are going to give the different bands the Queens kindness? It is true that you bring the Queens hand? Is it true that you are bringing the Queen’s power?”
Lieutenant Governor Morris, for the Queen: “Yes, to those who are here and those who are absent, such as she has given us.”
Chief: “Is it true that my child will not be troubled for what you are bringing him?”
Morris: “The Queen’s power will be around him.”
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Gordon.
Elder Gordon: That is not all that Morris promised. He also promised that the Queens ear would be open to the Indians at all times. Now the Department of Indian Affairs is not the Queen’s car by a long shot. Your Prime Minister and your Parliament as a whole deal with your nation’s business, and if I have grievances against your nation that is the Queen’s ear that should be open to us at all times.
Morris: “The Queen’s government will carry out the terms of the treaty with absolute good faith and with the utmost exactness. On each reserve the Queen will put an agent to see to it that the stipulations of the treaties will be carried out.”
Another stipulation: the review of the progress of the treaties once each year where the Indian population shall be paid $5 each to show as a symbol of good faith. That is not treaty money; that is a spiritual symbol to guarantee that that is being carried out forever as long as the sun shall shine.
“The Queen will make strong laws to protect the Indians to preserve their way of life. These laws will also be in the language of the Indian people.”
I must remind you we are a nation surrounded completely by another nation which can take legal, economic—name the sanctions; they could take them. They surround us. We are not part of the Canadian mix, the Canadian melting pot of foreign cultures. We are different, and the meaning of the treaties is to remain different, to remain a distinct people.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Gordon. Do you accept some questions on your brief?
Elder Gordon: Certainly.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Chénier: No, I do not have any questions now, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Just one. I would like to thank Mr. Gordon for his brief.
Nations all over the world assert their sovereignty; but, increasingly, in a world where one nation pushes against another because of a growing world population and diminishment of resources, it sometimes becomes necessary for nations to agree to limit their authority. For example, we have tried to do that in some respects with the United Nations, and many people feel that if we want to have world peace we are going to have to limit our authority as nations, our sovereignty as nations, much more than we have ever done before.
I wonder if you as members of Indian nations have ever considered that possibility and if you see that as something that needs to be done, or if you feel that in the 1980s the primary need is to have your sovereignty re-recognized by the Canadian nation.
Elder Gordon: The prescription of who will be in the Indian nation and who will be outside of the Indian nation is found within the treaties.
I have an Indian treaty rights handbook. It tells you the powers of that nation and what that nation can do. The Indian reserves are capable and have the power to determine the kind
of education that they want and devise that, what the social orders are going to be, what their elections are going to be and what their membership is going to be and why it should be. However, within the treaties there is a prescription that no white man can ever become an Indian and live on an Indian reserve.
It also determined, because of the conflicts between the Métis and the white government, that they were given a choice to become part of the Indian nation and get into that treaty. If they did not, they would be counted elsewhere.
Then that prescription of who could be an Indian and who could not be an Indian. When a woman marries a non-Indian she does not lose the right of being an Indian. That is emphasized by receiving a red ticket that she still remained and participated within that nation and was within treaty parameters. That was the prescription, and anyone enfranchising, people who call themselves non-status Indians today, received a blue ticket to show that they were once Indian within treaty and now they have commuted, taken enfranchisement and acquired citizenship within Canada.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Any further questions?
Ms Jamieson: I just have one question, Mr. Chairman. First of all, this is the first such brief that we have received, and I am very, very thankful to have it as part of the evidence.
I wonder also, Senator Gordon, if you would like to table the treaty handbook that you have with you with the committee.
Elder Gordon: It is a bit of a surprise that you are coming as a committee to deal with Indian people and you have not their fundamental principles of what the treaty agreement was all about. However, the federation, I suppose, will gladly give you a copy.
Ms Jamieson: We do have it. I personally have it, but I would like it tabled as a matter of the record so we can use it for the report, Senator, if you agree.
Elder Gordon: Can you give them a book of this? You see, this is not mine; I just borrowed it.
Mr. Brass: Yes.
Ms Jamieson: My question is this, Mr. Chairman: Often when particularly the non-Indian public hear Indian people talk about cultural sovereignty, spiritual sovereignty, especially the word “sovereignty” bothers them—sometimes even “self-determination”—because they think that Indian nations when they are saying that are saying they want to separate. They get shades of Quebec in the back of their minds and they think Indians want to dismember the country of Canada. I would like to give you an opportunity to answer that on the record, Senator. How do you feel about that, and is that what you are saying?
Elder Gordon: What I am saying is the Constitution is people’s business because the Constitution is for people. Britain, for instance, does not have a written constitution. It evolved in the same way as Indian people so you may be able to call them aboriginal people. It is discontented people who cruise around all over the world and who go out and create documentation that they call a written constitution to emphasize who they are and just coming into or trying to become a itatioin. All nations are founded on the ingredients that I have iste .
Am I heading in the right direction?
Ms Jamieson: Well, I do not presume to tell you how to address… You head in any direction you like. I would like you to, if you could, speak to this fear that non-Indians have that when Indians use the English word “sovereignty” they are talking about something that non-Indians should feel threatened by, that Indians want to destroy Canada, that they want to break it up into all kinds of little pieces. That, to me, is not what Indian nations are saying; but I would like your comments on the record, if you will.
Elder Gordon: This is not what Indian people are saying. Sovereignty over land has shrunk to the dimensions it now is in and we have total control within those defined boundaries with all of its resources inside there. The Canadian people have the rest because of the treaties. They are the greatest beneficiaries as a result of the treaties, and yet the promise is made as a share in those resources for all time to provide at their cost education, medical services, educationally applied arts and sciences, which this nation that calls itself Canada never knew about and afterwards followed and brought up those institutions.
Sovereignty has shrunk now to the dimensions of our Indian reserves, and why should white people feel threatened about it? They surround us. They should be happy at this time because none of the treaty economy sits there on the reserve and is accumulated on the reserve. None of it ever has. When I buy cigarettes I buy them off the reserve. When I buy anything it is off the reserve. They have enriched the municipalities through education. The schools promised in treaty to be on the reserve are now outside of the reserve. All of the economy but treaties has been deflected off the reserve to enrich the municipalities and the provincial government.
When they say I do not pay tax, I buy everything off the reserve and therefore I pay tax. ‘
I do not think they should feel threatened about the situation today. How could they possibly feel threatened, unless it is a false front because of the economy that the municipalities are getting surrounding an Indian reserve, that they do not want to lose it.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Senator. I think you have clarified two things for us; one in response to Mr. Manly’s question, I think, that Indians are in fact willing to share as interdependent nations and realize the need for that according to the treaties and in a harmonious manner.
Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Roberta, your request to have the document tabled has already been done. It was done on December 16 by the Saskatchewan Federation when they were before us so it is available as an exhibit to any member who wishes a copy of it.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Elder Gordon: I have one or two things to say. Our chiefs have jurisdiction extending off the reserve where their membership is concerned, where many things are concerned that ought to be dealt with by your government to acknowledge these jurisdictions. What I have just presented to you is Indian sovereignty in relation to all treaty areas.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Chartier, do you have a short question?
Mr. Chartier: I just want to make a comment and then a very short question.
I say to Elder Gordon that your brief is very comprehensive and explains very well the essence of Indianness and Indian nationhood and sovereignty. I was going to get into the question of Mr. Manly; but it has been well dealt with, and in fact I would say that the Indian nations of North America by treaty have, I think, probably been the most generous people in the community of nations at sharing what you have.
But, just to clarify the record, I think you made a comment that under prescription, under treaty, Metis were given the choice. I would like to maybe clarify that and see what your opinion is. I think in Lieutanent Governor Morris’ report he says that there are some Métis who live with and as Indians, and those we allow to enter into treaty, but for the other ones I guaranteed the Indian chiefs that Her Majesty would deal with her children in an equally fair manner at some other point in time. Is that correct?
Elder Gordon: I suppose so, yes.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. I see no further questions.
I am sorry I almost missed that excellent brief. Mr. Brass informed me . . . I also apologize I was late, and that was one of the reasons I did not realize that it was not read.
Thank you very much for your presentations.
I would now like to call a short five—minute break. I would like all the members of the committee to meet with me just briefly right behind here for a few minutes, and we will then,
in five minutes, hear presentation four, and I will have Mr. Brass bring forward the witnesses.
The Vice-Chairman: Order, please.
I will now call on the first witness, Chief Standingready, to begin his presentation.
Chief Brian Standingready (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for giving us the opportunity to make our presentation.
No doubt in your travel across Canada in meeting with the various Indian organizations and Indian representatives you have heard and will continue to hear concerns dealing with the Department of Indians Affairs on Indian issues regarding Indians.
At this time, rather than go through the routine of making accusations, name-calling, criticizing, etc., we would like to start our presentation where everybody seems to leave off, and that is to make recommendations to the committee. To do this, we will show you two completely different situations in our dealings with the Department of Indian Affairs and recommendations in dealing with these situations.
Our presentation will be dealt with in two parts: number one, the Department of Indian Affairs; number two, the situation regarding fraudulent land surrenders in Saskatchewan.
To give you a little background on the presentation that was circulated to the committee members entitled The Reorganization of the Departmenl of Indian Affairs, some time back the Yorkton district chiefs, which consist of the chiefs from eight reserves in the Yorkton area, came to realize that there were a lot of problems that had to be addressed.
Regarding the programs and services that are supposedly delivered by the Department of Indian Affairs, we recognized that there was inefficiency which had to be dealt with. In November 1981, we formed a committee consisting of members from the eight chiefs, one representative from the Yorkton district, the district manager of the Department of Indian Affairs. one representative from the regional office of the Department of Indian Affairs. The committee was mandated to look into the situation as far as programs and services to the eight bands were concerned in the area of program delivery and to come up with a plan of action for a five-year program to carry out some of the recommendations in implementing the services and programs that had to be delivered to the bands.
Following some of the numerous meetings we had with the committee, we came up with a proposal to the district chiefs of a five-year program. We will go into it in detail a little further
on when we discuss the charts that we have. Following the numerous meetings that we had, the recommendations that we had that were presented to the chiefs, we came up with a proposed structure different from what the structure was at the district level, the new structure that you see pinned up on the board. So in April 1982, after meeting with the Regional Director of the Department of Indian Affairs, Dr. Owen Anderson, and also the director of operations, Emil Korchinski, we signed a five-year agreement. There was an understanding between the regional office, the district office and the Yorkton district chiefs at that signing that there was a need for a change within the organization itself. Also, we have identified funding in the amount of approximately $250,000 to cover the costs to implement the program.
Following that historical signing, we hired what are termed band development officer trainees at the district level, starting off with my band, the White Bear Band, in June 1982. The rest of the seven band development officers were hired in July 1982.
A training program was drawn up. A series of training workshops were held and are still being held. University credit classes are in the works. All the training centres are on the different areas that the bands deal with on a daily basis: economic development, the different departments within the government and the different programs that the government has to offer.
The program really emphasizes the training aspect as far as the trainees are concerned. The way the structure is set up and the five-year programs are in place it is a gradual takeover of some of the programs that were supposed to have been professionally delivered by the Department of Indian Affairs which we felt were not being delivered up to the efficiency they were supposed to. So the recommendations that were made by the committee were from the grass-roots level, made right from each individual band and also to the chiefs at the district level. It was quite opposite from what the department or the Government of Canada usually does: makes policy at headquarters and goes on down the line right down to the bands. In this aspect, we are making recommendations from the grassroots level right to the headquarters or wherever the programs are being delivered from.
I just want to stress, too, that the changes we made are structural only, having to do with the reorganization of the department. Further on down in the works they are planning to get into the policy development of all programs, where we will make the recommendations. Eventually, we hope to have the authority to make those policies at the band level.
On taking over some of these programs, as far as the administration of programs is concerned, we also do not forget the department’s or the government’s obligation, the trust responsibility and trust obligation that they have to the bands.
Before I get into the charts, I would like to bring to your attention some of the concerns, some of the situations, the scene that the committee has seen and the recommendations to you and also to the Department of Indian Affairs. I will just review them briefly.
We found that the department has too much control. The bands are told what to do and what not to do. Program direction stems from the department instead of the band. The system is outdated and it is costly. The organization does not relate to the aspirations of Indian leaders and band membership. The organization is program rather than people oriented. The system promotes dependency on the department instead of self-reliance. Departmental structure does not lend itself to band self-determination. Chiefs receive little compensation for the amount of work done. Bands are unable to pay staff reasonable wages; for example, many have not received a raise in years. Also, bands want to be trained in the management of their own lands,
Regarding funding, the available resources do not match band priorities. There is a lack of funding flexibility. The resource distribution is unrealistic and, also, for the dollar we do not get what the dollar is worth.
Also, in dealing with procedural problems, they are lengthy, time consuming and cumbersome because of all the paperwork that has to be done. Allocations are uncontrolled and uncoordinated when coming from other agencies. Also, bands want to collect their own lease revenues and manage their own revenue accounts.
These are some of the concerns that the committee have noted. Also, we came up with some comments on recommendations on the operational structure of the department so there would be a more efficient use of human resources, financial resources and time and also so it would be responsive to the needs of the bands and to the departmental goal of person-year cuts.
Also, to provide a more professional atmosphere and better quality of service; to provide the capability to administer the trust responsibility and mandate to the department; to improve communications between programs; to encourage individual staff productivity; to encourage a team approach and an organization where it would better fit the district chiefs. This would clarify roles and responsibility at the district level. It would provide a better service with a 26% reduction in staff, from 46 to 34, at the district level. In this way, stagnation is relieved and the district becomes more responsive to the changing needs of the bands. It also eliminates false middle management positions or paper shufflers.
Those are parts of the committees report to the district chiefs and some of the recommendations in dealing with the problem that we are having.
Before we went into the particular structure that we have proposed here we had some options that we had to deal with. One was to eliminate the district office completely and have all the programs and services rendered from the regional office; one was to create a service centre to replace the district office; and the third one was to strengthen the district office to the point where it could function more efficiently through a revised organizational structure. The third option is what we have selected.
I hope that gives the committee members some of the background of the situation that we are dealing with, and hopefully we are progressing in some orderly fashion towards carrying out the programs and services to bands in a more efficient manner than what has been happening in the past.
With that, I would like to be allowed to request Mr. Norman Stevenson, the Yorkton district chiefs rep, to further expand on the organizational structure on the charts.
Mr. Norman Stevenson (Representative, Yorkton District Chiefs, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you very much, Brian.
I think before I go to the charts I would like to explain a couple of things that Brian might have left out. I think this is a Yorkton district chiefs’ project, but I think we are on the same wavelength across Saskatchewan regarding the concerns of Indian affairs. It is just that the Yorkton district chiefs took the concept and carried it out, and I think I will be explaining that through the form of charts. You will realize what Brian just explained when I go to the charts, why we went ahead with this program.
I think mainly I will be explaining the fiscal structure. I will not be going into programs or policies. I think generally we all know here, before we go into something as big as policy and changing policies and carrying programs, that you are going to have to have that basic foundation; and what we are trying to create here with our fiscal structure is a basic foundation.
I think over a period of five years we intend to carry this out, and when I get to the charts you will know what I mean. Basically, we want our foundation before we go into programs and policy development. I think from past experiences . . . We visited a few places that went strictly into programs and policies, and they ran into a lot of problems.
So, with that, I will get up—I notice the bulletin board is facing the crowd, but I will have the charts in front of you and I will explain to you.
Another thing: operationally this has to have, basically, two things. It has to come from the grass roots—Brian touched on that—and it has to have a good communication level and good unity within the district itself. I am very pleased we have that,
and I am very pleased we have that communication level with the district office and the regional office. I think that has to be there, and we stressed that when we started this operation.
Also, after I finish the charts I will do a review of our 10 months of operation, the problems we have been having. Again, I stress that this is just a fiscal structure; it is not into policies and program structures, but I think Brian will deal with some policies once we complete the chart.
You will notice on this section we have the Indian Affairs section; that is the present staff structure at the district office. On this section is the District Chiefs’ Council. In simple terms—I do not want to complicate things—we are attempting to transfer staff from the district office to the District Chiefs’ Council, keeping in mind that the trust relationship is still there. What we are doing is this: transferring staff from the district office to the District Chiefs’ Council. These staff work under the eight chiefs: the eight chiefs comprise the District Chiefs’ Council.
So we have assigned a band development officer trainee to work with key bands—I will use the reserve’s name—and also services come from Indian Affairs at the same time. Like this: Keeseekoose has theirs; Cote has theirs. ‘
We stress training; I think Brian dwelt on that. They are not working full time for that reserve; but the training has to come into place, and we have had training now for nine months, and once the training is complete we get the funding dollars from the operation officer transferred to this position. So I hope I get across to you, gradually, that it will not be a grant; it will be moneys of wages coming to these individuals to the District Chiefs’ Council.
Our plan, after five years, is to revert 17 staff into this operation. Presently, we have eight staff plus an accountants clerk, and we are creating a manager. So in due time, in five years, we should have 17 positions transferred to the District Chiefs’ Council.
Basically, we have done this for two reasons. One of them was that you look at Indian Affairs at the district level and what you see are all, if you will excuse the expression, white people. It is time we have Indian people. I think times have changed. Indian people are more educated. It has changed both ways. So one of the reasons we wanted to go into that fiscal structure was to train our own Indian people to work for Indian people.
I think Brian dealt with the services. The services are there, but they are not there like they should be. So we felt that Indian people know the situation and know what goes on on the reserve and they will provide better services. They are more loyal to the reserve than people from the outside. So these are
basically the two reasons why we asked for this change of structure.
So after five years we want to review this thing. Are we succeeding? Are we carrying along like we should, providing services? Are we training them so they can carry on and possibly get into these higher positions? That is within five years and, as I indicated, after five years we might go into programs and policies if these people have the proper training and know the philosophy of Indian Affairs and so on.
The board of directors are the eight district chiefs. They assign the individuals where they are going to work. They select the individuals.
Brian, did I forget anything on the structure? If not, I can dwell on the 10 months we have been in operation.
Maybe I can dwell on the conditions. When we met regional office, we had five conditions before we accepted this program. I think I will just explain, basically, two of them: that there would be acceptable training for the band development trainees . . . of course, that is basically common sense—and that regional and district managers are committed to this project for a period of five years and that includes funding. I think a lot of times projects start and they cut them off in one year, two years; they do not give them a chance. But we have got a commitment for a five-year program, which we feel will be sufficient time to evaluate and carry this out.
So these are basically the three conditions we had before we accepted this program. Again, I indicated the communication is there with the district and regional offices. We have had this program in operation for 10 months. Granted, we had a few minor problems that could not be resolved. The District Chiefs’ Council made their own financial regulations; they made their own personnel regulations. I think in any kind of operation you need those, and we have carried those out; we have them in effect. I think out of nine staff members we have had only one resignation, and that was due to family problems. So we feel it is a success up to this point.
Do you have anything to add, Brian?
Chief Standingready: I guess, on the overall organization of the Yorkton District Chiefs Council, the programs that he mentioned from the department, the services, the programs from the Department of Indian Affairs are only part of the programs that the District Chiefs’ Council want to get into. There are other programs presently being administered by different organizations within Saskatchewan. Also, other funding agencies from other departments within the government . . . those kinds of programs we are also going to go into. So this only has to do with the department programs at this time.
Mr. Chairman, as I mentioned before, there are two parts to our presentation. The second part I would like to get into—I
will make it as brief as possible—is the fraudulent surrenders of lndian reserves in Saskatchewan in the past. At present, there is a policy in place that was approved by Cabinet regarding land surrenders. For those of you who are not familiar with surrenders and land entitlements, those are two completely different issues. Under the land surrenders policy of the Department of Indian Affairs an office of native claims was put in place to make decisions on land claims brought forward by different bands. However, we feel the policy that was put in place does not serve our purpose.
Basically, the policy makes the Department of Indian Affairs or the Office of Native Claims, which yet is only an arm of the department, the defendant and the jury in dealing with problems which the department itself or its agents have created. As far as the White Bear Band is concerned—and other bands in Saskatchewan have lost reserves by fraudulent means—we cannot go into that type of a situation or that type of a forum or, using simple terms, into their ballpark.
We have documentation covering most of the surrender bands, as we call them. As for White Bear, the band I represent and come from, just to give you a brief example: Presently we have before the courts a statement of claim containing over 100 pages. Two very important items are in the statement of claim; for example, we are requesting 60,000 acres of reserve lands that we have lost in the past. On top of that, we are asking for $100 million in compensation and also $100 million in damages.
Those are just three examples of what we have in our statement of claim. As I said, it is over 100 pages long. With that kind of situation on our hands, and also all the documentation we have as evidence, we cannot submit that kind of evidence to the Office of Native Claims. In fact, we do not recognize the Office of Native Claims.
That seems to be the stand-off at this point. We refuse to deal with the Office of Native Claims because of the principles involved and also the amount of what we have to lose, if we do lose. To compound the problem, we have the Department of Justice trying to get involved, and also commitments made by John Munro in regard to setting up a joint commission made up of politically appointed people. So everybody in the government—the Department of Justice, John Munro himself, the Office of Native Claims, the Department of Indian Affairs—is trying to get involved, and we refuse to budge on that.
These are the two different examples we wanted to bring out: The district reorganization, attempting to work with the department so the programs are administered more effectively
to the bands; also, on the other hand, within the same department, as you go higher up the departmental ladder, we have the other situation again where the same people, or the same department, anyway, refuse to deal with us.
I think we made recommendations as far as the restructuring of the department was concerned and almost forgot to mention the recommendation that we would like to make as far as our land surrenders are concerned. As I mentioned, we refuse to deal with the Office of Native Claims, basically because of, as I pointed out, the amount of land, the amount of money and the amount of principles involved. We cannot throw our cards on the table and say: Here, Office of Native Claims, deal with us. We cannot do that.
As I mentioned before, the government, or the Department of Indian Affairs, under that policy that was approved by Cabinet is the defendant, the jury and so on down the line—and also the courts. The Department of Justice are trying to come into the picture.
We find that the courts are not geared to deal with these kinds of claims.
So we would like to recommend to the committee for their consideration some form of a body or an organization put in place where bands such as ourselves can safely—I guess I could use the word “safely”—put all our evidence, knowing that the evidence will not be tampered with. As I mentioned before, we have attempted to put a political body, a joint commission, in place to deal with land surrenders, but we cannot lay our cards on the table and show our opponent, in this case, what we have in case we have to go back to court.
I think that is about all we had on our presentation. If there are any questions, we will attempt to answer them.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Chief Standingready.
I would like to propose that we hear from Chief Joe Tsannie, and then we may question both witnesses. That will be easier for me as chairman to try to keep track of the questioners. If that is in order, Chief Joe Tsannie.
Chief Joe Tsannie (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the committee.
I have a fairly large area to cover. but I will try to keep it as brief as possible.
The first area I would like to talk about is the treaties. First of all, we, the chiefs of northern Saskatchewan, have always abided by the treaties that were signed between the federal government and the Indian people of the north. We have fulfilled our part in having the Department of Indian Affairs run our programs and our resources; but, again, this has sidetracked to an area where we do not get anything out of our resource that is being taken out of northern Saskatchewan at the present time.
Treaty rights in the north have slowly been invaded by provincial and international laws in casm such as hunting, trapping and fishing.
We, the northern treaty people, have been accused of killing wildlife out of season and mostly for sport. So to clarify that, I can tell you that whenever duck season is opened down south, from northern Saskatchewan the ducks have already left and flown south, This is one reason why we cannot be accused of killing off the wildlife.
Our forefathers were on hand at the time of the treaties, and most of the older people are still alive today. They still believe in them, and they were handed down to us in most cases. My father was chief for 22 years and he has passed these on to all the generations.
Before that time, people lived with the migration of caribou and other wildlife, winter and summer. But at the time of treaty and afterwards, everything has slowly changed for people settling down in small communities where reserves were brought in. But why on the reserves in the north where we cannot even farm in the rocks and muskegs of northern Saskatchewan? The reserve boundaries were put up by the department officials. Whenever they came in, they talked to the chiefs and councils and asked that they arrange for the reserve land. They did not ask the chiefs and councils where they wanted the reserve land or where the reserve was to be put.
Traditional differences in culture in the north are all different, even though we are all Chipewyans. Government transfers—both federal and provincial but, in particular in cases of the provincial government having the resources—have slowly set up a lot of guidelines against our treaties. In many cases, we must have licences to fish, to trap, to hunt, and to go to other leases on private land.
But now to get back to the Indian Act, we are still under the band custom where the chief and council are elected at any time, any year, any day, depending on the kind of work which has been done. One important point is that the department has tried to get us onto a term system. The people themselves have gone against that; they have rejected that idea. So, we are still under band customs.
As the saying goes, the old are the wise, These are the people who have given us the wisdom to understand the treaties which were signed with the department, and the younger generation who have gone to school in cities have taken the sight, or vision,74 of the older people. But what happens when they go to school? All that is eroded by city life. But do they believe it, or not? Maybe they do. But when they come back to the villages, they tell us that in many areas of those signed treaties we were cheated. In a lot of areas, we gave up a lot of resources and got no share out of them. Where does the money go from the resources? It goes to the government. And we get hardly anything out of it. We have asked many times for economic development to try to start up our own businesses in northern Saskatchewan, but all we get in
return is welfare assistance, which spoils our kind of livelihood in the north. This has happened over the past ten years.
Hunting, trapping and fishing are our main goals and means of livelihood. This is slowly changing. Now again caribou management has been implemented with them classified as an endangered species. Eight board members have been very active in that area. But again, five government representatives are on the board compared to three of the local resource-users, as they are called, or Indian people. This type of management shows that the governments are in complete control. We, the northern chiefs, cannot depend on the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development much longer. We are able to handle, our own affairs, given the chance. But to take the step of managing our own affairs . . . well, guidelines have been put in place which give us a hard time in trying to achieve our goals.
Now to get back to the spirit and intent of the treaties. Most of our ancestors who were on hand at the time of the signing of the treaties are still alive today and have told us that, during the summer they had to travel over hundreds of miles by canoe, and over portages, to attend the signing ceremonies. There is one case in particular, and maybe you can call it extraordinary, where, at the time of the treaty, many people were classified as non-status Indians, on account of the fact that the husband had gone down to Pelican Narrows, south of Reindeer Lake to get supplies for his family. And at the time the treaty was being given out in Pelican, although this particular man, himself, was a treaty Indian, he was given the choice of taking either the $5 to be a treaty Indian, or $150 plus a land strip to be a non-treaty Indian. In that case where he was out to get supplies, he took the non-treaty classification under which he would get a lot more money. But the wife was in Brochet, Manitoba, where she insisted that she take the treaty money for the husband and for the children. Now this case still goes on. The wife is a treaty Indian, her husband is a non-treaty Indian, and the children are all non-treaty. Although this case has been brought up before, nothing has been done about it. Such a case can never be justified in court. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development itself cannot justify it. They will just throw the case out, because they know it will be a long battle. This woman is still alive and is over 90 years old—living proof that she gave this statement.
Regarding participation in mineral and resource development, since between 15 years and 20 years ago, northern Saskatchewan has been the sight of uranium exploration, and now mines are slowly being developed there. Our lands have been eroded by land-cutters, geologists, drilling rigs, machinery, etc. The economy has been good for the federal and provincial governments, but the Indian people have been slowly pushed aside. Local trappers themselves have tried to speak up and organize themselves to talk against it, but
nothing has been done. Trappers and fishermen have been told to get out of the private properties which are being leased by the mining companies. And at any place now where they fish, there is a special toll which they can only take.
At the same time, the Department of Indian Affairs has had very little success in trying to provide us with economic development funds in order that we may get involved in any source of employment, or bidding on contracts for exploration and other construction work. There have been a lot of studies and surveys done in the last seven years concerning uranium and mineral resource developments. But when these surveys are handed down to the governments, they are slowly being rejected in order that they can get the mining developments going and that they get a share out of them. Now, of many of these studies, the local people of the northern communities have expressed their concern about getting a percentage of the resources being removed from the north, in compensation for the land destruction—not only land destruction, but that done to the wildlife and the livelihood of the people there. All that these people can do now is to depend mostly on welfare, which is something they are trying to get out of in many cases. But the Department of Indian Affairs has ignored us and just handed out welfare.
Again let me say that few people are being hired in these northern developments. When the government classifies northerners, they are the people like the treaty’s, the non-treaty’s and the white people, who have lived up there for 15 years or more. They are all classified as northerners, and there is no percentage as to how many treaty’s, non-treaty’s or whites there are who are being put in those guidelines.
As I have said before, regarding the development of the north, the Indian people are way behind. In order to acquire skills, we have tried to obtain training opportunitim. However, in isolated communities it is very hard—such as in Wollaston Lake in the north, Stony, One Lake communities, which are all isolated—it is very difficult for us to handle our own training courses. And at the same time, we have no machinery there which could be brought into those isolated communities. We are told only that it is a waste of money.
There have been at least a few people who have taken courses down south and are working today in Rabbit Lake or in other mines, and they are succeeding. And since the change of government in Saskatchewan, all rulings are effected without the consent of local people who are affected by the changes. The only way that I personally found out that Collins Bay bitumen of Rabbit Lake had approval to go ahead -was by the newspapers. That was never brought up. Now soon again, the agreement will be signed—still without the consent of the local people themselves or the local governments.
Now to go back to the impact studies that were done they were rejected by the province. We demand that they put a freeze on them unless we get some consent or some participa-
tion in the agreements being signed between the province and the mining companies.
Going now to the northern programs, let me remind you that the Prince Albert district is about the largest in Canada. We have to rely on plane—charter flights to come down to every meeting. There is a shortage of funds for these meeting expenses, which is why we are way behind in development. In the negotiations which go on between the department and other various agencies, the northern chiefs are always excluded, because we are isolated and it is very hard for us to get out to meetings. So we are never included and, at times, never informed. Let me say again, that we have never given up our resources or water rights—this being the main reason why we are frustrated and our goals and objectives are not recognized.
We, the Chipewyan people of northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba, are scattered in northern areas and are very isolated. We never can get together as much as we possibly would like to; in order to achieve our goals in the development going on around us. We are being in the dark. The main reason for this is that travel costs are high. The administration funds given to us by the department are very low and, by the time January comes around, we are out of funds. As a result, we have to make it through by laying off people until we get the new funding in either May or June. That leaves us with four or five months of being without funds. Therefore, to our creditors, we have brought a bad name, especially the band itself.
So, in dealing with the matter of self-government, these kinds of programs which are being implemented are very hard for us. We would like a chance to catch up on the development which is going on around us. But we need more economic development dollars in northern Saskatchewan. We try to improve our education. This is one factor which has cost us a lot of good people. People in northern Saskatchewan are not used to the environment of cities where they go to school. So in many cases, due to the environment, they quit and come back to the reserve. There have been a lot of cases where students have gone to school and then quit because of the frustrations they find in the cities. And even though they go to schools in the south, they still all come back to the reserve. This is the type of livelihood that we have: the environment is something they have inherited; they have strong courage and sense, but they keep a hold on that instead of going down south and living the life of the white people. Thank you. That is about all I have in my presentation.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much, Chief Tsannie.
Was there something further you wanted to add?
Chief Tsanni: Yes, I want to go back to the mineral and resource development matter and the agreement which is to be signed by the province and also by Collins Bay or Rabbit Lake
Mine. In the past five or seven years, as I stated before, there have been a lot of public hearings, and we have a whole bunch of log books from the hearings. The northern people themselves have rejected the words against us by the mine due because, whenever it is open mining, there is bitumen and it is partially in the lake. This is where the disruption will come as to the fishing industry.
Also, the only way to go up to the far north is by air, because there are no roads, and this presents our main difficulties. It is the reason why we had to come down here through use of the bands own funds to place our submission or our presentation in order to get you to understand what kind of difficulties we are faced with in the north. The situation is very frustrating. The kind of travels that Indian Affairs have undertaken in the past for as long as we can remember has been that they have come up once a week every so often by plane—charter flights. In looking back at the costs, it seems to us that we could have had enough funds to buy at least 10 planes.
Before I close off, I would like to ask each of the committee members to tell me whether or not they do respect those treaties of ours which were signed. Could I get an answer from each of the committee members, please?
The Vice-Chairman: You are asking a question?
Chief Tsnnnie: Yes. I am asking each of the committee members if they do respect our signed treaties, because we still abide by them.
The Vice-Chairman: All right. You are finished with your presentation then, Mr. Tsannie. The committee members may respond if they wish. Thank you. We are open for questions now. First, Mr. Chenier.
Mr. Chénier: First of all, Mr. Chairman, I will say, yes; I do respect your treaties. I do not think that the problem is with the members of the committee around the table. It is with the rest of Canada, I think, that we have to deal, and this is what we are trying to do. My question is to Chief Standingready and concerns the reorganization of the district office under the district chiefs. Does the district office that you have handle the Yorkton district bands only, or do they handle services to other bands besides?
Chief Standingready: This is for the eight bands in the Yorkton district.
Mr. Chenier: All right. Then I want to find out if you have the assurance that for every job you create there will be one officer removed from the district office. Is that what you said?
Chief Standingready: Okay, now when we signed the agreement in April 1982, there were conditions that we agreed to. One of those conditions was . . . well, I will just read them out.
1. The conversion of staff salary dollars into aid-based programs.
2. Commitment for salary conversion contribution on a five-year basis.
3. Provision of acceptable training for band development trainees.
4. The regional director general and regional management are committed to this reorganization and that it be seen as a priority.
5. Band development trainees be encouraged, and that promotion through the organization be seen as a high priority at district and region.
16. A series of policy development meetings is to be initiated to review all departmental policies.
Mr. Chénier: The reason I asked that question, Mr. Chairman, is because I wanted to follow it with a comment and, maybe, a note of warning. We have heard in other parts of Canada where regions have closed district offices because the bands were taking over the services. What has happened, however, is that where they took away field officers, and the bands did not get the total benefit of the devolution of the district office. In one case, if I recall correctly, I think the district office had 147 employees. When the devolution was complete, the bands in the area, I think, received the services of about 100. The other 47 positions had been transferred to the region because, since they were not then delivering service, they had to control the bands. That does not seem fair in my opinion.
Chief Standingready: I would like just to comment on that, Mr. Chairman. When they first started out, as I mentioned, we were very dissatisfied with the program delivery at the reserve level by district staff. We felt that, by our taking over these programs or at least by giving some direction, the services which originally were intended for the bands would be carried out in a more efficient manner. It has always been my argument as far as the department is concerned as far as Indian people or myself are concerned, that I can deliver a program a hell of a lot better than any department official, or any person who is hired by any organization. I mean not only the Department of Indian Affairs, but other department employees including Indian organizations. It has always been one of my biggest complaints, I guess, and I think I had reason to protest. Certainly, I am in a better position to promote those programs at the reserve level.
But I understand your comment about putting control people into the regional office. That is why we made sure that, in their conditions—No. 6 in your documents there—that whenever policy changes are made in any program, the district chiefs or the bands are first dealt with and their consent obtained for any policy that is made.
Mr. Chénier: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like respond first of all to Chief Tsannie’s question to us. Yes, I respect the treaties. I believe that there has to be greater attention given to getting the governments to respect the treaties—that is, to respect them not only in the letter of the treaties but, also, in the spirit of the treaties. I think some of the testimony that we
have heard in the last two days points to how the treaties are being undermined and slowly eroded. Sometimes there is a direct attack on the treaties but, more often, it is by very subtle and small things. If you take a lot of things and add them all up, they can have the effect of undermining the treaties.
I was very interested in what you said about economic development. I think the importance of economic development to Indian self-government cannot be overestimated.
No matter how many rights people have on paper, unless they have the real right to be in charge of the way in which they conduct their living and develop their economy, they do not have any real rights at all.
Now in your situation where there is a lot of resource development taking place, you mentioned four things, and I would like you maybe just to confirm whether or not I have the picture right. First of all, there is a need for greater training opportunities, so that your people can take advantage of any job opportunities there are. Second; there is a need for an affirmative action program, a hiring program, directed specifically to Indian people and not just to northern people. Third; there is the need for greater funding for meetings, so that the scattered population can get together and have some kind of co-ordinated approach to the development that is taking place; so that they will have up-to-date information on what is happening. and so that you will not need to get the information from the newspapers but will have it available there. You can meet with members from other bands and you can have a co-ordinated approach. You will be able to have environmental impact studies, so that you will know how new resource developments impact upon your traditional fishing, trapping and hunting economies. And, finally, you will want a share of the revenue.
Do those four things pretty well sum it up—training, job affirmative action for Indian people, greater money for meetings and co-ordination and resource revenue sharing. Is that a fair summary of what you see as being necessary?
Chief Tsannie: Well, as for the training part, that has been slowly taking place now, and we are glad to see it. Also, the hiring is partially in place at the present time. The difference is in the hiring of northern people. To my mind, there is a kind of misunderstanding. Of northerners, they are classified as treaties, non-treaties, and the white people all together; there is no classification as to how many treaties there are, how many non-treaties there are,and and how many white people there are who have lived there 15 years or more. They are classified as northerners.
Mr. Manly: And you would like that spelled out?
Chief Tsannie: We would like to see that explained or clarified. And more funding is another thing and the co-ordinating of our band businesses, or to allow different bands in the north to get together. Like I said before, our main difficulty is the shortage of funds to travel in different areas in order to conduct our own surveys. The surveys that are being done are owned by the mine officials where they have direct control of what to put in and, also, of what to put in their statements to their mining companies and employees.
Your last point is the share of revenues. We believe, and it has been put into our every statement and every study which has been done, that we get a share of the revenue. This is because there has been a lot of disruption of the land, disruption of the wildlife and disruption of our livelihood. Like I said before, there is nothing else that we can do now but depend on welfare, which is very unrealistic. Our people themselves have expressed their concern; they hate to live on welfare all their lives.
Mr. Manly: Over the past two years there has been some funding available for resource impact studies. Have the people in your area received any of those funds?
Chief Tsannie: We never did get any of the funds. But the provincial government has hired consultants from Saskatoon and from different areas to do the studies which, in turn, were given to the government. Those consultants in turn hired one or two local people to help them out but, like I said before, the recommendations which came out of these studies have been rejected by the province in order that they could get the mine approved and let it go ahead. The mine has gone ahead without native participation since the mining started.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I find
The Vice-Chairman: Roberta Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I would like to answer the question. I think it is a very fair question. Chief Tsannie, there is no doubt in my mind that I personally respect the treaties, and the Assembly of First Nations, which asked me to sit here on its behalf, is struggling at this very moment to have the Constitution of Canada indicate Canada’s respect for those treaties by entrenching them within the Constitution of Canada. It seems to me that this is going to be a very important test in March when we will see the sincerity of, particularly the federal government, when it says to Indians, yes, you have treaty rights and we respect them. We will be able to see if the federal government, in particular, is willing to take any concrete action at long last to do something in a real sense to prove that. I also think that you will hear every member of this committee indicate that they do respect the treaties, and I hope that will indicate how important that is and the respect that we have for them when we come to write this report.
As to my question, it is for Chief Tsannie. I am thankful that Jim Manly has explored some of these areas already. My question is quite simply this: Is it in line with your exercise of Indian government to be not just the recipient of jobs and a share of the resource development which comes out of it but, actually, do you not think that you should be part of the negotiations with the province and the company for this development? What has the federal government done—that is, the department or the minister—to advance your concerns? Have they gone to the companies? Have they gone to the province and said, Now wait a minute; there are outstanding treaty obligations here to these people. You are on their land. You are taking their resources and you have an obligation to deal with these Indian people. Would you shed some light on those two things for me, please.
Chief Tsannie: On the point of the negotiations, when the study surveys were being done, the people themselves expressed their concern that we try to negotiate with the appropriate people. On the other hand, we had the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians handle part of the negotiations for us. However again, we were into the problem of being in a part of northern Saskatchewan where they could not recognize the FSI as our negotiator. It had to be done individually so there again we were stuck. So the province has done a lot in the way of excluding us in many, or all, areas and the Department of Indian Affairs really has done nothing for us. They are on the mining company’s side because whatever kind of ideas we bring up, they bring up different ideas. They go somewhat by their own intentions. There again, we are excluded. The provincial relationship is probably the worst in northern Saskatchewan, because we never have seen the minister in northern Saskatchewan. We never have talked to him. We have invited some of the ministers to our meetings in the past five years and, rarely, has anybody shown up—or they send somebody else. The kinds of problems we have are those which they know they will get into trouble over, so they keep away from us. This is a reason why we are way behind in development, as I said before.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you very much, Chief. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: I have no questions, Mr. Chairman. Instead, I have just a comment with respect to the question. Certainly, I state, as a representative of the Native Council of Canada and, more specifically, a Metis representative in Saskatchewan, that we fully support the treaty rights of the Indian peoples of Saskatchewan and of Canada. The other thing I would like to say, Chief, is that I myself am from northwestern Saskatchewan. Buffalo Narrows is my home community.
I think you have done a very good job in putting forward to the members of this committee the importance of the tradi-
tional livelihood that is still continuing up there and, especially, with respect to the trapping industry. Currently that is an international issue, and over the next month there is going to be an intensive lobby in Europe to get a ban on trapping. The Native Council of Canada just yesterday sent a letter to several hundred people in Europe, including members of Parliament of the European Parliament, in view of that move in the European parliament to ban trapping. It is important that this committee here, or at least the individual members of Parliament, lends support to the Indian people that the fur trade industry in Canada is very important to the aboriginal peoples. Thank you for your presentation.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Gingras.
Mr. Gingras: We had an agreement together, Ray, and I that as members we will ask only one question, but I have a question to answer. There is one treaty that I know. It is the James Bay Agreement which relates to my riding and, when I came to Parliament, I started to study that treaty. And as a member of the committee with Ray, Mr. Manly and Mr. Schellenberger, I do let them know if I do not concur in a signed agreement. Maybe we worked for over a year to straighten out that particular agreement, and I think for the committee the implementation of the James Bay Agreement is quite the answer to your question.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Gingras. Sandra Isaac.
Ms Isaac: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have just one question which I will direct to any of the chiefs. If, in the future, all program delivery services currently administered for Indians were to be transferred to the full control of the people themselves, what program services would you see as the most crucial for taking immediate control of?
Chief Standingready: Mr. Chairman, it is not my intention to show any disrespect to the liaison members, but I think some of the issues which we have to talk about are between the treaty Indian people and the other native organizations across Canada. So I would not like to use this forum to deal with those matters, although I thank you anyway.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Manly, do you have one further comment?
Mr. Manly: Thank you. May I ask just one short question of Chief Tsannie for clarification? He indicated that the province would not recognize the FSI as the negotiator in the whole question of resource development. Will he tell the committee why that was and whether there has been any follow-up on it?
Chief Tsannie: If I understand correctly, that was before I became chief. But this is what we have been told. I myself had done an impact study for the province from the community of Wollaston Lake at the time, and we had asked the federation to do most of our studies. I just do not understand how they could have rejected the FSI handling the negotiations for us. They do not recognize the FSI as a northern member of the DNS. So we, with the DNS, had not too much participation in any kind of dealings that had gone on between the local governments of the province. But the local governments, like the “non-treaties” as they call them—the LCAs—they
themselves participated in parts of the negotiations, and they had the same kind of recommendations as we had. But the representatives were opposed to it, unless we got certain guidelines that we could agree on. So this is where the FSI got into the picture. They were not classified as a member or a northerner either, and we had to do it mostly ourselves like a chief in council. But there again, we were put down. It was the technical people whom we had to rely on, the FSI, and they just would not recognize them. So we had to do all our dealings ourselves, and had to make it clear that we were against it. This is what it was all about.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much. I think this is extremely important, Mr. Chairman. On a number of occasions we have heard Indian people stress the importance of being able to delegate some of their authority, and this is a good example where they wanted to do that and were not able to. It seems to me to be a rather ridiculous situation. Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much for your presentation, Chief Standingready, Chief Tsannie and Mr. Stevenson. We appreciate your presentations very much, as a committee. They are very helpful. I propose now to adjourn this committee meeting until 1.45 p.m. when we will hear presentation No. 5. We will re-assemble at 1.45 this afternoon.
The Vice-Chairman: I call the meeting to order to begin the afternoon session. Mr. Chénier wishes to address the committee.
Mr. Chénier: Mr. Chairman, I move that the expenses and services of Ms Marie Rose Yooya, Chipewyan interpreter, and Mr. Stan Wilson, Cree interpreter, be paid by the committee.
Motion agreed to.
The Vice-Chairman: We will begin with prmentation No. 5 on health and social services. Welcome to the afternoon session Chief Aubrey Goforth, Senator Hilliard McNabb, Chief Angus McLean and Elder Walter Deiter. Chief Aubrey, are you going to the address the committee first? You may proceed.
Chief Aubrey Goforth (Peepeekisis Band): Mr. Chairman, before I begin with my actual text that I will be presenting to you, I would like you first to look over to the southeast corner of the building. In relation to health, in relation to social services, that is the proposed format or formula that we, as a task force, had proposed to work out and implement on behalf of our Indian people here in Saskatchewan.
My written text does not only relate to my own reserve people but also extends to the urban people from my band who are living off the reserve. ln my possession here before me I have three or four documents. You will notice that my text is short; it is brief. You have heard from some chiefs this
morning who have taken the time to do research into the presentations that have been placed before you and, certainly, it is something that I have become very aware of today. Indeed, there is a lack of concern that we as Indian people are faced with today, not only in Saskatchewan but all across Canada.
The first document I would like to bring to your attention deals with the spirit and intent of a treaty. I understand now that you are to have in your possession a very similar document. Enclosed in the document dealing with the spirit and intent of treaty, there is the interpretation of treaty in relation to health and social services, and I would ask your sincerest consideration as to spirit and intent.
You will notice that this book sits on top of the preceding documentation presented to you by our national chief, David Ahenekew, and our provincial chief, Mr. Solomon Sanderson. I understand that there has been documentation in relation to Indian government, and I will make reference to a document which I believe has been presented to Mr. Penner. It is a document such as this which I show you. In the pages are outlined to you the documents detailing how we propose to deal with the alternatives that we suggest in implementing Indian government—again based on the interpretation of treaty. You have heard a very well-presented document this morning from Mr. Walter Gordon.
You will notice how I sit here. I feel very secure as, on each side of me, there are people whom I respect very highly. I have noticed that perhaps very little attention is being paid to elders of Indian communities, but certainly I am happy to say that I have never ever lost sight of that respect in relation to my elders who believe me when I say it. I feel very secure in sitting between two of my elder senators who advise me in relation to the spirit and intent of treaty. I will now begin my written text.
I am a chief who is situated in Saskatchewan here. My membership and my band is almost 1,100 people. I have on my band 600 in number. I have living in urban centres such as Regina and Saskatoon, from 400 to 500 people. So the concerns I speak about will include my urban people who live off the actual site of my reserve. I want to make it very clear to the committee that my jurisdiction extends certainly off the boundaries of the reservation and, certainly, I know in your possession you have documentation relating to jurisdiction or disputes that are happening every day, further creating problems for us as Indian people.
Members of the committee, first of all, as chief of an Indian band in Saskatchewan I want to welcome you to a region of Canada that my ancestors, by treaty, agreed to share with you.
The results of those political, economic and social agreements, known as the treaties, have not been good for the
Indian people of Saskatchewan. I will not repeat what you already know about the socio-economic situation of the Indian people of Saskatchewan except to say that the situation is severe and it is critical.
In addressing the need for change in the planning and delivery of health and social services to Saskatchewan Indians, I want to make it very clear to the members of this committee that I fully support and endorse the statements of Chief Solomon Sanderson when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development on December 16, 1982, as well as Dr. David Ahenakew’s presentation to the Special Parliamentary Task Force on Indian Self-government on February 22, 1983.
Mr. Chairman, in order effectively and efficiently to attack the problems of Indian health and social services, it is imperative that we thoroughly investigate the health, social service and developmental needs of the Indian people of Saskatchewan. The major products of this investigation would be an accurate assessment of the present health and social service delivery systems, and the policies governing these operations. Most importantly, this investigation would result in the development of a comprehensive and consistent set of policy recommendations to close the gaps between the needs of Indian people and the existing programs—programs which at present are not meeting the needs of Indian people.
The Indian people of Saskatchewan have taken a holistic approach toward the creation of a developmental process that will promote the general well-being of Saskatchewan Indians. To this end, seven characteristics of health care, health education and social development have been identified as requiring high priority.
The first is the development of clear and explicit national, provincial and territorial, health policies, including monitoring of health, both of people and communities, and using indicators which relate not only to disease but also to the qualitative aspects of life;
The assignment of much higher priority to the training of health liaison officers, community health representatives and health educators whose primary concern must be with the school, the family and the community.
The development of a massive education and health promotion program for families, schools and communities.
The development of curricula directly related to Indian health-care and daily living.
The development of a program that strengthens family units and promotes community ties.
The development of a program to train Indian health professionals in medicine, nursing and community health education.
And last, the development of educational programs for health and social development professionals in community settings where interprofessional and intercultural interaction is promoted.
We formulated these high priority objectives or characteristics in January 1979, and through both bureaucratic and political channels have attempted to secure the human and financial resources to begin the processes to carry out these objectives. The resistance of government to these initiatives has been great. A situation that is frustrating to me and other Indian leaders who experience first hand, on a daily basis, are the health and social problems confronting our people. We know the problems and we know what needs to be done to correct those problems. What we require is the economic commitment of Canada to the Indian people of Saksatchewan, which will facilitate the state of well-being which I and many others want for our people. This commitment must also include a fundamental assummption on the part of Canada that the Indian right to health and social development services and funding is based on the obligations of Canada as agreed to in the treaties.
We know that this position will require the resolution of some jurisdictional and financial issues with the Province of Saskatchewan, but that needs to be resolved anyhow. The current system of health and social services, as it exists, is inadequate, and consistently creates unwarranted hardships for Indian people, both on and off the reserve.
Mr. Chairman, I came here today fully aware of the stature of you and your committee, and of the importance of the task before you as you gather and assess information from the Indian people of Canada. But on the other hand, Mr. Chairman, I want you to recognize the stature of Indian leadership and their governing authorities in the political, economic and social mosaic of Indian culture and society.
What I would like you to do, as Canadian parliamentarians, is to accurately and precisely get the point across to your colleagues that the fundamental position of Indian people is based on the treaties and the rights of Indian people and its leadership to govern; that it is to establish policy, manage and administer the affairs of Indian people; that specifically in order to promote the changes required in health and social services, Canada must be prepared, as a matter of course, to
enter into fiscal arrangements with Indian governments for the provision of health and social services to Indian people.
If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like you also to recognize as the two gentlemen who, as I stated previously, sit on each side of me. And if they wish to contribute to what I have said, I would ask that their words also be recorded. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Gentlemen, would you like to address the committee?
Chief Hilliard McNabb (Gordon Indian Band): I am Hilliard McNabb. I have been the chief for many, many years of the Gordon Indian Band at Punnichy and am still on the council there. I guess they address me as a teenage senator.
Now, the few words I have to say are that of all the witnesses who have appeared before now and maybe today, this evening and tomorrow, I would emphasize the spirit and intent of treaties. It is our hope that you as a committee will make recommendations to the powers in Ottawa that it is our wish, no matter what our deliveries are, that it all boil down to one issue, which is the entrenchment in the Constitution of our treaties. Once that is done, as Indian people maybe we will have recognition of exactly who we are, what we are and what we intend to do with our lives. For far too long our way of life has been handled by politicians, bureaucrats, Department of Indian Affairs and so on.
I think our message today is to ask for authority or have you recognize our rights as treaty Indians. Then I am sure that with your help there will be no stopping us from learning the ways of the white man. I think we may be helped along even in the universities from which many non-Indian students have come to the Indians and said, we want your story to use for a thesis so we can graduate to the next class. We have done that, but I do not think that at any time we have come even to ask to write a thesis on how we can be like you. I do not think there is that intention but, hopefully, some time we will be able to work and learn together in an understanding of our economic, cultural and environmental differences.
With that I guess I have put most of the emphasis on you good gentlemen. I know you listen well. You asked some very good questions. And we would ask that you give consideration to the fact that we are different. We try to do things as we have been taught. Even from the early days when the ministers or Jesuits came out to teach us the gospel of their Lord, or our Great Spirit, there was caused a lot of confusion. Probably our case problems, our rights, have been dormant for almost a hundred years. As I say, that was due to the confusion or lack of understanding of our different cultures, different environment situations, and being made to forget what was our
heritage, our cultural life, our religious life. We were asked to conform to other issues of religion which we did not understand.
You know, there were many occasions that I travelled around where there was an audience. I would like to tell that we have been very serious; it has been good listening, but sometimes to get the people on the right track we have to come up with some humorous things. This is off the record, but I think to put in a bit of humour and a bit of closeness I will just tell you maybe an example of what I mean about confusion.
I guess this happened many years ago when the Jesuits and ministers and preachers all came rushing out—we want to train these people in religion, peace, and what not. There was one young fellow, I guess he was a little bit behind the rest, he is a little minister. He travelled here all ready to go to someone there in that Indian community, preaching the gospel to the Indians, and so on and so on. So he went back . . . where can I find a group of Indians or a community of Indians? Well, his friend told him, you go away up into the bushes; I think in a certain place you will find a group there. Gosh, he rushed off, I do not know how long he travelled, and he finally got there. So right, he was the first one there—good, I found what I want.
So he said, now I want a building. They had to use an interpreter, although the chief maybe understood a bit of English. So they built him a church or a house and he used that. He taught them the catechism, and when he got over that he baptized them; and the Indians said, well, what he has done so far did not hurt us. So finally he confirmed them in the Anglican faith and so on, and then he said, so far, so good, I am making good progress; next I want to marry them.
So he told the chief one day: Next Sunday you all come, I am going to marry you. They did not know what exactly that meant. . . in their traditional way married. So they said, I guess it will not hurt to try it. So they all came, and the women went to one side and the men to the other. He said: I want two people, a man and a woman. So a man and a woman went up and he married them in his faith. The next two came along, and so he married the whole bunch of them in that little church, or in his little missionary home.
So he felt great. Now, he said, I have baptized them, I have taught them religion, I have taught them this, I have confirmed them, and now I have married them. So while he was taking his things off and putting them away, he went to the door. Gosh, he looked around the yard, there was some fighting, some laughing, and, oh, everything was in a real commotion. So he said, hey chief, come here! He said: What is it with all these people? Oh, he said, everybody got a different woman.
You see how he confused the community then. So I guess it is probably just the same; maybe these are the types of things we want to get to you with the different papers that have been
issued by the witnesses. So I guess we are in some state of confusion.
I think after today I am sure that each and every one of us, the things that we have been . . . to for years is to get recognition of who we are, what we are, and what we are about to do. When we talk about self-government, I think this is really where we can develop ourselves with your resources, your technical expertise, and anything else you can combine.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Senator McNabb.
Do you wish to address the committee, Mr. Dieter?
Elder Walter Dieter (Peepeekisis Band): Well, I do not have too much to say. I have been doing a lot of thinking and listening to you fellows. I met with many government committees and government organizations in the past and I have tried to follow up the actions of what happened, the end results of some of these committees.
I think, before I say anything more, the basic idea I had when I became a leader of Indian people was to press the theory of our Indian treaties. Many versions and many interpretations are made of the treaties, and the people that are witnessing to support the kind of things that have happened in the treaties, that has always been done by a lawyer or a person who does not have any idea of the spirit and the idea of the whole meaning of the treaty. This point of the treaty is a real important issue amongst us, because the spirit and intent of the Indian treaty was to create a better feeling, a better understanding, and to live in harmony with one another.
I have, as I have said, sat on many committees. I sat on one big committee, the Great West Development. The recommendations that came out of that committee were sent to Ottawa. I have never heard anything about that committee or the recommendations since.
Another committee I sat on for 13 years; I sat on the Canadian Council on Rural Development. I saw all the papers, all the recommendations that were made to the government, and I have not seen one act or one thing come out of Ottawa on those recommendations. That committee is another one that went down the drain.
I sat on the committee that went around investigating the Indians and asking about the Indian Act. I travelled with that committee. That was the most useless committee that I ever had anything to do with, because they came out with a whole bunch of red papers, red books, and red letters; they never once heard what the Indians wanted, what the Indians were asking for.
I am just wondering today whether you people are listening to what the Indians are saying basically as number one.
Almost before that committee’s recommendations were made to the parliamentary committee on Indian affairs, the white paper of 1969 was out. There was no way they could possibly have read any of the recommendations that were made between the time that paper was sent out and put out. They said: In five years we are going to get rid of the Indians. I
did not even bother reading that paper, that white paper policy. I just said: No way are we going to accept that. The minute they start to speak of getting rid of the treaties, of any paper of any kind, I do not waste my time reading it, because that is not what the Indian people are saying.
Number 1 is that we want recognition of our treaties; and number 2 is a settlement on what is coming to us.
I was a little bit set back by a politician one day. He said: When are we going to stop paying you guys? I said: Well, let us settle for half. And he said, what is half? I said: We gave you 144,000 square miles of land, give us 70,000 back. Well, he said, that is not the question, that is out of order, that is senseless. But, by golly, if I sold a section of land to somebody and he promised to pay me so many thousands of dollars, he would damn well pay me or else he would end up in court.
I do not know where and how long this kind of thing is going to act, or be perpetrated, or whatever you want to say. Every time we ask for a dollar to settle for something we are given the great runaround: Canada has no more money. It is kind of easy to understand why there is such a little bit of money. I was in Ottawa the other day and I was looking at a great big building. I asked who owned it and they told me who owned it. Indian Affairs has a 20- or 30-year contract for renting that building, and there is not one Indian official in that building. There is where our money is going. We need some of that money out here. Before I get mad, I had better keep quiet. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Dieter.
Did you wish to address the committee as well, Chief McLean?
Chief Angus McLean (James Smith Band): Thank you very much.
I am quite new to this business. Ijust got elected as chief in my home band in the Prince Albert district and I was just asked yesterday to represent the sports and recreation field to this committee.
I work for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians in this area training recreational directors, and this is certainly a problem area for us to run due to the lack of finances from the federal government or the provincial government.
I was honoured to represent the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians in organizing a winter games in 1980, and just this past summer a mini-Olympics in Regina during the World Assembly of First Nations.
In the summer of 1974, the Cote Indian Band sort of led the way to establishing the summer games program and it was certainly remembered by all Saskatchewan Indian youth, and it was felt by all Indian sports enthusiasts that it was finally a program in place to develop the Indian athlete.
To make it relatively short as I know we are running into a time factor, we have a program in place in the Saskatchewan
Indian Sports College—grants for programming, grants for facilities, and a grant for educating our recreation directors. I can take you to probably the federal school system where we have absolutely no recreational facilities in place for the schools that have been established on the reserves. As a result our education programs have suffered due to the lack of interest, making the education process uninteresting for our Indian youth. It is my hope that this area of sports and recreation will find its rightful place entrenched in the new Indian constitution.
And maybe, to further elaborate, one of our senators stated earlier on yesterday, or last night it was, that our foreign aid program is probably too elaborate for our own Canadian economy and that our backyards should be cleaned up before we start sending or accommodating our foreign aid program.
Thanks a lot for listening.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Chief McLean.
It was interesting that when Dr. Ahenakew appeared before us last week he made a specific recommendation on the very program that you are talking about; that we create something of the same for Canadian purposes. That is a very interesting proposal.
If that is the extent of the briefs, would you be prepared for some questions from the committee?
Mr. Gingras: Mr. Chairman, chiefs, senators, today I do not want to go too deeply into the content of the treaties. It seems to me there is a consensus among the Indian chiefs and people about the meanings of the words in the treaty. It seems to me, too, that there is a misunderstanding in the interpretation of the words in the treaties. That means that the white man has problems to say, okay, we recognize the treaty, because they have to know what it means, even for them or for you.
Do you think it would be a good exercise to try to find a common language on the words written in the treaties? If I read Treaty No. 8—after they signed the treaty they went to the bands, and the big guy said, okay, I will explain to you what they signed, and after that they said they agreed to adhere to the terms thereof in consideration of the undertakings made therein. That means that somebody went to the bands, sometimes it is only five, six persons, and they say: Do you agree? They translate, and they say okay. But I was not there, what the Indian understood, the meaning of what he signed. I am sure that in—this one was in 1898; it is fairly new this one. But when you look at the 1874, 1875 ones, there were no schools in the band, and anyway everybody signed by their x anyway—I understand why. So do you agree that we should find a common language about those treaties, as a bottom line? Is there somebody who could . . . ?
Chief Goforth: Yes. First of all, I would like to say that I have no problem with the interpretation of the treaty. I think the problem rests on you. So, you know, it is definitely in my mind . . .
Mr. Gingras: It is in my mind, too, sir.
Chief Goforth:—the interpretation of treaty. When you talk about a common ground of understanding. . .
Mr. Gingras: Yes, in between white and Indian.
Chief Goforth: Yes. You know, as far as I am concerned, there is no problem with my understanding of treaty, as interpreted by my colleagues.
Mr. Gingras: I know you have no problems, because we feel that consensus when we go from one place to the other. But we are around five, six, or ten around a table, and we say in Ottawa there, we have a feeling that you white men, you do not understand what is the consensus inside those treaties. So that is my question. What we do after that, and say, okay, we do not agree on the meaning of those words. We have the same problems with the James Bay Agreement, and it is a fairly new treaty; it was written in 1975. I guess it is a start of the recognition of the treaty.
Chief Goforth: I have some thoughts about that agreement in relation to the interpretation of treaty.
Mr. Gingras: The spirit of the treaty?
Chief Goforth: I am talking about this . . .
Mr. Gingras: This—I mean, I am talking about. . .
Chief Goforth:—Treaty 4; the spirit and intent of treaty.
Mr. Gingras: Is that why . . . ?
Chief Goforth: There is no problem as far as interpreting that treaty.
Mr. Gingras: We have better knowledge now in meeting with the elders. They are sometimes the third generation, and the tradition in the house when you can have the real feeling, the real thing about the treaty, but the white man in Ottawa who has never lived on a reservation cannot have the real meaning, the real spirit of that treaty.
Elder Dieter: I think in December of last year . . . I will have to say this, that within the white community there always has to be some person that is able to understand what everybody is saying, a common understanding. Well, there was a case in Ontario where a hunter was picked up for killing game out of season who claimed it was his treaty right. But the prosecutor did not understand the terms of that treaty and there was an argument between the prosecutor and the guy that was being tried for killing his game out of season. So the judge said: Well, we will have to come to some kind of an agreement, some kind of exercise. If, in fact, he said, you are a descendant of one of the signers of the treaty, then it is possible that you understand what you are talking about. On that basis, he said, I will have to let you go.
So today we are talking about who is going to interpret the treaties. You do not understand our language or our ideas, our intent. Again, I am a descendant of two chiefs who signed treaties, from my mother’s side and from my father’s side. I should be able to understand that twice as good when it comes to talking about the treaty.
Mr. Gingras: Ten times.
Elder Dieter: So I will tell you, the spirit and intent of the treaty is that first we get a good personal understanding of friendship, and then we talk the deal from there.
Mr. Gingras: I completely agree. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Gingras. Roberta, do you have a question?
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to recognize Senator McNabb and Senator Dieter, two men not new to the national world of Indian politics. They are very well known and very well accomplished in the Indian political world. I am sure they are not new faces to many of the members of Parliament around the table.
The committee has heard, and I would like to ask Chief Goforth or any of the witnesses, any of the representatives here, to answer this question. The committee has heard much evidence from Indian governments saying that the only way of dealing with a lot of these issues is on a government-to-government basis. Dave Ahenakew was one of those people. He also said that what has to happen is that the Government of Canada has to change its laws so that it can deal with First Nations on a government-to-government basis.
Now, in the brief it says that some of these issues of jurisdiction and finances have to be resolved. I wonder how you see that being resolved. Is it through these what have been called government-to-government negotiations that will recognize First Nations as an order of government? Is that how you see it being settled? And maybe you can tie that even to the fiscal area of once those are settled, does the money then go to the First Nations who then decide how they want to run their government and how they want to deliver their services? How do you see that operating?
Chief Goforth: You know, when I mentioned that there had been prior documentation left with the committee itself, and with all the research that has gone into prior submissions made yesterday and this morning, I said that my presentation would be short, brief. There I think the committee has to go home and review all the documentation that has been placed before them and sincerely study them. I think that is one of the reasons for the bilateral process, in that if we are going to begin discussing my destiny—I spoke about recognizing the parliamentarians here, their stature as parliamentarians of Canada, but I also pointed out the recognition we want as chiefs of Canada. I want equal recognition. For too long I have lived with a subservient inferiority complex.
You know, these considerations have to be taken, and I will endorse what the senator said in that we have to begin working on mutual ground, common understanding of issues that I definitely have no problem determining. And certainly I want to be part of continued meetings such as we are having here today, not just a one-shot deal like is planned for next month. You talk about a great democracy. To me that is not democracy. Certainly I have to decide my destiny.
So that is the beginning of a working mechanism that I would recommend. I know there must be piles and piles of documents on your desks. I suggest you go home and take the time to pull our documentation, lay it before you and understand it.
Elder Dieter: There is a great spiritual movement afoot within the native community. We do not write our theories and theses and papers, because our bible is not written on paper, our bible is outside; it is the way the trees are growing, it is the way the grass is growing, it is the way everything operates in an order.
Just to give you a little example of how we live as Indian people if we were going to practice living in our spiritual way of living. We had some visitors from the United States, people we had never heard of, never knew. They had an automobile accident; they were driving a 1969 Ford truck. In the United States there is no insurance for vehicles over that age. The only insurance he could get was liability if he hurts anything or hurts anybody, but no insurance for the vehicle or himself. So he did not have anything. He phoned me, he knew my wife, he phoned us, and I phoned a few of my friends. I never got paid for quite a few days—heavens, I did not have much. The next day my fridge was full of food; they had blankets there for these fellows; everything was ready for them. I could not really believe my eyes that Indian people in their way of living really went out of their way to show these Indians from the United States that we have a spiritual way, and they have a spiritual way, and we exercised it. There is no need for us to write our theories and our theses on paper, because it is grown inside. Thank you.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chiefs, senators, elders, I would just like Chief Goforth, with respect to the health and social services task force that had been undertaken, to briefly explain to the committee some of the work that was done with respect to Indian child welfare and what possible direction he sees Indian governments going with respect to that issue or that area.
Chief Goforth: When I spoke about jurisdictional disputes, I have had some very trying experiences this past year in relation to my own grandchildren. Because the province, the officials of the welfare agencies, perhaps had heard somewhat the direction that the chiefs of Saskatchewan are now taking in relation to child apprehension, and at that time I was only a counsellor of my band-my grandchildren were going to be apprehended—they phoned me on the reserve and asked me to come up. So I went up, and I welcomed the opportunity to meet the people who were going to apprehend my grandchildren. It was something that I was going to enjoy doing and something that I did enjoy, because I spelled out to them, as little civil servants carrying out their duties, that these were band members belonging to my band and certainly no one could apprehend them without first coming to the chief in council.
When I spoke that my presentation would not only cover problem areas within the boundaries of the reserve but also extend outside the boundaries into urban centres, I meant exactly that in questioning agencies that could come and apprehend people, more so my grandchildren, that I feel we, as a chief in council, have definite jurisdiction over.
This ties in again with the suggested membership. Again, I have had some real experiences in that little area, and to me I say “little” because it is a band decision as to membership. You heard this morning the chief talk about citizenship, and certainly we have no quarrel with anyone, but I think we are the deciding factor of band membership right on our reserve.
I think, again, by dialogue, by an educational process—you know. my aspiration is that that is the only meaningful way that changes are going to happen when I refer to a fundamental change. You talk about a law reform, legislation, that is not hard for anyone to comprehend, and yet people seem so reluctant to accept the principles of treaty. I am saying that this is a beginning learning process~two governments sitting at the same table. That is the statue that I want, and certainly those are my aspirations for my people.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Chief Goforth. Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Seeing no further questions, I want to sincerely thank you for making your presentation available to this committee and for answering our questions. Do you have any concluding remarks?
Chief Goforth: Yes. I would again just recommend to the committee that every submission that has been made to you by our leaders, national and provincial, to presentations that have come forth preceding me, they are all based on the spirit and intent of treaty.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. We do have a copy, and the emphasis that you place on it is noted. I am sure that members will be searching it through very carefully.
Elder Dieter: I see this as a committee that has a little bit more power than any I have sat on before, but I still do not want it to die in the process; that is all.
The Vice-Chairman: We do not intend that to happen. We are very sincere in our motivation and in preparing a report that will go to Parliament this fall. You have our assurances on that.
Chief Goforth: One more parting comment. You have heard of that famous John Munro bill. Certainly I as a chief totally reject that concept of local government.
The Vice-Chairman: I appreciate that comment. Thank you very much.
We will now have a five-minute recess. We will call the witnesses for Presentation 6 on education to come forward to the table in about five minutes.
The Vice-Chairman: We will call the committee back into session to hear Presentation 6 on education.
I welcome the group prepared to present evidence to us: Chief George Poitras and Mr. Clive Linklater who will be presenting the brief to us, and Chief Alvin Head; and then we will have a presentation from Howard Bighead, Alex Greyeyes, Dennis Acoose, Ray Ahenakew, and from Elsie Roberts if she gets here. I do not see Elsie at this time.
I would like then to turn the meeting over to you, George, for your presentation.
Chief George Poitras (Education Commission—Provincial Joint Arrangements, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Committee members, ladies and gentlemen, chiefs, I would like to make the presentation on behalf of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, the people who live in this province and who have taken part in the development of the education program.
The whole education field is a key areathat we want to pursue and establish so that the future of Indian people is maintained throughout. We would also want to leave with you that the treaty clearly indicates the trust responsibility for education to Indian people, and that the treaty be entrenched in the Constitution of the March 15, 16 and 17 hearings. That is a very important area, because these hearings, with documentation tabled, will only be heard somewhat down the road—I believe five or six months—and the treaty area must be established in the Constitution, entrenched so that we have those rights guaranteed, especially in the area of education.
The next area that we want to get into is that it is a somewhat difficult time to discuss the history of Indian education. Indian education over the past 100 years has gone through some rather deploring, devastating and downgrading turns, and in recent decades, or in the last decade, the 19705, the education development program was set up by the Indian people of Saskatchewan so that they could provide for themselves the necessary vehicle by which the future could develop on.
Let me go back now to the early times when the delivery system of Indian Affairs was contracted to the religious orders. We have in there the personality, the character of the Indian taken away, erased and eroded, through the process of education. The education itself was to do five or six things: take away the language, remove the religious beliefs of the Indian people, break up the family unit—and by that I mean take the child away from the family when he is five or six years old and put him, isolate him, into an institution, which institution is equivalent to the Regina or Saskatoon or Prince Albert correctional institutes of today. What else did they do?
They took away the cuIture-removed the culture and beliefsvand, in turn, he was rewarded by having to adopt new areas of education which they call—which the religious indoctrination came about very strongly.
So you have a new language, adopt a new religious belief, because the God now that existed in the schools is the only true God there is and the Great Spirit no longer exists; that paganism is something that we had to downgrade. So the inferiority complex certainly developed over the education system that was instilled.
Then we go on to the other things, such as two or three generations of this kind of indoctrinating was carried on so that the people were led to believe that their way of living was wrong, that their God they believed in was wrong, that their culture was wrong, tbat even their family was wrong. Further to that, the child was taken away from his home for 11 out of 12 months of the year from the age of 5 or 6 years to the age of 18 years. At the age of 18 he was then married, because he is married right in the institution, and placed onto a different reserve other than his own. And we have evidence of that because the chief who spoke before me is the chief of my reserve. and he is well acquainted with this whole matter, because in that pursuit we now have people from all over Saskatchewan on the Peepeekesis Reserve, or the Final Hills Reserve as it was then known.
Further to displacing the child from his own home, educating him, we go into another era of development. We call it the high-school era. In the late 1940s we have the education program going beyond Grade Eight. Prior to that most of the children who wanted to go into high school or attain a higher education had to pay and sponsor their own education throughout high school and university.
Now what do we have when we get to the latter part of the 19405? You have in there the child who wants to go on further because he feels that it is necessary, and we have the religious orders being very interested. Okay? And they call a meeting with some of the parents in order to indicate that at least they have some input. Where was the parents’ input prior to this time? There was none whatsoever, because they were not allowed to leave the reserve—they had to have a permit or they could be incarcerated. As a matter of fact. there are examples of that. If you left the reserve without permission or without that little yellow ticket, you were put in jail; those kinds of punishments. The commissioner then had the authority and power to put any people in jail at will.
So we feel there was an indication of fear in all these transactions instilled into the Indian people. Naturally, the second generation felt that their children must learn the English language; they must learn the religious denomination upon which they had come from; they had to be certain that their child growing up had all these fixtures so that they could fit into the white society. We now know it as assimilation.
So in 1948, 1949 and 1950 we had the high schools earning into the picture. It was a great feeling by the people, seeing that their children could go further in education, and the institution was developed in the Lebret area for the western provinces. We had children from Ontario, Manitoba, Sas-
katchewan, and Alberta. The success story of that whole area is something that is probably documented with you already, because around this table there is evidence that will relate to those kinds of results. I can attest to that, simply because I attended that school for 13 years. The chairman of the day also went to the same institution. So we have those things in common, if you look around the table, around the whole room.
Now that was an indication to me that, okay, what is happening with our Indian education then? It was proving to be a very positive aspect of Indian life. It seems to me now that the department had to make sure that we could not allow this to happen too long. So the phasing out of the schools took place in the 19605, and it was not in consultation with the Indian people, it was just a departmental policy. The Indian people felt they were left out, because you cannot educate the Indian person, otherwise he may take over and start setting out his own life-style, his own way of life so that the future for him is going to be very, very positive.
We get into the 1970s, and it was during the 19705 that we have a real big improvement, a real big move I should say, towards the development of education programs. The chiefs of the province had set out to sanction developments, mandate the executive to put on programs such as the colleges that exist today—the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, and the community college.
As well in the latter part of the 19705, the commission did a study on the education task force to carry out what the joint schools were going to do. Now the joint schools is another story of the educational program that the department had instigated—although I think the word “instigated” is a little awkward . . . developed, pursued, and implemented. So if the department felt there were tax dollars—the way we feel about it is you cannot put educational institutions on reserves—make sure that the educational institutions are off reserves; provide capital agreements, tuition agreements so that they cannot be broken right away. So we are involved at present with those capital… break into those capital agreements in order to establish education on the reserve.
It is at this point in time in the history of education that we get into the development of the various institutions. But what is Indian education, before we get into the delivery of these other presentations? In my view it is simply this: it involves two worlds. One is the Indian world, and the other one is the white world. It is the diagram whereby you put the best in place and focus on developing an education system based on what is the best of the two worlds: the bicultural, the bilingual process that is certainly maintained in the colleges.
Now we have had much difficulty in trying to implement the programs, and we have to, in our own region, get more involved with the various chiefs across the province in setting out the goals and objectives, the criteria by which we want to maintain the standards that we want to maintain in education. We feel it is necessary and that this will also take place in the next three or four months whereby we do have some rules,
guidelines and policies in place so that our students will know what it is all about and that they will be backed by the chiefs of this province.
As much as I have to say about the history of it, the overall picture of running the educational programs in the province, there are areas that I probably have not touched on that are quite vital to the educational process in the Province of Saskatchewan. I am going to now ask the various technicians and witnesses to give the specifics of their programs, the goals and objectives that they do have.
The first I have on the list is the Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission, and it will be dealt with by Clive Linklater.
Mr. Clive Linklater (Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to table some documents for the committee. I am sorry we do not have enough to distribute to everyone today, but one of them is called “Indian Education Commission—Indian Control of Indian Education in the Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission”. I would like you to have that.
These other one-sheet papers, we have plenty of those so you can pass those around. These give a summary of the rights of the Indian people regarding education, so we would like to table that for the committee.
I have what is usually a long presentation, so I will try to race through it as quickly as I can in order to get the highlights. I will skip over some of the other points in order to get to the main issue.
First of all, the document that we tabled, the green document entitled “Indian Control of Indian Education”, is a follow-up from this document entitled “Indian Control of Indian Education—National Indian Brotherhood Policy Paper”, which was adopted in 1972 by the National Indian Brotherhood and the Minister of Indian Affairs at the time, Jean Chretien, and has been the policy of the Department of Indian Affairs ever since. So this is the policy paper.
This green book is how this policy paper is going to be implemented in Saskatchewan. It is quite a thorough and comprehensive paper, as you will see when you read it.
I am trying to give you a quick outline of what is contained in the document of how we see control of Indian education in Saskatchewan.
First of all, the big issue is: what do we mean by Indian control of Indian education? So we have the definition. We say that Indian education is to educate Indian people to be Indian people. That is a simple statement, but we think it has profound implications. As George was saying, the reason for education before was anything but to get Indians to be Indian, it was to de-Indianized Indians, to take away their language,
their culture, their families, their economics, their political structure, and so on. So we say we need a new order of education which we define as “education to be Indian people”.
There were many assumptions that were made regarding Indian people at one time. The education system was owned and controlled by outside people, departmental officials, churches, etc., and they had a series of assumptions. Their assumptions were that Indians were ineducable, you could not educate Indian people; that Indians had limited intelligence, they could only learn so much; that Indians had limited capabilities, they did not have the ability to learn very much and they were only good with their hands, or they were good artists; that Indians were slow learners, they have a very difficult time comprehending anything, that it usually takes two to three times longer for an Indian to learn something that other people learn in a short time; that Indians are lazy; that Indians are irresponsible; that Indians are unreliable. All those assumptions were what went into education for Indian people.
Whatever assumptions you have about people affects how you treat other people; that if you have those kinds of negative assumptions then you treat people in a certain way. If you are an educator and a teacher and you have those assumptions about the students in your school, then you treat them in a certain way. This is what happened to the Indian students, and out of that resulted what we call the failure cycle. Indian students enter school at an early age. They are like anyone else; they are excited. They face initial success and they are excited and want to learn, etc. Then they run into learning difficulties. Now everybody runs into learning difficulties all through school and all through our lives. And because people have these negative assumptions when they run into learning difficulties they face discouragement—the children are discouraged … saying: you are only an Indian anyway and what more can we expect of you?
And so they face regression; they start to regress in grades. We have statistics available that 30% to 40% of Indian students in Saskatchewan are age-grade regressed, which means they are either two or three years behind the grade in which they should be if they had started and progressed year to year. This eventually leads to disengagement; that the children pull back from school. They start to miss school, they drop out, do not go to school, come late, etc. That leads eventually to failure, and failing a particular grade the failure rate is also very high. And believe it or not, there are children failing kindergarten. How that is possible, I do not know.
Eventually that leads to what we call the destructive cycle. So now the student has failed and has dropped out of school, and most of the children, even in Saskatchewan, still drop out at a rate of 60% at the grade 8 level, and the grade 12 drop-out rate is slightly above 90% now . . . 93%. So the drop-out rates are very high. When the child has dropped out then he has doubts about himself; they have self-doubt about themselves and they say, well, I am only a dumb Indian anyway, there is no hope for me. That leads to unhealthy relationships with other people. They become loners and do not have friends and there are family break-ups and so on and so on.
The unhealthy relationships in turn lead on to negative dissociation. Well, negative dissociation is where people become loners; they have no friends. That leads to a whole bunch of other things like denial. They deny their own skills; they deny their own abilities; they deny their own intelligence; they deny their own nationhood and say, I do not want to be an Indian anymore.
It leads to pessimism; that people become pessimistic about life, about school, about other people, about themselves. This leads eventually to despair where they say there is no hope for me; there ain’t no hope for anybody; there ain’t no hope for me anyway, because I am just a dumb Indian like the rest of them. Eventually that leads to destructivity, and destructivity is measured in many ways in the Indian society: family breakups, incarceration—30% to 40% of the people in penal institutions, federal and provincial, are Indian people. It leads to dealing with alcohol, alcoholism, drugs, and a whole bunch of things like this.
So we say that is the result of the kinds of assumptions that people have. So we propose that you either get people to change their assumptions, their attitudes, or you get people with a different set of assumptions to operate in the schools. Now, the reverse of that: that Indians are educable, just as cducable as anyone else, that the Indians have normal intelligence, whatever that means, whatever normal, human intelligence is; that they are just as intelligent as French Canadians or Japanese or Mohawks or whatever. Indians have unlimited capabilities as well as anyone else; some of them are artists and some of them are musicians and some are athletes and some are all of those things. Indians are normal learners; they can learn just as normally as anyone else, as quickly or slowly as anyone else. Indians are industrious, Indians are hard-working and can be hard-working and have been hardworking. Indians are responsible, are reliable. and Indians have hopes and ambitions and ideals.
I think if we operate with those sets of assumptions, then when you have children in your school, the results will be different. We hope to inculcate what we call a success cycle: when the children come to school, at first they have initial success, they enjoy school, learning, etc. Then they run into learning difficulties. Now that is a critical point and you will see that this works the reverse. When they run into learning difficulties, if you have positive assumptions, you will give them encouragement instead, and in many ways, in the classroom. This can be done by tutoring, by individual talking, by counselling and so on.
That will then lead to progression, where the children will progress in their daily lessons and their school work and so on. So they will continually progress in learning and expanding their skills.
That will lead to reinforcement, where you will reinforce the progression and reinforce the positive attitudes that go on.
The reinforcement in turn will lead to promotion, promotion at all levels, grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and beyond,
and eventually to graduation. That success cycle will then lead to a productive cycle.
Now you have a graduate, at whatever level he graduates from school—post-secondary level or whatever. We think, if this graduation occurs at every level, cyclical, grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on—it is not only at high school or secondary school or post-secondary school lcvel—it will lead to self-confidence; Indians will have self-confidence in themselves; they will have self-esteem, self-reliance and so on. They will have healthy family relationships, friendships with other people; healthy political relationships and so on; they will be psychologically healthy. This will lead to positive association with other people. They will join teams, they will belong to organizations, they will get involved in politics and sports and recreation and so on, and that will lead to acceptance: acceptance of themselves as a human beings, and acceptance of other human beings, the differences that we have as human beings, either as individuals, as Indians, or acceptance of whites or blacks, of other people.
That leads to optimism, so that you become optimistic about your own value and your own virtues in life and so on, and optimistic about life itself. So it leads to hope, and people will have hope instead of hopelessness; and eventually, that will lead to success.
So we think the matter of assumptions is very crucial in education.
That is all I want to say about that.
I would like to describe a little bit about how we see the structure of the schools, the grade system. As you are all aware now, we have grades 1 to 12 and post-secondary. What we propose is that the grades be broken down into categories: preschool; grades 1 and 2 to be primary; grades 4, 5 and 6 to be intermediate; grades 7 and 8 to be elementary; junior secondary, senior secondary, et cetera.
What goes on in the school now is that there are basically two levels: grade 8, elementary level, and then grade 12 level. There are only two big steps and it is a long haul from kindergarten to the grade 8 level.
We propose dividing up the categories into these levels so it becomes like a stepladder process; Once they pass the preschool level, then it is a success. It would be a big graduation and certificate—a sort of celebration. Then they would go to the primary level, grades 1 to 3, and that would be another break-off point and then have a major event. It would be a major event in their lives so as to inculcate success. And then at the intermediate level and at the elementary level, the junior, secondary, the senior secondary level and so on.
What will we teach in the schools? We propose restructuring and altering the curriculum to a great degree. We say that there should be four basic essentials, which we call core essentials. One of them is Indian languages. Indian languages should be emphasized in the school: reading, writing and oratory. Oratory means public speaking, being able to speak in public in the Indian language.
We also advocate the English language in western Canada because the Indians’ predominant language is English. So that would be reading, writing and, again, oratory. Public speaking is very crucial. At one time public speaking was a powerful element of Indian society, but it has been ignored to quite an extent lately.
Of course we advocate mathematics, and particularly budgeting and accounting. The reason we had budgeting and accounting is because Indians need to deal with money. Indians at one time had a cashless society, they did not use cash. Indians do not have cash today either; it is being cut off at some levels.
Indians need to be able to deal with money. There are also the traditional arts, the arts and crafts: music, singing, drama, dancing and so on. So these are the basic core essentials under which they would operate.
We see these basic core essentials operating at all levels as we have outlined before: grades 1 to 12, and all the different stages.
We then break the other subject areas down into three components. What goes on in the schools? One is what we call information. People come to school to get information. We could label it information; that is, teaching and learning of facts, knowledge, information, data, truths, beliefs, principles, assumptions, realities, observations, etc. It is knowledge that you pick up. It is telling, explaining, studying, observing, watching, viewing and so on. It is what you get from school.
Another part is training. Training is different from information. Showing and practising of skills, techniques, abilities, know-how, how to do things, etc. It is done by repeating, experimenting, demonstrating and so on. It is the how that you get in the schools.
The other one is development. Development is arranging and using the skills that you get, combined with the knowledge that you get, in order to do something with it. It is the doing of things, which is not emphasized in school these days.
So we say, we are breaking up these three things: information, training and development. In what? We say that there are 12 basic areas. One is the family: information, training and development regarding the family. At one time the family was a basic unit of the Indian society and it still is to a great extent. We must strengthen the Indian family.
Then we must strengthen the Indian community, the whole community itself; the families relating to each other, etc. We must strengthen Indian information, training and development regarding the community. We must strengthen information, training and development regarding the spiritual life because Indian basically was a spiritual culture and it still is. So we talk about the Indians’ spiritual life and the Indians’ spiritual values and so on.
We talk about the culture, all the things that are involved in culture—language, information, training and development, and political information, training and development. By politics we mean the decision—making processes. I am not talking about whether you are Liberals or NDP or Conservatives in this instance.
We talk about economics, and economics being three basic components to any economy: the land, the people and the resources, and how Indians use the people, the land and the resources. This is what we mean by developing economic information, training and development.
We talk about social information, training and development, how people relate to each other. Dealing with such things as birth, death and marriage and so on, and all the social customs; visiting and so on, and how that works.
Recreation and physical information, training and development. Science and technological information, training and development. Dealing with the environmental and conservation; dealing with nature. The Indian society traditionally has dealt with nature, so we must deal heavily with nature. With institutional and organizational information, training, and development. Some of that may be something new as far as Indians are concerned. There are many kinds of institutions: political institutions, economic institutions, and so on.
Also we deal with information and communications, that is, all the technology regarding information-giving; radio. television, including public speaking. So that is another area. That is how we propose to incorporate the curriculum—what is going to be taught in the schools. It essentially means revising, revamping the curriculum over a period of time.
Just let me go through how we see the the organizational structure.
In Saskatchewan there are 69 bands and each band will appoint what we call an Indian Education Board, and that could be made up in many ways. For example, in some bands. the band council itself is the Indian Education Board. Or it could be a board appointed by the band council or elected by the band or a committee of the band council. There are different ways to do it, depending on the bands, so that each band will have an Indian Education Board.
There are 69 bands in Saskatchewan, so there would be in effect 69 education boards. That is the commission: one representative from each of those 69 bands is the commission.
In Saskatchewan there are seven districts, so there would be district education councils there, or something bands can do within their own districts; sharing of teachers, buildings, etc. There are many things that they can do: purchasing supplies and so on.
There would be a chairman. In addition to one representative from the 69 bands, there would be five board members, as it were: one a chairman and four vice-chairmen. The way we see it at present, subject to change, is that one vice-chairman would be in charge of administration and finance; staffing and personnel; public and community relations; curriculum programs, courses, buildings; supplies and services, et cetera.
There would be an executive board made up of those five—plus one representative from each district. There would be 12 persons on an executive board.
We have 69 bands and 50,000 Indians in Saskatchewan. There would be 69 Indian education boards and from 300 to 400 persons on those boards, depending on the size of each board. Then, one representative from each of the bands would make up the commission; 69 plus 5 is 74, right? And then there would be district education councils: 7 districts, and out of the 7 districts there would be 1 representative, plus the 5 executive, and that would be the executive board, 12 persons. We usually do the design that way, but sometimes, in going to the bands, they do not like this hierarchical structure so we try to show that in a circular fashion because Indians like circles.
There are the 69 bands; one representative would be on the commission. There would be 7 district councils. From each of the district councils there would be I representative plus 5 members selected from the commission. So there would be 12 persons on the executive board. That is the structure as we see it.
In order to carry that out, we are doing several activities. We are now conducting training sessions for the people who ar going to be on the Indian education boards. We have conducted several training courses, both regionally, at the district and at the band levels. We are doing an analysis of the schools—attendance rates, drop-out rates and so on. It is all outlined in the book, the other kinds of activities we are doing.
We are currently holding band meetings with all the bands in all the districts, in order for people to understand this proposal.
We are in the process of taking this to all the bands in the districts so the bands can discuss it; and we anticipate that within five years, that is our timeframe. By that time we will have all the discussions, band visits and so on taking place.
I have gone over my 15 minutes. I am sorry, Mr. Chairman. I think that concludes my presentation.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Clive.
The next item that we have is the elementary area and we are going to discuss here the band controls. We have a number of those in Saskatchewan. We had at our disposal the Red Earth Band, and the Chief of the Red Earth Band will give his presentation. Chief Alvin Head.
Chief Alvin Head (Red Earth Band): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My topic today is band control, which is Indian education and process at the reserve level. I have with me a resource person who will explain the statistics as they relate to the operation of the education system.
Good afternoon senators, chiefs and representatives of Indian governments. Welcome to you, the representatives of the Canadian government.
We appreciate this opportunity to speak to you and to share information which, after all, is the essential task of an education process. In the past, information sharing has been sadly lacking and our story has not been heard. It goes without saying, that he that controls information, controls decisions. Just in a humorous way, I will highlight that point.
Take, for example, the current issue of the NHL franchise in Saskatoon. You are here now and you can see that Saskatoon is likely the most beautiful spot in the world. But if if you were Harold Ballard, and you controlled the information, then you could not see or hear for yourself the truth. You would all think Saskatoon, as Ballard says, is a place where it is always 50 below zero, where our only two restaurants serve caribou and moose, and where dog sleds are the only form of transportation.
Control, as you see, colours perception. So I thought I would bring that out, just to emphasize that he who controls information controls decisions.
The Hon. Jean Chretien, in a speech in Regina on June 23, 1972, spoke on education of Indian children as having been a process of whitewash. He proposed an infusion of cultural content into the curriculum, a sort of red rinse. My purpose is to speak to you of full control or, if you will, as detergent ads would state, the process of making our children “redder than red.” No left-leaning pun intended on that one.
I am the chief of a band of 500 people of Cree descent, and have served in that capacity for five years. I intend to speak of some changes that have occurred in that brief time, changes that I feel will make a point for all treaty Indians.
We see here the presentation made by Clive of the education systems that will take place to support Indian government. So be it with band control at the reserve level, where we feel that essentially growth of Indian government will take place. That is the point that we are making at this time; how band control relates to Indian government. However, I will get back to my speech.
We at Red Earth are but one example of this change process and we acknowledge that a number of bands have helped break trail in this process. We at Red Earth have had our journey eased by their efforts and we appreciate the bands that went forth before us into band control. Apparently, they are still suffering today because of that. Government suppression and a lot of things happened to them.
Prior to 1980, students of Red Earth were required to attend a federal school to grade 9 and then move on to a provincial
system for senior grades. Since 1980, the band has secured control and is operating a system, kindergarten through grade 12, on site.
I wish to make some comparisons to show how my people can perform, can produce exciting results when given the opportunity.
Before doing these comparisons, I wish to note that this has been achieved with limited resources and with limited control. I will speak to these points in a moment, but first let me reveal this data.
In the last year of federal-provincial schooling, our attendance figures in the latter part of the school year were at 40%, having fallen from 74% at the beginning of the year. This figure does not reflect drop-outs, for they were deleted from the registers.
In last year’s operation, under band control, our attendance was at 94% in our high school grades at the beginning of the year and was sustained to 88% by year-end. The provincial average is roughly 80% for all high school students, and I would like to have my resource person explain what I was talking about with regard to these statistics.
Mr. Ken Hodgins (Resource Person, Red Earth Band): Educators love to graphically illustrate everything, as Clive did before me.
This simply speaks to the point that Chief Head is making, that in a period of two years the transition that has occurred by . . . I suppose, in a sense, the fact of speaking to the pride of the students in the transformation. This was not uncommon, that more than half of the students who remained on the registers towards the end of the year were not attending school any longer. At this point, the students were in a boarding home program, off-site, living in strangers’ homes. So at this point, the students are attending their full schooling on-site and the program is determined by the band, and the results are evident.
Chief Head: In the last year of federal-provincial operation, our drop-outs in two senior grades approached 50%. The provincial average is roughly 10%. Last year we had a 6% drop-out rate at Red Earth.
Mr. Hodgins: Again, that is simply articulating that. Insofar as attendance is concerned, it must be made clear that anybody who dropped out was deleted from the register. So this shows a compounding of the problem. It was drop-outs plus lousy attendance in 1979-1980 and down to 6% in the last school year.
Chief Head: Thank you, Ken.
So far this year we have lost two students. These numbers include losses to marriage, pregnancy, family urgency, etc. Compare this drop-out rate to Jean Chrétien’s figures in 1972, which speak of a 95% drop-out rate before graduation.
Further to this point, in the last year of federal-provincial schools, the number of graduates from Red Earth were two. Last year, we had only four grade 12 students, all of whom
had been in the federal-provincial system for all but this last year. Three students graduated. The fourth student has returned this year to conclude her high school studies.
I think you can see, as we compare figures here, that Indian people are working within a framework of an education system which is not theirs to begin with; it is a failure-oriented system for Indian people. Because it is not Indian we can see the results of the statistics; we have dropout rates and nobody is making it to grade 12.
This year we have our first class of students who never had to leave home for their schooling. There are 18 grade 12 students. We expect all to have a good chance of graduating. We have 19 grade 11 students, 20 grade 10 students. In a couple of years we have reversed a syndrome of failure, dropouts and lack of attendance. Although we do not feel we have to adhere to provincial standards, let me assure you we do presently meet these standards for grade 12 as proved by our writing of province-wide departmental exams.
In the short time we have had control, we have had other manifestations of success. In the areas of program, the provincial schools we were involved with showed their lack of concern and fairness by serving a school population of 14% Cree students, by having as the only special Indian program a segregated class to orient Indians, to upgrade us to white standards at grade 10.
Meanwhile, the same school served a population of 12% Urkrainian students and 3% French students with language programs, with extensive inclusions in social studies as to Ukrainian and French contributions to Canada, with concessions in home economics, art, and other subjects to Ukrainian and French culture input. I mean no disrespect to these cultures, but only refer to them as a means of showing the unfairness.
This state of affairs was a result of federal-provincial tuition agreements that paid high tuitions, higher than tuition costs for federal or band schools, but that had no assurance of Indian contribution or involvement in program decisions. The result at this school was that the 86% non-Indian population dictated 100% of policy and program. Our share of development and innovation dollars contributed to creating programs for the 86% non-Indian students.
Since breaking out of this system, let me highlight only a few achievments. Our students now enjoy a program of curriculum that includes a science program that to date has dealt with local concerns of wildlife, forest management, animal husbandry and plant science. We are currently working to set up a small school farm to teach practical application. This replaces a provincial curriculum that insisted on a study of chemistry and physics in grades 9 and 10 that almost always forced our children to hate science.
Our program now has an art component which is two years old and includes Indian traditional and contemporary art. In only two years with our students, never having had a decent art program, we have had several students enter and be given recognition in art shows province-wide, with some awards. Several weeks back one student was chosen to have his design adorn and take up a full lobby wall of new office tower for the Saskatchewan Power Corporation headquarters in Regina.
We have initiated and are developing, language programs, computer and business programs, and are even delving into communications. We have set up and are operating the very first band controlled TV station in Canada, and it is run by students. It broadcasts to all of Red Earth, and to Shoal Lake, which is 15 miles away. We are in a joint venture with another band; the Shoal Lake band is with us in our high school system.
We hope to exploit this by developing communications courses and by using the station to broadcast sports, band meetings, our news stories, and by broadcasting films from our Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College and other sources. In this respect, we will control and educate right into our own living rooms. In addition, our schools are now winning awards in sports competitions that we did not even know how to play two years back. We recently won a volley-ball tournament against teams from communities up to 10 times our size.
In addition to our achievements in our kindergarten to grade 12 system, we are in our third year of operating a trades training program that currently is training 13 apprentices to be carpenters, electricians, plumbers and auto mechanics. This program is 85% on site, the balance being at technical institutes.
We are launching a full-fledged complete to degree on-site teacher training program, of our own design. This will involve 20 students who will one day, we hope, staff the largest part of our school operations. This program will be over 90% on site. We hope to set up our university programs so that we can train any student for up to the first two years of a general arts program on site. The individuals would then attend the university of their choice to complete the specialization of their choice. This may seem ambitious; it is. Red Earth has never had a university graduate. In fact, only a handful have ever attempted post-secondary training. In order to maximize these chances, we need to achieve equity of funding for services such as daycare as well.
I sound as if I am bragging; I am. I am proud of my band, of my students. We have done all this in only a couple of years. Other bands have similar stories which I am aware of. We have broken the yoke, broken free of most restraints. But we have not shaken all the reins, nor do we have full choice as Indian governments, as to the relationship we wish to have with the federal government.
Let me address the matter of accountability, of terms and conditions. Some bands wish to retain federal schools. I fear the Canadian government will not let these bands do this. Just as my band wishes an arm’s-length arrangement, other bands wish various degrees of this autonomy and the opportunity to move along a continuum of band control at will by agreement. My fear is that the extremes of this continuum will be denied. On the extreme of maintaining federal schools for those who desire, this is contrary to an apparent government policy to have band control region-wide by 1985.
The thrust of band control is our tool, not to be abused to alleviate person-year concerns or appease Canadian consciences. It must be implemented at the pace a band wishes. Conversely, for those wishing to fully exercise the option of autonomous band control, the current policy restricts that option as is clear from page 39 of the “Indian Education Paper: Phase 1” by the Education and Social Development Branch of Indian Affairs, issued May 1, 1982. This is a copy that I have and it will be presented.
Under Section 2:11 of the Commitment to Local Control section, it states:
. . . the federal government would still retain a responsibility for the expenditure of funds and qualitative outcome of programs much the same as provincial departments of education.
Furthermore, page 7 of Annex F of the same report suggests, under subsection IV, entitled Department-Band Education Agreement, that terms and conditions must reflect these control requirements. Although these statements are improvements over past policies, it is still asserted that there must be a financial audit, a program audit, and assurances of maintaining standards. It goes on to claim that there should be more terms and conditions which are left unstated. In the sense of band control and Indian government, I assert the option of being fully autonomous. Look what we at Red Earth have achieved. Do Canadian government people feel our parents will permit abuse? I would suggest that with the record of both federal and provincial governments in Indian education, it would be hard for us to do worse.
We must have the right to make mistakes. Inherent in that right are responsibilities and the chance for us to excel.
With respect to resources, let me assure you that we at Red Earth, and in other bands, are making accomplishments in spite of inadequate financing. Let me refer you to the Indian Affairs statement again. Page 51 reveals a need for catch-up funding for equality with provincial tuitions of $14 million. It also concedes to a per-unit cost element in recognition of the special characteristics of Indian education in an amount of $22 million. These are Canadian government concessions, not our claims to funds.
Page 2 of Annex G shows that these figures, on analysis, reveal a 10% disparity in funding between band control and provincial schools, and a full 15% shortfall for federal schools. So with that, I would like to have the resource person make a comparison with that on the chart.
Mr. Hodgins: The current funding for the fiscal year 1981-1982 is revealed in the first three items and, as Chief Head has suggested, the source for these figures is the “Indian Education Paper: Phase 1”, issued May 1, 1982. These figures are not stated this cleanly in the paper. They are extrapolated.
The current tuition for federal schools in that year was averaged nationally, $3,215. For band controlled, $3,360. If the Department of Indian Affairs were paying tuition to a provincial school, they were paying on average in the nation of $3,675. Now it would be worth pointing out that the disparity is larger than that in the Saskatchewan region. Federal and band—controlled schools did not get that level of funding. In provincial schools we are approaching $4,000, but we take the national figure because we have an undeniable source for it.
The other thing that Chief Head has alluded to is the fact that the booklet speaks to the shortfall of funding to address a catch-up, in a sense, for a lack of programs previously and a cultural consideration. The figures that it uses are of its own making. They are not of the making of Indian organizations. By saying that, what I am suggesting is that the study concedes to that need. Indian organizations may feel that that need requires far greater input than does the paper concede to. But again, in the sense of keeping to figures that it reveals, it suggests that an approximate 10% additional requirement would be necessary to offset those needs. So in that year you can see the disparity in funding. It approaches 25% from federal tuition agreements to tuition that the study indicates should have been paid, and it is roughly 15% simply from federal to provincial. Just to make this clear, you could take the same child and put him into any one of these three schools—as a matter of fact, you could put him into one of these three schools in the same year or all three schools, and
the Department of Indian Affairs would respond to that child’s attendance by paying tuition in these amounts. And it might further be pointed out that there is no acccountability at all for provincial tuition agreements. An invoice is sent out, the department coughs up. It is merely an issuance of an invoice without any accountability at all.
Chief Head: Thank you, Ken.
In sum, this suggests roughly 25% shortfall to adequately finance Indian schools. My point, therefore, is this: Imagine what we could do should we have the option of full autonomy with the benefit of adequate funds. We in band control have an opportunity you in provincial schools squandered. In Saskatchewan all schools were locally controlled 50 years ago. Now all provincial schools are run from Regina with parents having virtually no say. There is one way with mild variations. But in band control we can be the cutting edge. We can show how influential and effective parents can be.
Before concluding, let me suggest to you how we in one part of this region have sophisticated our services. I raise this to offset the likely questions of how a small set-up in Red Earth could ever hope to offer full range of services to its students. This is the usual line that results in creation of centralized jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan parents have in Regina.
In Prince Albert District nine bands have pioneered a system and service mechanism that we feel serves to protect and enhance our interests in the field of education. This organization, working under the district chiefs, is called the Consultative Services Group. It renders services in response to request and invitation by individual bands or by the district collective. It is a group free of jurisdiction. It can easily be networked province-wide and lend itself to assuming that portion of the Indian Affairs role of consultation that is likely to be lost by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development by process of devolution.
By the way, in terms of devolution, I have a little humour that I wanted to bring out in terms of devolution and our perspective. We Indians are thinking of adopting devolution as a policy. We hope to devolve a couple of hundred years only to the point where we can meet again at a treaty table. This is a process of going backwards. We would this time say, no thank you, and send you packing back overseas. We then would establish immigration policies to let people like Wayne Gretzky in, so our Indian boys like Reggie Leach or even George Armstrong could have competition.
Let me close with a quote in reference to education:
This then is the challenge: to explore all possible avenues and to use the best means to promote the identity, dignity, and potential of each Indian child, so that he or she might acquire mastery of him or herself and his or her environment, and be able to advance on the road to independence and self-determination.
This quote, ladies and gentlemen, is not from an Indian, as one might suspect, but is from the former Minister of Indian Affairs, the Hon. Jean Chretien, again in June of 1972.
Thank you for listening. I hope I have helped you understand Indian government and how we see it manifested in Indian education. I know of your sincere interest.
I am aware, Mr. Schellenberger, of your personal interest, which is heightened by the involvement of your wife as a teacher on a reserve. I know of Mr. Chenier’s previous role as a school principal; and the other committee members, through their children, are very concerned about education. To me, education is our ticket to a better future and I trust you will appreciate our concern about control of it. Thank you.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Chief Head.
The next item is the student residence. There are seven in the province and Howard Bighead will make the presentation.
Mr. Howard Bighead (Administrator, Prince Albert Student Residences): Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, chiefs, senators, ladies and gentlemen, my short presentation is going to deal with the student residences of Saskatchewan. As a lot of the comments that have been made already, I will be bringing out in my short synopsis of the student residences in Saskatchewan.
In 1967 there were in exctxs of 60 Indian student residences operating in Canada. Today, with the exception of a few isolated cases, Saskatchewan has been the only province to retain these institutions. Why? Traditionally, Indian residences were operated by various churches and the federal government. They were primarily used to enculturate Indians. It was believed that by removing Indian youth from their homes and placing them in captive environments, the heart and soul of Indian culture would be removed or a process of de-Indianizing the Indians. Specifically, residential school Indians were not permitted to speak their language, practise their religious beliefs and rituals, or have the opportunity to learn what it means to be a self-actualized Indian. Rather, these institutions were were highly regimented with programs and a school curriculum alien to its students.
As the cost of operating Indian student residences increased, the Department of Indian Affairs attempted to close these institutions. As a result of the factors mentioned previously, the Indian leadership in many provinces concurred with the closures. With the advent of band control in Saskatchewan, the chiefs of this province seized the opportunity to turn what were anti-Indian institutions into schools that advocated and encouraged Indians to be Indians. The accomplishments of our schools in the few short years are many. The fact that band
control schools and residences exist is in itself a tribute to Indian incentive. leadership and concern for the education of future generations. It is an opportunity to have an educational system geared to success rather than failure. Evidence as to the success of residences is reflected in the increase of high school graduates. Student residences have played an important part in the development of Indian communities. Through our doors a large portion of today’s Indian leaders have passed. Teachers, doctors and a host of other professionals have received their rudimentary education in our schools. The future direction of residential schools is presently under discussion. What is clear is that our Indian governments will determine what is best for Indian student residences.
Some of the educational options Indian governments may wish to explore include: a satellite campus for the Indian community college, a federated college, a cultural college; a sports college to develop Indian athletics; a technical or trade school.
The success of any future alternative for Indian residential schools must be initiated, developed and operated by the Indian governments of this province.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Howard.
We go on to the institutions now, the colleges that were instituted by the chiefs of Saskatchewan, the first one being the cultural college. Alex Greyeyes will make the presentation.
Mr. Alex Greyeyes (Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College): The cultural college was started under the centre’s program on a national level in 1971, as Mr. Chénier is quite familiar with. The philosophy of the Indian Cultural College is based on the following principles: Indian control—the Indian Cultural College is a servant of all Saskatchewan Indian people in tbe area of educational and cultural enhancement. The Indian people formulate its policies and programs. They themselves wield the executive authority over the institution.
Pride in heritage: The fundamental aim of the cultural college is to develop in the Indian people a proud and positive self-image.
Bridging the cultures: The Indian Cultural College considers that it is important to bring about the understanding and appreciation of Indian culture to the larger Canadian society.
The overall purpose of the cultural college is to revive and perpetuate Indian culture, tradition, history. language, religion, all other aspects of the Indian way of life. Indian cultures are unique to this land. The only place our culture survives is in Indian reserves. We have a right to be born and live as Indian. A quotation here of Indian treaty negotiations:
What I offer does not take away your way of life. You will have it then as you have it now and what I offer is put on top of it.
The aims and objectives of the cultural college were stipulated under the centre’s program criteria. The cultural college picked out nine of the ten criteria that were set out in 1971. The nine are: The general philosophy of the Indian Cultural College will be articulated through the following specific objectives. The college will maintain a comprehensive and a sensitive communication network with all Indian communities so that it may plan and implement the activities with assured knowledge of the needs and wishes of the people. For the same reason, the cultural college will develop a system of obtaining advice, guidance from our elders. To further ensure that the cultural college will continue to attend to the educational needs of people at all levels, decision-making authority for the institution will be kept in the hands of the elected representativm of the Saskatchewan Indians, the executive of the FSIN.
The college will create educational programs in such areas as history, philosophy, religion, art, literature, social science, in order to help our young people develop a proud Indian identification.
It will promote the teaching of courses that are uniquely suited to the demands of the reserve life.
It will identify support and promote talent in Indian art and professions and sports.
It will collect, produce and circulate written and audio-visual materials dealing with Indian people.
It will act as a clearing-house for research concerning Indians in the Province of Saskatchewan that is necessary in order to protect our people from misinterpretation and to preserve authenticity of our cultural tradition.
It will provide assistance, consultation, and direction to all agencies serving the Indian people of Saskatchewan. An example of these would be the Indian Affairs branch, the provincial Department of Education and the University of Saskatchewan.
It will give all possible help to Indian bands in such matters as planning of schools, improvement of schools’ curriculum, training of teachers as well as other staff.
It will develop, in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and the Community College, university accredited courses related to Indian culture, Indian dance, music, law and Indian political science.
With that, which is sort of brief, the material which I have tabled with the clerk today is the material that has been produced and circulated throughout Saskatchewan; also a document of Indian control of Indian people in Saskatchewan
presented to Prime Minister Trudeau in 1975 is in the complete kit.
One other thing, on a national level, is the survival of this cultural education centre’s program. There are 62 centres in Canada. Saskatchewan is the largest, and there is Nova Scotia. These are the only two provinces in Canada that have one cultural centre’s program. There is in the criteria one thing lacking, and that is capital expenditures within the program. This is one of the most important things.
There is no room for expansion. And Mr. Chenier was presented with the document in March 1982. You have this in your kit.
With that, I would like to thank the panel.
Chief Poitras: Thanks, Alex.
We will now go to the federated college. Dennis Acoose will make the presentation.
Mr. Denis Acoose (Saskatchewan Indian Federated College): I would like to thank the chiefs, the senators, the elders and the committee on Indian self-government for giving ourselves, the technicians, the opportunity to speak to you as a committee. Hopefully, we can give you our perspective, in terms of Indian controlled institutions.
The Saskatchewan Indian Federated College is an Indian institution of higher education. I would like to make reference to tabling the documents in the red folder you have received. Hopefully, I will not take too much time in explaining the process of Indian higher education. I have presented my notes to the committee.
Also the legal status of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, as you may witness on Appendices 1, 2, 3 and 4. I would like to make special reference to our college calendar, which you may refer to, and also our organizational structure of the Indian Federated College, on page 4.
We, as an Indian higher education institution, recognize Indian culture and history that is imperative in order to understand contemporary Indian culture within today’s society, and I must add that it is well understood that it is recognized at the University of Regina. I would also like to say something about our philosophy. It is exemplified by Indian culture and the wisdom of elders and our own professional competency. To go on further, these elements have brought together a unique bicultural approach to university education, which hopefully will give our graduates a more solid base than previous institutions which have attempted to provide Indian students at a university level a background that other institutions felt necessary to provide.
There is quite a history, which I will not get into, in terms of the development of the college previous to 1976, but I would like to refer to our historic month of May in 1976. The senate
of the University of Regina, and also the executive council of the university, unanimously approved a proposal from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College to establish federated status with that university, meaning that we were to be administratively independent and also academically integrated with the University of Regina. Along with that, federation brought certain terms and I would just like to read the terms, if I may.
There will be interaction and agreement on academic program matters between the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and the University of Regina deans and department heads.
Members of the college teaching staff must possess qualifications sufficiently high to be recognized members of appropriate faculties.
College programs are open to all students, with priority given to Indian students of Indian and Inuit ancestry.
Students enrolled in the college must satisfy the University of Regina requirements for admission. They shall be admitted to such university classes as they are qualified to enter on the same basis as any other university students.
The college may offer off-campus extension courses in a similar manner as those given by the University of Regina.
And those are the terms and conditions that we have with the university, and I must say that relationship is solidly in place.
To refer to our objectives as a college federated with the university, our objectives are as follows.
To have direct control and administration of an institution of education by the Indian people of Saskatchewan.
To research, develop and implement methods and programs to make the educational process relevant to Indian people of Saskatchewan.
To maintain and promote various Indian cultures of Saskatchewan in terms of histories, beliefs and values.
And that is the essence of our objectives.
I would like to make reference to the organizational structure of the college. Like any other institution. we have a decision-making body as represented by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, as represented by the Indian people of Saskatchewan. In our structure, of course, we have gone through many difficulties in establishing the institution. It has seen periods of growth that probably no other institution of higher learning has had within the past seven years. Consequently, with that growth, we restructured and, as it exists on page 4, that is the structure that we have adopted within the college. For your reference, the operational plan is here, which I have not tabled. If you find it necessary, we can provide it. I would like to make reference to point 5, that off-campus extension courses will be provided by the college in a similar manner as the University of Regina.
One of our major priorities as a federated college is to offer programs and classes in Indian communities. Consequently, our extension program has found that a growing demand by on-reserve residents for university and professional training programs has increased dramatically. In 1977 we had approximately 270 part-time students. They were all part-time. I should make note that in the 1982-1983 academic year we have 450 part-time and full-time students off campus to date. I think it is imperative that the extension program continue to offer community-based university and professional training. In many instances this process has been successful in promoting meaningful training programs in the community. And I will explain the difficulties of that process later on.
I would now like to make reference to the legal status of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College. Under the University of Regina Act, we have obtained a legal status as recognized by the Province of Saskatchewan to provide university degrees, diplomas and certificates through this federation, and I quote from the senate of the University of Regina:
The Senate may provide for affilation or federation of any college established for the promotion of art or science or the instruction in law, medicine, engineering, agriculture, or any other useful branch of learning, and for the dissolution of affiliation or the modification or alteration of the terms thereof.
And I would like to make reference to Appendix 1 on those terms of federation for your information.
I would like to go into the aspect of Indian control and Indian people’s desire to have control and responsibility for education decisions and directions as a treaty right to education. Indian education policy must work in concert with a duly elected Indian education authority, as expressed by Mr. Clive Linklater, in order to overcome the present difficulties with our institutions. For example, limited funding through the Department of Indian Affairs have not adequately addressed the needs and requirements of Indian higher education in Saskatchewan. Dual administration has also accounted for a very inadequate delivery system for university and professional training.
I would now like to get into the problems or issues that relate to those very important and difficult situations that we get into in respect to the bureaucracy. One of the most significant and more frustrating aspects of the college’s administration is the method of decentralizing funds to districts. Often the offices of the Department of Indian Affairs complicate and delay matters with respect to tuition payments and research and development payments.
Data base projections are inadequate or inaccurate with respect to two areas which often are traded off against one another: university professional budget and occupational skills budget.
The economic conditions as they relate to Saskatchewan and in turn relate to other areas within federal departments: Economic conditions have seen increasing numers of Indian people desiring to seek a professional education relevant to their own communities’ needs in education, social work, administration and the social sciences; i.e., Indian studies, economics, psychology, sociology, the languages, the sciences, etc. I must say that with respect to the above—the two areas, university and professional and occupational skills—industrial—related training and resulting employment in industry, i.e., manufacturing, mining, tourism and services have not provided a sufficient marketable option to trained Indian people at all levels, on and off reserve-based industries. In other words, not all Indian adults desire to be carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, draftsmen, etc. Electricians may want to become electrical engineers; draftsmen may want to pursue a civil engineering degree. I would say Canadian universities that are not Indian controlled, or Indian controlled institutions within Canadian universities, tend to be insensitive to the needs of Indian communities based upon Canadian society’s needs for technological advancement.
I come to you, the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, from a professional institution—which happens to be an Indian institution—that recognizes the needs of Indian people to receive training at higher educational levels. This is reflected in the SIFC mandate and its objectives, as reflected by the Indian people of Saskatchewan and as represented by the executive council of the FSIN and the college’s own board of directors.
I would like to reflect on the fourth point. We are increasingly seeing a lot of Indian adults entering the University of Regina and the SIFC because of the resulting failures of joint schools, residential schools, who were controlled by the Department of Indian Affairs.
We have seen many Indian students who were in that system in the 19505, the 1960s and the early 1970s; and we have seen increasing attendance of Indian adults between the ages of 19 and 45 at our institution. As a result of that, we have had to provide remedial and upgrading programs, which have been established by the college in order to accommodate this influx of Indian students seeking higher education.
It was indicated to me—and I feel it is important—that those people we put through those programs are serious in attaining that level of education. It was indicated to our registrar of the college that 86% of our graduates, as a result of that process, have graduated from our programs through the mature student category or adult education area. It is imperative this process continue for the better development of our human resources.
I would like to get on to the funding agreement. The Saskatchewan Indian Federated College agreement was signed in July 1981. It is basically for tuition fee payments and research and development for a period of over five years, which will end in 1985-1986 fiscal year.
I would like to mention we have been having some problems in terms of being able to administer the agreement—I have provided the agreement before you—for the operation and maintenance of the college. The agreement is based upon tuition fee payments to the institution. Consequently, we rely heavily on enrolments; and with increased enrolments over the past, especially the past three years, we have found there is an inability of the Department of Indian Affairs to provide the level of funding in order to operate the institution at the levels of enrolment we are now getting within the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College.
I guess we are getting short on time. I would just like to indicate to you, as further documentation, our enrolment statistics on Appendix III; Appendix IV, the evidence of funding difficulties; and the Department of Indian Affairs regional statements.
Just to give you some indication of the difficulties we had in terms of not being able to provide a sufficient funding base for the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, particularly this semester, for the 1983 winter semester we have 436 registrations at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College. We have calculated that 156 students who registered at the college have been affected by recent DIA policy, and I must say that is quite a significant impact within the institution. A breakdown of these 156 students shows 105 DIA-sponsorable students were denied sponsorship and had to drop their classes. Fifty-one other students were forced to seek alternative funding arrangements. Forty-seven were sponsored by CEIC, the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission; three students were subsequently dropped; two students decided to pay their own tuition and books; and two other students are receiving SIFC support.
I would also like to say that 18 out of our 21 classes off-campus have not been funded to date as a result of the inadequate funding base for university and professional programs within the Department of Indian Affairs regional office.
I would like to make reference to the two last pages on the kinds of concerns we have had from such groups as the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and Luther College, which is another federated college of the University of Regina. What our option will be is to seek core funding and negotiate core funding from a base that any other institution has across Canada.
I would like to thank the committee for listening to me. I hate to bring up those kinds of situations, but I felt it was necessary in the struggle of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College. I am sure other endeavours of Indian higher education across Canada will have some of the difficulties we have now. I thank you.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Dennis.
We will now go to the community college and have Ray Ahenakew make the presentation.
Mr. Ray Ahenakew (Director, Saskatchewan Indian Community College): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to have my next statement recorded for the committee’s purpose. We see no age barrier in the field of education guaranteed to us under treaty. Here are some hard facts you might not understand here in the Province of Saskatchewan. We have approximately 53,000 registered Indians within our province, of which 75% are under the age of 30.
Our unemployment rate is at an annual average of 72%. Our drop-out rate is at an average of 80%. If 20% of the Indian students entering the labour market were eligible for training, we would have approximately 500 students per year. In the training institutions within the province of Saskatchewan here, we have 20 students at the minimum enrolled per year. The rest is pretty well done through our college.
The conclusions are quite obvious: Unemployment is directly related to lack of skills for our people here in Saskatchewan. We should have approximately 500 enrolments every year where we have 20; that is at the other technical institutes throughout the province. I think the message is pretty clear that, if we do not start training now, there is going to be a serious problem in the long term, which is going to be the end of the 1980s.
The community college was established in 1976. The establishment of the Saskatchewan Indian Community College was a major breakthrough for Indian educators in this province. We are also incorporated under the Commmunity Colleges Act here in the Province of Saskatchewan. As a result of establishing the community college, all 69 bands in this province gave a broad mandate to the college to identify, develop and deliver specified training programs designed to meet the actual needs of the Indian people on the reserves in this province.
Our aims and objectives have not changed that much: provision of all ruources and services to Indian people, identification of specialized programs, meeting the training needs of Indian people in this province, never endangering traditional lifestyles of Indian people, greater control of Indian education by Indian people—I am going to make one comment later on, which I would like you to remember, on our aims and objectives relating to this point—catering to all treaty and status adult Indians on and off reserve, preparing Indian adults for eventual employment in this province or wherever.
On-reserve training: Some of the problems we have in policy. Indian Affairs provide limited funds for the training of Indian people, and I do not think anybody around here will deny that. Over the past couple of years, the department has taken what I am going to call basic adult education, which was under the Department of Indian Affairs Education Branch,
and has moved this program over to the economic development sector.
I would like to refer that back to my first statement where I said I do not see any age barrier coming into play with education. This was done with no input from Indian people; it was done across all of Canada. They gave us the courtesy of being the last province to have this turned over. It is turned over officially already but will not come into place, in my understanding, until the new year. Hopefully, this will be taken into consideration.
This college has to negotiate funding every year from the provincial government. CEIC, for training days that should be guaranteed to us under treaty. There is a lack of quality facilities on reserves. We talk about recreation, but you can imagine the lack of facilities we have for adult education in trades, skills or whatever. It is quite a way down, which is quite essential.
We are encountering other problems. Indian Affairs and CEIC will no longer sponsor treaty Indian students into pre-skill training programs. It is something that has not really hit us here but is going to hit us in the next year. We would like to have the committee take note of this, too. It all relates back to the changing over from education, which we consider a treaty right, to economic development.
Technical schools will not accept Indians who do not meet their entrance standards. If you relate back to the drop-out rate of 80% I mentioned previously, if ABE is not going to be recognized, then how the hell are we going to get our people into skills, trades or university entrance? It is going to be impossible. I think you can see the problems we are going to have, if something like that is not addressed shortly.
The province will not sponsor treaty Indians on any of these courses, too, because of their claim that it is a federal responsibility. It leaves us shaking our heads, wondering what is really happening here. Everybody seems to be shifting from education and economic development. Provinces come back to us with: It is a federal responsibility. It is something we have to try to address, I guess.
In conclusion, we have some limited resources on reserves. As I mentioned before, the facilities are very inadequate. Off-reserve, we have the policy dispute that is preventing our Indians from entering any of these institutions plus our own. We have our own entrance level.
I think our solution would be—I have tabled all our documents and I will read it for the record when I am finished—the Saskatchewan Indian Training Institute Plan, on-reserve Indian training centres, the Saskatchewan Indian Management Training Institute, better management programs. All require authority and funds to provide services for Indians on and off reserves.
I will just go through the documents. They are already tabled. First is the Saskatchewan Indian Training Institute Plan. Overall, it is still the number one concern. We have an executive summary to go along with it. We have the Saskatchewan Indian Training Institute Plan, Phase I, which is currently in Ottawa. We also have an executive summary to go along with that. We have the Saskatchewan Indian Management Training Institute Plan, which is registered, and a longterm funding proposal for the Saskatchewan Indian Community College, which is also included in there.
I think that will pretty well wrap up what I have to say. Thank you very much.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Ray.
The last item we have to present is the off-reserve or urban situation that exists in the province. We will have Elsie Roberts make the presentation.
Ms Elsie Roberts (Saskatchewan Services for Off-Reserve Treaty Indians): Thank you, Chief Poitras.
Elders, senators, chiefs, ladies and gentlemen and members of the subcommittee, a recent decision by the Department of Indian Affairs to discontinue the provision of education assistance to treaty Indians living off the reserve once again highlights the attempts being made by the federal government to erode trwty rights.
The treaties form the basis of all our rights, including education rights, as clearly demonstrated in the following excerpt from Treaty 6:
Further, Her Majesty agrees to make such provision as may from time to time be deemed advisable for the education of Indian children.
We refute the reasons given by the Department of Indian Affairs for discontinuing education assistance to us who live off the reserve. I understand some of the reasons they have given are that band-controlled schools have taken up all the money available for Indian education, that they have no legal basis for the provision of education assistance for Indians living off reserves; and the third reason is that it is against their education guidelines, most specifically what we refer to as the E-12 guidelines.
We refute those reasons, because Indians secure their rights under treaty, under the BNA Act and under the Canadian Constitution. Those three legal sources guarantee Indian rights. The Indian Act and its implementation and interpretation by Indian Affairs are being used to deny us those rights.
The migration of Indians from reserves to urban centres in Saskatchewan is relatively recent. Chief Poitras has tabled two documents which the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians had their legal people do. One is entitled A Treaty Position for Off-Reserve Indians and the other one is entitled A Constitu-
tional Position for Off-Reserve Indians. Included in those documents are percentages of the treaty Indians who live off the reserve in Saskatchewan, and the percentage right now is near 15%. It also includes projections.
The department’s concern over the migration patterns is highlighted in one of their recent publications, called Indian Conditions: A Survey, commissioned by Indian Affairs in Ottawa in 1980. According to this publication, the number of Indians living off-reserve has increased from 45,000 in 1966 to 99,000 in 1982. It is predicted that the population of Indians in urban centres throughout Canada will rise to 110,000 over the next decade. The implications are clear. The substantial increase in the number of Indians living off reserve results in a considerable saving of resources by the department, if services to these Indians are cut off, A new and different interpretation of the Indian Act enables the department to carry out this withdrawal of services.
In that same survey, it is pointed out that the greatest proportion of Indians living in urban centres are young, It says: “Levels of educational attainment among off-reserve Indians appear to be well below those of the average Canadian.” In Saskatchewan, a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations study indicated that about 40% of men and 40% of women had completed eight or fewer years of formal education.
Obviously, the need for better educational opportunities for Indians living off reserve is great. The decision to curtail educational assistance for off-reserve Indians will only significantly increase that problem. These are some of the impacts that decision has… These three factors—the tremendous need for better educational opportunities, the growing number of Indians living off the reserve and the lack of resources the department has to meet its obligations and commitments—appear to have instigated the change in the educational assistance policy.
Interestingly, at one time the Department of Indian Affairs… The policy used to promote assimilation was the integration policy, by entering into off-reserve joint school arrangements and residential schools, as Chief Poitras referred to. Now the Indian governments in Saskatchewan are asserting their authorities and insisting Canada live up to its part of the treaty bargain by making resources available for education programs, services and institutions designed, controlled and delivered by Indians. So Indian Affairs is again pulling out the old Indian Act trick; and this time, they want to slough off their responsibilities to the provinces.
In any case, when any service is provided by the province to Indian education, they are reimbursed 100%. So they really do not get away from it at all; they do not want the Indians to have control.
The existing rights of treaty Indians are recognized and affirmed in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Thus, it
then becomes a question of who is an Indian. When the treaties were signed, there were no questions regarding residence requirements for entitlement by an Indian. Without any explicit clause being needed, treaties are seen to inure to the benefit of the legal descendants of the signatories of the treaties, as determined by the internal political rules of the nation or community signing the treaty, not by parties signing opposite. In other words, the determination of ones status as an Indian rests with the Indian governments, not with the federal government. The present attempt by the department to restrict educational assistance to Indians living off reserve runs counter to this principle.
The policy also runs counter to the expression of authority in the BNA Act. This act gave jurisdiction and legislative authority for Indians and lands reserved for Indians in Section 91.(24) to the Canadian government. This comes from that paper I was talking about, Constitutional Position for Off-Reserve Indians:
For the Imperial Parliament to have exempted for regular treatment a racial grouping (Indians) and a territorial jurisdiction, land reserved for Indians, was to create in its fledgling form special status for Indian people, based upon the two fundamentals of nationhood being distinct racial or cultural and social grouping and territorial sovereignty.
Interestingly, the BNA Act differentiates between Indians and lands reserved for Indians. They are not necessarily dependent on each other. One can be, despite Indian Affairs policy, an Indian without being resident on a reserve.
The Indian governments in Saskatchewan have declared they have jurisdiction over and responsibility for all their band members. They never even take into consideration the question of residency, and they enter into any negotiations with other governments with that guiding principle.
Chief Poitras: Thank you, Elsie.
That concludes our presentation. May I wrap up the comments made by the evidence given from the people here on the panel?
We feel you have heard the problems encountered in the recent past, especially because the 1970s was the development of education in Saskatchewan. We also brought you the concerns we do have on education, regarding all components of education. It is a wide range because it is the key, in our view, to the development of all the areas on which we must improve, especially into the professional areas, into the employment areas. There seems to be a need right through, as indicated by the people who are here.
Past and recent developments have led us to conclude that the future. . .The lessons of the past are obvious. There must be two guiding principles governing Indian education in the
future: First, Indian people must have effective control over Indian education; and second, it is the responsibility of the federal Government of Canada to provide whatever support is necessary to further the cause of Indian education.
With those two principles, I would like to thank the panel for listening; and I want to thank my cohorts for their delivery of the presentations. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much, Chief Poitras.
I must say we have learned a lot about education, and you have certainly given us our homework. The documents are impressive, and I know we will go through them when we get back to Ottawa.
In that light, I would like the committee to agree that this kit be tabled with the committee as an exhibit. The full kit will be in Ottawa for each and every one of you to look at, in case you have missed any one of the docments. That will be filed. Is it agreed that be done?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Vice-Chairman: Also, certain documents, referred to by Mr. Ahenakew in the order form as publications from the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, should be filed as an exhibit. Is that agreed as well?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Vice-Chairman: We now will have all the documents available not only to the committee members who are here, but to those who were not able to make it today.
We have some time left for questions, if that is in order; and I know there will be some questions. We will start with Mr. Chenier.
Mr. Chénier: I have one question and one comment, Mr. Chairman.
The first question is: How many bands in Saskatchewan are still under master tuition agreements? Do you know?
Mr. Ahenakew: There are no master tuition agreements in Saskatchewan. They are with each individual band, and I would assume approximately 40% to 50% of the bands have tuition agreements with joint schools.
Mr. Chénier: Are they 25-year agreements?
Mr. Ahenakew: The old agreements went in perpetuity. For the new agreements, bands have now negotiated a provision for opting out of the agreements.
Mr. Chénier: Okay, thank you. I think it is quite important, Mr. Chairman, if bands are going to take control of their education, that these tuition agreements that were made in perpetuity be looked at to see if the Indian bands can get out of them.
My second is not a question; it is a comment. Chief Angus McLean was talking about recreation and education, and then I heard the people here talking about elementary education.
When we get back to Ottawa, Mr. Chairman, I think we should call on the Education Branch of the department.
Two years ago, they promised me they were going to look into their planning for construction of schools. I had been after them, telling them the school buildings we were putting up were substandard in that there were no general-purpose areas or gyms in in most elementary schools. They told me they were studying that and they were hoping there would be a paper coming out, I think, last fall. I do not think it is out yet, unless I have missed it. But certainly, I think we should meet with them and press that, when they do build schools on reserves or on band lands, those schools offer all the services any other school would offer to any other Canadian.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you for that suggestion, Mr. Chenier. I am sure we are going to follow that up.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the representatives for a wide range of presentations dealing with education.
I would like to ask a series of questions now, Mr. Chairman: and perhaps if another area of interest is not covered, I could have a second round. But I will just deal with one at the present time, and that deals with the subject of Elsie Roberts’ presentation and the whole question of off-reserve funding.
As you know, this question has come up before in this committee. When Justice officials were asked about the reason why off-reserve funding for students was discontinued, they indicated it was simply because the appropriations bill did not have the right wording. When I asked the minister about this, at first he agreed. Then he disagreed and said he would get a more detailed answer.
I would like to read part of that answer. It says:
During the fiscal years 1980-1981 and 1981-1982, the regions were periodically reviewing their operations for the purpose of bringing their expenditures in line with their financial resources.
That is a fancy way of saying the amount of money was being cut back.
In doing this, the regions gave priority to elementary and secondary educational services for on-reserve students who did not have access to any other source of funding. As a result, some regions began to reduce or discontinue such services to off-reserve students. At the same time, the Department’s authority for the provision of educational services to off-reserve students was questioned.
Some regions discontinued the service to off-reserve students and others continued, and so they decided that they would
have one policy for all across Canada; namely, to discontinue it.
This would make everything very simple for the department. This ensured a uniformity of action by all regions with regard to the provision of elementary and secondary educational services to Indian students not resident on reserves. Although the matter of the Minister’s responsibility in this area is still being pursued, there is no clear indication at this time that the status will change.
So there still seems to be some uncertainty about whether or not the minister does have authority.
Then I would like to read this paragraph. I would like to get Elsie Roberts’ comment on it and perhaps some other comments on it, because I think it is significicant. It says:
There is a possibility that changes in the overall roles and responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments for the provision of services to Indian people could flow from decisions pending in the Constitutional process.
Do you see any good decision regarding this educational thing coming out of the current constitutional process?
Ms Roberts: I know my leaders in Saskatchewan are going to approach the Constitution table with certain positions, and I know one of them is going to be that there will be no valid delegation from the federal government to the provinces of any authority regarding the Indians, unless the Indian nations consent. We are represented by our Indian government leaders at that table.
Mr. Manly: I think Mr. Linklater would like to comment also, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Linklater: Yes, I would like to make a comment on the question regarding the Constitution.
It states: “Existing aboriginal and treaty rights of Indian people are hereby recognized and affirmed”. One of those treaty rights is education rights; and we say this section of the Constitution applies to all Indians, whether on or off reserves. Our position regarding treaties is that the education rights for Indians apply to all Indians, whether on or off reserves, at all levels. So the section on the legal interpretation regarding the Indian Act . . . The Indian Act itself will have to be revised in order lit the constitutional position regarding treaty rights.
Mr. Manly: So I could take it that the position of Saskatchewan Indians would be quite clearly that they do not want to see any change in the constitutional provision, that the federal government is responsible for Indian education; and it is your position that this includes off-reserve Indian people as well as on-reserve?
Mr. Linklater: All Indians, yes.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Manly.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One of the areas on which I was going to question has been covered by Mr. Manly. I am thankful for the comments that have been made on that point because I think the answer we got is wholly inadequate. and I think we should go back to the minister with a series of other questions. I think it was very skilfully worded to evade the issues.
We have another response—I understand we will be talking about this tomorrow, so I will hang on to it—on the issue in Saskatchewan about the Indian university students, the recent blow-up that has occurred here. I see we have some news clippings. When we have Mr. Fiddler before us tomorrow, I understand we will be looking at that; so I will save my question for that.
One thing I would like to say is that we hear so much evidence in this committee about Indian government, and many people have expressed frustration with the fact that it is so conceptual they cannot hang on to it. One thing that has happened this afternoon is we have seen some very concrete illustration of what it means and how at least the Indian governments in this province have pushed it to the limit in the education area, under current law and current arrangements, and are now pushing beyond. It seems to me this is where this committee comes in, where we have to make the changes in the Canadian laws to allow Indian government to exercise its full power and remove some of those restrictions that are afflicting you.
I have had a look at the 1983-1984 estimates that are now in committee; and Saskatchewan, on a per capita share in operating alone, is due to have 272 person-years, $30 million. Their share of Indian Affairs grants and contributions is $36 million for education, which adds up to almost $10,000 a year per family of five. I would be interested to see how much of that effectively reaches the Indian people, because it seems to me you could do a much better job of delivering education to Indian people than the current department can.
There are two parts to my question. First, the same estimates, under capital for education, list only one item for Saskatchewan; that is, completion of Thunderchild School. I wonder if that reflects your needs or if that reflects their decision. That is the only one in the estimates, Stan. I have them here.
The other question is this, and it is also out of the estimates. The department says:
It assists and supports Indians to have access to educational programs and services which are responsive to their needs and aspirations, consistent with the concept of Indian control of Indian education.
It also says it is focusing the education program to meet major Indian social needs.
I wonder if you want to comment on that. Do you see that happening; first, on the capital—are your needs beyond the one school that is listed?—and second, on the effectiveness of what the department states are its goals?
Mr. Linklater: Can we have the first question once more, please?
Ms Jamieson: Sure. The first one is on the Thunderchild School. That is the only one listed in the estimates as being provided for. It is the only single capital allocation for 1983-1984 in the Saskatchewan region. I wonder if you could tell me if you have needs that go beyond. Do you have other capital needs?
Mr. Linklater: I do not know if we have the expert here. Okay, Gary.
Mr. Waters: Maybe we could table with the committee later on a study undertaken by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations two years ago, called Our Children are Waiting, which was a major study of capital requirements in Saskatchewan on Indian reserves. The conclusions drawn were: First, there was substantial need for new capital facilities of an immediate nature; and second and as important, those guidelines now around the requirements for building of schools had to be changed drastically due to the basis that they would only allow, in many communities, the the construction of classrooms. As one gentleman said, the ancillary services like gymnasiums, industrial shops, etc., cannot be provided within the guidelines; and may I add that these guidelines are substantially much different from provincial guidelines, which provide for much higher-quality facilities for schools with the same nmber of students.
So I would draw your attention to that document. I think, Roberta, you are correct in terms of saying needs are much greater than the present resources being provided.
The Vice-Chairman: If I may interject, we already have the document tabled today. It is in the kit and it will be available for us.
Mr. Chénier: Just as a supplementary to what Roberta was saying, I think it would be fairly easy, Mr. Chairman, to get from their agent a list of priorities for the construction of schools in Saskatchewan. If you were to look at that list, I am sure the priorities probably go to 1997 or so.
Ms Jamieson: The second part of the question was on the stated goals and objectives of the department in its estimates document it has tabled. In the back of my head, I wonder why you need a department at all in this province. Why do you not just . . . ? I assume you are advocating receiving your money directly in one lump sum.
It assists and supports Indians to have access to educational programs and services which are responsive to their needs and aspirations, consistent with the concept of Indian control of Indian education.
They also say they are focusing the education program to meet major Indian social needs. I wonder if you would comment on the effectiveness of this.
Chief Poitras: Elsie.
Ms Roberts: Yes, Roberta. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations are presently negotiating with the federal government for a block transfer of funds under the Established Programs Financing Act, and we propose to break out the Indian portion of that money. We can put it to far better use than the province has. Well, they have not, because we do not accept services for them; but they do take out money. We have limited resources, as was indicated by the directors of the various institutions.
Ms Jamieson: I understand we will hear more about the EPF financing tomorrow, so maybe I will hang on until then to get into that. I take it, from all the evidence we have heard today, you would agree they are not meeting the goals they have outlined and that you could meet them in a much better fashion.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That is all.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Roberta.
Mr. Manly, would you have one further supplementary?
Mr. Manly: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask Mr. Acoose about a letter that is tabled here with an appendix for December 29 from Dr. Glen Sinclair, the Director of Education. I quote:
It should be noted that we are not closing the doors to self-determination or a higher education, but rather redirecting our training emphasis. The process over the past three or four years of putting the majority of post-school moneys in the UP program, has not shown dividends parallel to those gained from other similar endeavours in other institutions throughout Canada.
Could you comment on that assertion from Dr. Sinclair? Is that a fair assessment or not?
Mr. Acoose: I would have to say Mr. Sinclair’s remarks in respect to his description here of our post-school programs, or in our institution, in respect to Indian students entering the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and the University of Regina. . . Basically, we are going through a process, in increasing numbers in the past two to three years, which has led to putting these students presently in the system into various faculties of the university of their interest, whichever professional area they want to go into.
First of all, it does not take one or two years, or even three or four years, to get results from students in terms of graduating. In terms of making that statement. I think he is jumping the gun in not giving us the chance to give results within four years.
Mr. Manly: So the department is looking for a quick fix rather than taking a long-term point of view.
Mr. Acoose: Basically, that is what the statement implies to me, yes. and to our institution.
Mr. Manly: There is a rather strange definition of self-determination here. It is a good example of jargon. I would just like to read it into the record. He says:
Therefore, the doors of higher education are not being closed. Rather, by better monitoring and utilization of resources, realization of self-determination via application of trained skills will be accomplished.
Is that your understanding of self-determination?
Mr. Acoose: No. I cannot understand why his rationale is for trained skills to be accomplished through self-determination. It is a very irrational statement from what I can see.
Mr. Manly: Just in closing, I hope it is not the department’s definition of self-determination, either. But I rather wonder from the contents of their policy here.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Acoose: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Linklater, would you like to . . . ?
Mr. Linklater: One of the big difficulties we have with regard to education and the Department of Indian Affairs is this. The department interprets decisions and even laws that we disagree with; their interpretation of the Indian Act, for example, as the one you quoted. They have given their own interpretation of that Indian Act, but have never given us the opportunity to have our legal people interpret our version of that Indian Act; and so now we are being ruled by legal interpretations which we can never challenge. We think we should be given the opportunity to challenge that.
You all have this document; but just the same, I would like to read it into the record regarding off reserve. This is the government’s own Indian control of Indian education policy paper, and it states very clearly and specifically in this paper regarding off-reserve Indians.
We strongly maintain that it is the financial responsibility of the federal government to provide the education of all types and all levels to all status Indian people, whether living on or off reserves.
Now, that is the policy the government itself has accepted, and it is very clear and specific in this statement that they provide education services to all people. So their legal interpretation—or whose-ever legal interpretation it is—is clearly against the treaties, and it is clearly against their own policy they have adopted.
That is the difficulty we have in dealing with the department regarding self decision-making by Indian governments. It is up
to the Indian people, through their governments at band and district levels, to make decisions. But what has happened with the Department of Indian Affairs is that they make their own executive and administrative decisions that limit the rights of Indian bands, as governments, to make their own political decisions.
That is what really needs to happen as far as self-government is concerned, that Indian bands, at the band, district or regional level, make their own political decisions. That is what it is, but we are now being ruled by executive and administrative decisions of Indian Affairs.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much.
I see no further questions, and we have masterfully used our time. We are right on time, which is excellent.
I really want to thank you very much, each and every one of you, for the impressive statements and documentation you have put before us. They will be very valuable as we do our work in recommendations in the area of education. Thank you so much for that.
I now propose to adjourn this part of the meeting. We will start again at 7.00 p.m. with presentation number 7, statements by three chiefs. Thank you. The meeting is adjourned until 7.00 pm.
The Vice-Chairman: I call the evening session of the special committee to order.
I welcome the witnesses to the table this evening. We have with us Chief Ben Toutsaint, Acting Chief Norbert Fern, Elder and Senator Louis Chicken—it is good to see you again, Senator—Chief Joe Quewesance, Mr. Lance Ahenekew, Andy Michael and Ernie Ahenekew. Thank you very much.
You may proceed, then, when you are ready.
Chief Ben Toutsaint (Interpretation): At first, this land or what they call reserves, which they gave us, is what I wish to speak about. There is now a population of over 700 people on that reserve. When that reserve was given to us, outside people were not supposed to interfere with that reserve without our consent.
We made a contract with Eldorado for them to explore that land for five years, and they were to pay us $50,000 a year for every year they were on that land. That was the original agreement or understanding. The following year, they gave us only $30,000 a year. Today, none of our band members are working with that company.
When they come into that reserve and start exploring or doing whatever they wish to do, we do not even know when they get there. Quite often, we do not even know when they leave. They are just doing their own thing, you might say. This
land we are working on is your land. They never approach us and say: this is your land; can we come back this year and explore again? They do not even ask us.
In the far north of the reserve where I come from, there are no jobs, no development. If they do not get welfare assistance, those people do not have anything to live on. Those companies do not come to us and say: because we are working on your land, we are going to hire your band members. Not once do they ask us that.
Now, today, it looks as if their explorations are heading even right into the waters. I have seen their tracks on the lakes, on the snow on top of the ice. I have seen their tracks up there from the air.
Now, towards the mining that is going on at Rabbit Lake-that is on Wollaston Lake—the chiefs who have spoken to what I said feel I am right in what is happening. That mine is situated at Rabbit Lake. Those waters also flow into the Fond du Lac River, into the settlements of Stony Rapids and Fond du Lac. If something happens at that mine, those communities are going to be affected as well, such as the fish, wildlife and the people, too.
That is why I feel very strongly that the uranium development that is going on should be very closely watched, so that nothing drastic happens.
We Indian people from that area do not know for a fact whether or not uranium is dangerous. We do not know, but a lot of white people have approached us and told us it is a dangerous element.
In the future, whatever those companies wish to do on those reserves, before they do any developments or explorations, I would like to see them first approach the chief and council and say: this is what we want to do on your land. The only way anything will work is if we talk those things out together. If we do not try to do it together, nothing will ever work.
I wish to speak further on some things relating to the treaties when they were first signed, to give you some history of our treaty.
When those treaties were first signed, the way it must have happened is that the Indian people—or in our case, the Chipewyan Indian people—were not the ones who asked to sign those treaties.
What we were apparently told is when those treaties were signed, it seems the white people who signed those treaties with us had put some strong, heavy words in those treaties. They had apparently told us, as long as that rock is sitting on that ground, that sun is shining and that water is flowing, those treaties would not be broken. These things we live off-caribou, fishing, trapping—had apparently been promised us in those treaties; that they would not be taken away from us.
As long as we live, as long as we treaty people exist, we want to protect those treaty rights and maintain that lifestyle.
Since that treaty was signed, it seems like it is 100 years or that 100 years has passed and we are starting another 100 years. When those treaties were first signed, we people were poor people. What happened in that 100 years, the things that happened in our lifestyle, the way we lived—in the next 100 years we do not want anybody to try to take that away from US.
We people living in the far north, we are in a pitiful situation. The thing they call money—we are always in drastic need of that money. When we ask the government for funding, they are always, you might as well say, drastically cutting us short.
Those people who are supposed to be working for us-I believe by that he is referring to the Department of Indian Affairs—when we request funding of them, they should give us as much assistance as we request. They should not be trying to hold us back.
Anything that you try to accomplish or do, if you try to go the wrong way, that is going to win, but if you try to do good things, it is going to be hard. But that is the only way we can go.
Thank you for listening to me. That is all I have to say for now.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much for that presentation.
I have next Acting Chief Norbert Fern.
The Vice-Chairman: Acting Chief.
Acting Chief Norbert Fern (Fond du Lac Band, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations) (Interpretation): What I wish to say to you is more or less an information type of speaking. To us people living in the far north, it seems as if you are not aware of how we live or the problems we have.
We Indian people who live in the far north come from a cold part of the country. We also come from a part of the country that bears many hardships, and there are three basic, main things in our lifestyle that keep us alive: hunting, trapping, fishing. Those three things are the main things we depend on to maintain our lifestyle as well as exist. We cannot read or write English nor can we speak the English language. That is why we depend on those things to live.
People my age—there are a lot of people in that age group in the north where we live. When I was a child, in the area of those lands. there was no existence of any school in that area. That is why we, in my age group, never had a chance to go to school.
That is one of the reasons why trapping, hunting, and trapping in the wintertime is really the best time of the year for us. In the past, what helped us, our mainstay of life in the summertime up until three years ago, was commercial fishing.
It has now been three years since they have shut off that commercial fishing on us; what we used to live in the summertime—that has been taken away from us.
The lake that I am referring to is there on the map, at the top of the province. . . Lake Athabasca. In that lake there are lots and lots of fish; there is a lot of money in that lake. Although there is that fish, that resource to be harvested, and all that money in that lake, if you government people do not help us develop that resource, there is not anything we can do about it.
There is also talk about a dam being developed north of there, I believe—at Fort Smith, in that area. What is going to happen when that dam is developed? It will flood that area. It will also eventually destroy all the marine life in those lakes and that harvesting, or that money we could be making off that lake, is going to be destroyed for us.
Another reason, too, why they have so much trouble harvesting that fishing resource, is we do not have any roads into that area; any commercial fishing they do has to be shipped out of there by air. If there were some way you could help us in restarting the commercial fishing in that area, it would be a great help to those people there. That is why I am asking for this.
Ms Yooya: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, may I give you some background on this commercial fishing so that I can make you understand what he is talking about, get off my interpreting chair and talk as a witness?
The Vice-Chairman: Of course.
Ms Yooya: What Acting Chief Norbert Fern is referring to is the Gunnar fish plant. It is situated approximately 20 miles from Uranium City. There was a commercial fish plant that existed there. In the past they had been getting subsidies from the federal government to subsidize treaty Indian fishermen in the summertime, but within the last three years Indian Affairs has been telling them that the department is not making money out of the fish plant, that it is going in the hole.
They told the band membership, and he is one of the fishermen, that they owe freshwater fisheries $60,000, that until such time as that $60,000 bill is cleared up by those fishermen, the fish plant cannot be reopened. That is just for one year. One of the reasons I requested to get off my interpreting chair is that we spoke to this topic at some length together, as a group. Therefore, it is not just one person; it is all of us.
The Department of Indian Affairs in one month, especially in the winter months—it is not unusual to see them spend $60,000 per band per month for welfare. They say it is in the budget. Yet when you ask them for $60,000 for a whole year
or something, to help those people live through the whole summer—those people fishing at that commercial fishing plant would be off welfare for five or six months in the summertime—they do not take that into consideration. We do not understand their reasoning, and that is why I could not put it into proper wording, I guess, from his language to your language.
Acting Chief Fern (Interpretation): That commercial fishing we had in the summertime really helped us exist, paid for our boats and motors and, in turn, we went hunting with those boats. Now, in the summertime, we do not have any way of getting money to buy equipment to go hunting. We are just forced to, I do not know if you can call it exist or just barely exist.
That was the main point I wished to bring to your attention. That is all I have to say to you for now.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Acting Chief Fern.
I would now like to call upon Chief Joe Quewezance.
Chief Joe Quewezance (Nut Lake Band, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, on behalf of the Saskatoon District Indian governments, their people, I wish to thank you at this time for the opportunity to have input into the hearings on Indian government.
I want to continue discussion on the rights derived from the signing of the treaties, the main one being the right to Indian self-government. We have the right to choose our own form of governments. We did not cede this fundamental right by the treaties. We retained it. Our roots are deep into this land, and as long as they remain so we will not perish. We were made to feel strange in our own land. The European political system disrupted ours. The European education displaced ours. The European economic system created dependencies. The European culture brought chaos to ours. The European values crept in, replacing ours.
Our treaties negotiated by our forefathers did not call for our elimination as a people. Those treaties were a sacred agreement in which we gave up this great land for little in return. We kept only small parcels of land. As you know, Mr. Chairman, 128 acres for each person was allotted according to treaty, or one section for each family of five. We requested and were guaranteed certain rights to goods and services, including money, education, health, welfare aid, economic assistance and more.
The queen who made treaties with our forefathers said we would receive these things, but some of them over the years have been slowly eroded. Your government gives the Indians much of their services and money. As you well know, your
administration gets most of it. We only get a small portion of the so-called Indian benefit money.
Again, I must stress to the committee that this must change in the future. We will not accept any argument that serves no other purpose but to cloud or confuse the issue. Our governments existed for centuries before the Europeans arrived. Our treaties were made by our chiefs, headmen, our governments. Your ancestors acknowledged and accepted that. The treaties signed between our nation and representatives of the queen were permanent guarantees to protection of our property, protection of certain rights, and protection from interference in our governments.
It is the responsibility of the Government of Canada fully to implement the treaties and face up to the real and grave issues. Our governments change with time. but our rights do not change. Our institutions and programs can serve the real needs of the people to whom we are responsible. You agreed in the treaties to finance these needs, as well as provide other forms of assistance.
Your government has a clear responsibility to live up to the treaty. We will accept nothing short of enactment of all provisions of the treaties through a joint process between our governments, the Crown and the Government of Canada. These processes are outlined in other documents tabled with your committee throughout the last two days, I believe.
Also tabled with this committee is our convention, which was executed in February of 1982, which is this document. It clearly states the basic principles and conditions that comprise and are integral to our desired form of governments and institutions.
In the important areas concerning citizenship. or otherwise known as Indian band membership. your government was presumptuous in taking control of who is and who is not an Indian, and you call it membership. The rights and powers of our governments to decide questions of citizenship and band membership come from our status as a nation. We did not transfer that right to your government. We kept it.
Your government must change its attitude and accept that we have exclusive rights and powers in this and other areas. The responsibility of your government is to accept our laws and regulations governing marriage, divorce, adoption, guardianship and legitimacy. Your government has the responsibility of recognizing and affirming our laws and regulations on the whole question of citizenship.
In the areas of fiscal arrangements, one of the main areas of difficulty is the fiscal and financial arrangement between your governments and ours. Again, your government was presumptuous in demanding certain requirements of our governments in accounting for finances. Our responsibility is to our people and those treaty moneys must be transferred to our governments accordingly.
We are not an administrative extension of the Department of Indian Affairs. We are not social interest agencies. We are governments in our own right.
The Government of Canada must accept the fact that its responsibility to our people, through our government, is to provide the resources guaranteed in treaties, to develop and sustain our people economically, socially, politically, and allow them to determine their own future. Your government credits itself with using vast sums of money in Indian programs and assistance. Again, I would like to stress and make you aware of how much of that so-called Indian money reaches us, the Indians in our communities. Your committee should closely examine these proportions.
Your committee should see the conditions in many of our communities and on our reserves, because while the government on one hand boasts of its commitment to the Indian well-being and development, our shortages of basic necessities continue to prevail. You can look at our housing programs, look at our economic state, examine these things. We are telling you, and you have heard and will hear many examples of these deplorable conditions. This is the result, because of the guidelines that come with the housing programs, limiting the need ever to build a good home.
Why does the Government of Canada not want to accept these responsibilities and properly implement the provisions of treaty? Your government argues about limited resources allocated by Parliament, but laughs off gross wastes and mistakes in the tens of millions of dollars. Your government provides massive sums in foreign aid, yet many of our people live in conditions worse than those of Third World countries. The Fourth World is even worse.
Your government cannot try to hide behind the cloaks of acts and regulations like the Financial Administration Act, and whatever else it cares to use as a block to delivering Indian treaty rights. Your government must become responsible. It is obligated by treaty. It has accepted that responsibility; now it must deliver.
In the area of education, the government must again accept its responsibility of free education to Indians provided for by treaty. We want this right back. The government must reverse all policies that are now denying Indians this right in secondary and post-secondary education. I hope your committee will deal with this matter immediately.
The government must cease playing Indians against one another in the reserve, off-reserve policies. This is cheap policy. We have rights to education wherever we happen to live. The government must provide greater resources to Indian education institutions, wherever they may be or what they may
be developed on. The government has denied this right to our people and, again, that must change.
I would again like to make reference back to fiscal arrangements. The treaty money transfer is another problem, I guess, from one government to another, of adequate levels of funding to do a complete job. Our accountability is to the people. We have systems in place. We do not have to accept Indian Affairs’ regulations. If the Department of Indian Affairs has difficulties, it should maybe do its homework. We have no problem with accountability.
The government must increase the level of funding to Indian governments, to all levels. Governments must increase the level of funding to all sectors of Indian development, especially economic development, education, community services and housing. The government must reduce administrative and financial restrictions so our communities and economies can develop and grow in a more meaningful way.
The government must accept our principles of self-determination and our policies and procedures. The department must elevate its role from that of a paternalistic welfare agent to that of the deliverer of treaty rights. The chiefs and councils must be recognized and accepted as the legitimate and responsible governments of Indian nations.
The government must raise its level of thinking to treaty rights and revenue sharing, economic expansion, and direct transfer payments.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, we have come a long way in a few short years, but we are still behind the rest of the world. You are all familiar with the statistics. Your government must increase its effort to live up to treaty promises. Our economies need money, start-up grants. Our children have a right to free education. Our joint consultation processes, yours and ours, have to be stepped up. Your government has to open its mind and not only hear us, but listen and try to understand.
These are not gifts we ask for, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. These are rights. Remember, we gave up this great land to your forefathers in exchange for a small price.
With that, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for affording me the opportunity to express the views of our district. Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much for giving us that brief, Chief.
Mr. Ahenakew, did you want to address the committee? Do you have a brief to give to the committee?
Senator Louie Ahenakew (Shellbrook District Chiefs): No. Am I ready to proceed, or . . .
The Vice-Chairman: I do not have you on the agenda, but I see you are ready there . . .
Senator Ahenakew: Let me explain. We are making a short oral presentation; later on it will be followed by a written presentation in conjunction with our oral presentation of this evening.
The Vice-Chairman: Very good. You may proceed, then, with your oral presentation.
Senator Ahenakew: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good evening, members of the parliamentary committee.
My remarks, of course, will be kept very, very brief. First, I must explain that I am representing four chiefs of the Shellbrook area, the Shellbrook Indian Agency. They have asked me to represent them and give the oral presentation.
It has been quite a difficult task to cut it down. I asked for seven minutes, and I hope to keep within that timeframe. The difficulty was to cut down the big area into such a small space of time. As we all realize, time is of the essence at the present time, so I will continue with our oral presentation as such.
Opening our oral presentation, I would like to pose a few questions which we should look at. I have four of them on hand at the present time. Should we ask ourselves why we are gathered here together? Question number one. I think it behoves us to think about those things. Question number two: is it because we have a problem? Question number three: and if so, what is that problem? And if we do identify the problem, where does the problem stem from? I think maybe the basis of our oral presentation rests on some of those questions I have put forth.
The fact that we are gathered here together implies there is a problem. Then, why should a problem arise when the rules of conduct are spelled out in Treaty No. 6, which, in part, concerns our specific area? Clearly then, there has been a misinterpretation of Treaty No. 6 by one or both parties that were involved, or both the nations involved… I am sorry about that little slip there.
I have outlined five points for consideration, and I will list them as such. Number one, treaties were signed by two nations. Indians and the queen came together as equal participants and came to an understanding. Number two, the government did not follow the spirit of these treaties, but began to interpret the treaties from its own viewpoint. One illustration I think you are all aware of is we have the Indian Act. Now, I will not enlarge upon that, because of the time element. It would take a tremendous amount of discussion, pros and cons.
Number three, Indian people believe in the treaties, have honoured them and they have lived up to their promises. Number four, the time has come for the Parliament of Canada seriously to consider, study and understand the treaties and to honour their obligation. Number five, I am recommending that an approach be developed whereby Indians can provide this information to you and you can then recommend to your colleagues what action is necessary to live up to the treaties.
One last question that maybe we should consider is, why were the treaties necessary? Was there a need for them?
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. You have given us something to think about at the end of your presentation.
Andy, did you want to make a . . .
Mr. Andy Michael (District Representative, Beardy’s Band, Saskatchewan Federation of Indian Nations): Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to expand on the statements made by Chief Joe Quewezance in regard to the convention of the Saskatoon chiefs. Before this session, we distributed 20 copies to the clerk, and I am sure you each have a copy.
I will briefly go into that, because it is quite a document. We will not fully examine it here tonight, but I will just go on the broad issues of it. This convention was signed in February, 1982 after two years of meetings, workshops, negotiations between the eight bands involved—that is, the Saskatoon District Chiefs.
This convention, or we refer to it sometimes as the memorandum of agreement, is one example of other political and economic arrangements that do exist across the province. I suppose it could be considered as a modern treaty between the Indian bands, between the eight bands that are concerned on this particular convention. The Indian bands in their desire to enhance the development of the Indian people—and we have always felt that this convention was an instrument to express our desire to speak with one voice in the protection of our treaties, in the protection of our Indian rights, our lands, our resources and our people. It is also an instrument of our desire to work together in the promotion of economic development in our reserves, and our desire to promote together the health and social well-being of our Indian people, to promote the education and to revive some of the culture and Indianness we have lost over the years.
I think the most important statement we can make with it is that we will not give into assimilation. We will not give into domination by the larger society. We have agreed on paper, in black and white, that we are determined more than ever to fight back for our people. In addition to the eight bands
signing this agreement, they are also signatories to the provincial convention which involves the other chiefs in the province.
In addition to the convention, I guess one other statement we would like to make is that for years Indian Affairs have tried to establish district councils that would reduce our band councils into municipal-type governments. We do not accept that. We reject that totally.
As far as the government is concerned, band councils are just an administrative arm of Indian Affairs, an agent for the delivery of programs. Again, we do not agree with that at all. If you want to refer to it, this convention is a form of Indian government. The Indian people are the overall authority. They choose or elect their leaders, their chiefs. They will choose who they want to lead them. It involves senators or advisers. It involves and it provides provision for Indian people, Indian women and our youth to be involved in our convention.
It involves the stipulation that if the chiefs so desire, boards and commissions will be struck up to deal with our issues. And very importantly, the chiefs have struck a by-law in regard to financial regulations, because we want to be accountable to our people and also to any funding agency that desires to see what our accountability is all about. As far as the Indian people are concerned, we are prepared to honour it.
As I said, this agreement is approximately one year old and we have just begun implementing it. It is not perfect, but with the consent of the chiefs, we will amend it from time to time as is required.
One example I suppose I can give you of the Indian people working together is that the eight bands last September 1 took over responsibility for the administration of the Duck Lake students’ residence, using this convention. We have 35 people working there with close to a million-dollar budget. That was phase one. Phase two is to take responsibility for the building itself. Phase three will be to’ take over the administration of the classrooms and teachers.
So as I think you can see, Indian people are able to take and keep responsibility and be accountable for it.
Mr. Chairman, I guess the broadest statement I can make here is our determination to take control of our lives and our determination to take control of our future.
Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
Have we heard from everyone, then? Are we prepared for questions?
Ms Yooya: Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Yes.
Ms Yooya: Before you proceed, would you allow me once more to get off my chair as an interpreter and make a couple of comments?
The Vice-Chairman: Certainly.
Ms Yooya: Three minutes at the most. I will be brief.
The Vice-Chairman: Okay.
Ms Yooya: About education, you have heard a lot about education today. I am from the area called Treaty No. 8, which was made June 21, 1899, and I will quote from that treaty:
As to education, the Indians were assured that there was no need of any special stipulation as it was the policy of the government to provide in every part of the country, as far as circumstances would permit, for the education of Indian children.
It does not stipulate there whether it be urban, reserve or off-reserve.
Now a lot of urban Indian people are being forced to face havoc and hardship because of what the department is doing to us today. They will not provide for educational assistance to Indian children off-reserve. I am facing this problem myself as a treaty Indian. I have talked to Indian Affairs several times, and they usually turn around and tell me education is only provided to Indian people on reserve, or Indian children on reserve. It states it is because of the Indian Act. The treaties were made with the Indian peoples of this land before the Indian Act ever existed. The Indian Act was developed by a bureaucracy for Indian people, without consultation and without consulting the Indian people.
That is my education point. Now, in regard to uranium development: first, in reference to the Stony Rapids Band, which my chief Ben Toutsaint comes from, there was an agreement reached between the band and Eldorado Nuclear. There is no hiring of band members happening now, yet this is one of the things agreed upon and stipulated as conditional in the contract signed with the band; that they would hire band members. They are importing their labour; mostly Caucasian labour.
About the uranium development, to further strengthen what Chief Joe Tsannie stated to you about Rabbit Lake, within the last three years in the north there were a lot of public hearings in most of the communities up there. They wished to develop what they called the B zone, which is on a point. If they develop that uranium, that ore body, the major part of it is situated under water, and in order for them to get at that ore body, they would have to get into the water before they got at that uranium, and there was a lot of fear. That fear still exists today, that it would destroy the marine life, the wildlife. Not only that, they would have to fool around with the water, put dams in there somehow, to get rid of the amount of water in order to get at the uranium. The result of these public hearings
was a consensus by the northern peoples that they did not want that B zone to be developed.
Therefore there was, if you can so call it, a moratorium put on the development of that zone. Because of that, Gulf Minerals, who then controlled that company, would have had to shut down by year-end of 1984. In fact, they had started slowing down their operations last year. Now, within the last half year, apparently the company has changed hands. It is now controlled by Eldorado Nuclear, which is a federal company. The provincial government has also changed. The chief stated that the province and Eldorado, or the federal government, were supposed to sit down today to sign an agreement to go ahead with the development of that B zone which the northern people were against.
The Vice-Chairman: Does anybody have any questions? Mr. Chénier.
Mr. Chénier: Mr. Chairman, I would like to pursue that contract with Eldorado. First of all, I would like to know how long has exploration or mining been taking place in that area?
Ms Yooya: Eldorado, which operated the mines out of Uranium City, just recently closed down. They have been in existence for years. I will not tell you, because otherwise I will have to tell you how old I am.
Mr. Chénier: It was indicated before that the contract, whether it was Eldorado or Gulf before them, was signed between them and the band. Who conducted the negotiations between the band? Was it the band itself? Did they bring in people or lawyers to do the negotiating for them?
Ms Yooya: I took part in some of those negotiations, as a band member and quite often as an interpreter. Indian Minerals out of Calgary was one of the key people involved in that. It is Eldorado Nuclear that Stony Rapids Band is dealing with. And, of course, the Department of Indian Affairs was involved. That is why it is such havoc—and Eldorado Nuclear and the provincial government.
Mr. Chénier: Could you elaborate? You indicated there were a numberof conditions in the contract. Originally, I think the company was paying the band $50,000 a year. I guess that was part of the conditions in the contract. You also indicated there was a hiring policy. What other criteria or conditions were established in the contract?
Ms Yooya: I cannot remember everything offhand; the money part I cannot really attest to because I do not have the figures here. In regard to the hiring part, I do remember that part very clearly. One of the stipulations was an agreement in the contract that they would hire and train band members to work with their crews, if they came into the reserve to explore or whatever they do, so that the band members would have
jobs. Apparently what is happening now is they are not doing that; they are not hiring any band members.
Mr. Chénier: But if it is part of the contract, and the company is not holding up its end of it, are there no ways in which the band can get back at the company, stop the exploration or’ stop the mining? Are there no conditions? Was it just a friendly arrangement, without any ways of retaliating?
Ms Yooya: Our present chief would have to pursue those points. I am no longer working with the band. I am not living on the reserve. I am an urban Indian, by the way. That is why I feel very strongly about this education thing.
You would have to get help to pursue those things. I suppose someone should tell them that the company has broken that contract.
Mr. Chénier: About the treaties, as somebody mentioned this afternoon, if you buy a piece of land from someone and you do not pay for it, he will either take you to court or you will lose your piece of land, because it has not been paid for.
To me, this is a contract, a good contract, and if one of the parties is breaking some of the oonditions, they should be brought to answer for their actions. I think it might be worth taking one of the $30,000 that the band is receiving to pursue it, to see what the company will do.
Ms Yooya: Was that just a comment?
Mr. Chénier: That is just a comment.
The Vice-Chairman: Do you want to ask a question?
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would just like to follow up on the whole question of the role that the Department of Indian Affairs played in the negotiations between the band and Eldorado Nuclear. Did you feel that the department was urging you to go ahead with the contract?
Ms Yooya: That is my personal point of view. They are, after all, a federal department and Eldorado is a federal company. I guess they were working hand in hand, more or less, because whatever arrangements were to be made, whether it be just a phone call, or quite often letter-writing, and meetings especially, Indian Affairs usually made the arrangements: okay, you are supposed to meet with Eldorado and Indian Minerals at such and such a place and at such and such a time . . . they always knew what was happening.
Mr. Manly: Did the Department of Indian Affairs ever have any education program with the Indian people about the possible dangers of uranium mining?
Ms Yooya: No. Of course they will contradict me, but I still hold the answer is no.
Mr. Manly: Chief Toutsaint indicated he had heard from other people that there are possible dangers to uranium mining. I think there are many people who are very, very concerned about the dangers of uranium mining, both to the environment and to human beings that are involved with it. It bothers me that the Department of Indian Affairs is not seen to be more helpful in explaining some of these dangers, that it is not at arm’s length from a federal Crown corporation. It seems to me that its responsibility is not to Eldorado Nuclear. but its responsibility should be to the Indian people. But you did not feel that was where its real interest lay?
Ms Yooya: In that case, no.
Mr. Manly: This is a question that I asked this afternoon. The federal government has made money available in the last couple of years for doing impact studies of the social and economic impacts of major developments as they will impact on Indian people. Were any of those funds made available to the Stony Rapids Band?
Ms Yooya: If they were, I am not aware of it. That is, just since I worked with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians up to November 1982. Up to that point I was not aware of those funds.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Ms Yooya: Excuse me. One thing I have to bring to your attention. It was brought to me by Chief Tsannie. One thing concerning uranium waste: it will affect the land for more than 500 to 800 years. Environmental studies which were done in the communities were conducted by the provincial government. The local people themselves were opposed to the approval of the Rabbit Lake-Collins Bay bitumen. There was never a proper answer to the question, what will Rabbit Lake do after they have taken the uranium ore out and what will they do with the waste deposits? This question still lingers on with the provincial government and the mining companies, but approval is going ahead. I only hope they will put a stop to it, unless we have full participation.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Are there any more questions on the uranium issue? I want to go into another area, so we should finish those first. Did you have any questions on the uranium issue?
Ms Jamieson: No. I have a comment, but I will save it.
The Vice-Chairman: I want to ask a question regarding the Freshwater Fish Corporation. I did not quite understand. Is the $60,000 debt owing to the Department of Indian Affairs or to the Freshwater Fish Corporation?
Ms Yooya: Usually what happens is that the Department of Indian Affairs provides $60,000 of funding or assistance to get the program going, but Freshwater Fish, in turn, does not return that money to the Department of Indian Affairs. Acting
Chief Fern is under the impression that Indian Affairs thinks that Freshwater Fish or the fishermen owe the department that amount of money, and until that is cleared up, the department does not want to give them any more assistance.
The Vice-Chairman: The fish plant loses about $60,000 per year to operate. Does it lose that because the money they receive for the fish, when sold, does not meet the cost of running the fish plant and the boats? Is that the reason for the loss?
Ms Yooya: The fish plant makes over and above that amount, but what happens is the department gives out this money to subsidize treaty Indian fishermen. This money is handed over to Freshwater Fish. It subsidizes the transportation of the fish, their operating costs, but Freshwater Fish does not, in turn, answer to the department as to what it did with that money. Indian Affairs feels that the money should be accounted for. What did Freshwater Fish do with that money? That is what they are asking.
The Vice-Chairman: How many fishermen are there, and how many people work in the fish plant? How many people are employed in this process—and I am given to understand will not be employed this year if additional funds are not forthcoming?
Ms Yooya: The boats that go out to harvest the fish, Acting Chief Fern figures, average about 20 boats per summer. The number of people who work at the fish plant would be about 25.
The Vice-Chairman: One person per boat?
Ms Yooya: In a small boat, usually two people; in a middle-sized boat, three people; in a big boat, four people.
The Vice-Chairman: We are looking at over 100 people employed at $600 per job. That is not a bad investment. We make a much poorer investment in a lot of people in the country, in the neighbourhood of $3,000 to $6,000 per job, all the time. I think we might want to investigate the reason why some of the make-work programs in the Department of Manpower are not allocated here, because otherwise there are 100 people who will be unemployed and it is only at a cost of about $600 per job. That would seem to me to be a pretty reasonable investment.
Ms Yooya: That was over the last three seasons, by the way. This will be the fourth fishing season coming up.
The Vice-Chairman: Yes.
Ms Yooya: Norbert also pointed out that his boat brought in, in one load, approximately $1,000 worth of fish. I guess the other fishermen brought in that kind of money too.
The Vice-Chairman: We will try to follow this up and see what we can do on it.
Ms Yooya: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Roberta, do you have anything further?
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There are two areas I think we should do some work in after hearing the evidence here. One is the one that you raised. The other is in this Eldorado Nuclear and the B zone, this development issue. I am very concerned and upset about that. I have real trouble seeing the department as trustee in many of these matters, when they turn out in this fashion, and I think we should have a look at that.
One of the things we did in some of the other areas was to ask a few of our researchers to sit with the witness. Could we not do that and see if we could get some more facts, when they leave the table, perhaps, and then we could follow it up? Or I could encourage the witnesses to forward some more material to us and either this committee could take it up, or the standing committee could take it up. I will look to you, Mr. Chairman, for that direction.
I just wanted to make one other comment. It is very frustrating to see all the money that is available to all kinds of companies. There are 300 federal corporation assistance programs in this country. Did you know that? There are all kinds of forgivable loans, all kinds of grants, all kinds of other acceptable ways in which government gives money to companies, yet when money goes to Indians, the only acceptable form is either handout or welfare.
It is interesting to look at some of the statistics. I have been raising a few today and I am going to raise one more.
When you look at the inequity, when you look at the 1983-1984 total federal estimates and see how much money is going for development in the country at large, if Indians got their fair share of that, even based on per capita, they should get $150 million. What they are in fact getting—say, if they got $150 million, that would be, for each community of 500, $660,000 a year for economic development. But if you look at what they are really getting . . . they are supposed to get $150 million. Indian Affairs may get in their estimates $66 million. A lot of that will be eaten up by the bureaucracy, let us face it. All this spells a situation where we see once again First Nations not getting the proper support for any kind of development. We have heard many Indian witnesses speak of the need to get economic development money into the reserves without all the strings and the bureaucracy, as in the past—the chairman has alluded to this before—and also for that resource base to be established.
It is ironic that while this committee goes around getting evidence and looking to promote lndian self-government and
the resource base, we hear how it is being taken away every place we go. I find it very frustrating.
Anyway, I just had that comment, Mr. Chairman. Maybe we could have some direction from you on how we should get some more information on these two issues.
The Vice-Chairman: Certainly the committee, or anyone individually, is open to all the information you have available. That is the only way members of Parliament can deal with issues: if they have the information. Sometimes in our travels, when we are looking for information to write a report, we find out other interesting information that we can deal with. If you have any further information, you can table it with me as the chairman or with any of the members of Parliament at the table.
Mr. Chénier: Mr. Chairman, I think we should get as much information as possible about the contract that was signed between the band and Gulf, because Gulf was the original owner—is that it: both Gulf and Eldorado?
Ms Yooya: Eldorado is still the company that is exploring around the Stony Rapids Reserve. Gulf is the original owner of the company that is at Rabbit Lake.
Mr. Chénier: I think we should get copies of the two contracts.
Ms Yooya: There is no contract signed with the Lac La Hache Band. I do not believe so. The chief is here; he can correct me.
Mr. Chénier: On the fishing, I do not quite understand what happened there; and I would like to know. Maybe we should direct the clerk to write a letter to the department to find out their side of the story, because it would appear that either the money was advanced and it had to be repaid—because if it was a subsidy, there would be no reason to repay it. They could say, well, next year we are not going to advance any more money; but they would not say, well, you have to repay it before we do anything else. I think that would be one thing that we would have to clarify.
If they were in a phased-in economic development program, why would the department at one point just stop giving money? That is what I would like to find out, because that has happened in many other instances and that is what we should look into, Mr. Chairman.
Before we get off this, in case we forget, do we need a resolution… because the written document has not been submitted, and it will be later, and I think we should make sure that it is part of the documentation that we have on hand. Do we need a motion for that?
The Vice-Chairman: A motion would be in order. If I understand you correctly, you would like it tabled and attached to this day’s Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence.
Mr. Chenier: That it be part of the testimony.
The Vice-Chairman: Will we be getting this written submission today, or will it be delivered to us later?
Ms Yooya: I was only informed of this meeting on Friday. I got here on short notice, so I do not have any documentation with me.
The Vice-Chairman: If anything comes forward, I think we will deal with it as we receive it.
Mr. Chénier: Okay, no problem.
The Vice-Chairman: When any written submission comes to us, the clerk will give the chairman notice and we will see to it that it is dealt with.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do have two short questions, but before I ask them, Senator Chicken, I believe, had signified prior to questioning that he wanted to talk.
The Vice-Chairman: I would ask Senator Chicken to address the committee aftcr questions.
Mr. Chartier: Okay, thank you.
Mention was made by Chief Tsannie today that in exploration in northern Saskatchwewan traplines are often destroyed and trappers in essence forced out of their traplines. When that happens, is any compensation given to the trappers?
Ms Yooya: The band mainly affected by that is the Lac La Hache Band, because the uranium mine that is developed is not even 14 miles from the reserve. There has been destruction of traplines, but to date no trappers have been compensated. We have tried to deal with the mining company, and the stand they take is that it is not on reserve, it is not your land, you did not talk about it before, you did not make any deal with us beforehand on that, so we cannot compensate you.
Mr. Chartier: Would I be correct in stating that the chiefs would view their trapping lines as part of their lands or resources as agreed to by treaty? Would that be correct?
Ms Yooya: At a lot of these public hearings, as well as meetings, the chiefs as well as the band memberships have stated that this was always their land; they always trapped in that area and lived in that area, even before the existence of treaties and boundaries and companies. These companies came in and destroyed their way of life.
Mr. Chartier: It is not on exploring directly, but in the north there is always a problem of forest fires. Some of them are natural and some of them of course are created by—in some cases, in northwestern Saskatchewan, I think a jet plane crashed and a lot of traplines were burned. There had been an attempt by some people to get compensation, and I am sure this happens. I am talking about the Buffalo Narrows area, but I am sure that happens further north as well. Has any
compensation ever been paid to the trappers who have lost their traplines up in the area that the chiefs come from?
Ms Yooya: No. A forest fire has destroyed a lot of what you would call the gathering grounds of the caribou. When fire destroys the food they live on, such as tundra, they will veer in a different direction. They will not come back to that land. It is just within this past year that the caribou have started coming back towards our area. Not only that, within the last two years there was a major forest fire that took in part of northern Saskatchewan and into the territories and destroyed quite a few traplines as well as their equipment and everything they had on their traplines, their cabins and so on up there. To this day they have not been compensated for that.
Mr. Chartier: Do you think that forest fire area is something the governments, both federal and provincial, should pay more attention to and not let get out of hand? Do you think there is a need for that?
Ms Yooya: There definitely is a need for that. The Indian people, on their level, have requested some type of compensation, but there again the governments have given us negative answers.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. If there are no further questions, I will allow Senator Chicken—I believe he would like to address the committee. If that is so, we will hear Senator Chicken.
Senator Louis Chicken (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations) (Interpretation): I wish to speak to you again. You are sitting here representing the big boss. I am very happy this has happened. I have been wanting to see this happen for a long time. Today I am finally seeing it happen.
You people sitting here facing us, I am thinking about the way you are dealing with us. I am not trying to say bad things about you, I just want to tell you what I think. You represent this government and the leader of this government in this land that we live in. Because you are the government, it is as if we were your children.
The Creator who put us on this earth, regardless of how we live, treats us all the same. If the Creator put on this earth people who will be leaders, those leaders are supposed to look after the rest of the people on this earth. I feel as if I can see it, because it says so in the Big Book.
When we have children, we have those children in our homes, they ask us for something. If we feel that it is going to help them, be useful to them, we try our best to give them what they request. By the same token, the government should treat us the same way.
There have been a lot of people who approach you here, talk to you, tell you things, make requests. It is because they are asking for your help. That is why they came and talked to you.
You have been approached with a lot of different things. To you they may seem like different requests. It might look to you like different people coming from different ways down the road who approach you at this table. The way they approach you—they ask you for a lot of different things, but because they want your help, if you are able to help them . . . that is why they approach you here.
We treaty people do not have that many basic needs. You have already heard me say that. I have heard talk today that people want to stop trapping. They have gone to other countries across from our land. Those people who live in those other countries do not live by trapping. Trapping is our way of Iife.
Those people who are talking about stopping this way of life called trapping—if they were to come and see how we live, compare it with their way of life, they would see something very different. It is a hard way of life that we have. We go through many hardships in this life.
Even in this room we are sitting in, if you look around, there are not very many items in here that are necessary to exist; and yet if you look around, it looks nice in here. When you go to my land, you go to take a look at our lifestyle, you go to see the life the trapper lives, you will see a totally different picture.
When I sit and talk about these things, I do not add anything to what I am telling you. I do not tell lies; I do not exaggerate. I tell you the truth about what I have seen.
I have lived that way of life. People the same age as myself have lived in that manner, where we suffered, where we worked, to make an existence for our families.
It has only been a little more than 10 years that social assistance has existed in the north. Up to that time, the way we lived and suffered—I am only telling you those stories.
I am not saying that we are totally destitute. The children are being fed: they are living, through this social assistance. I am only telling you these things and these stories about the way we have lived because this is the first time that you ever sat down and listened to us in this manner.
We in the far north, when it comes to different things like attending meetings, do not have proper funding. We are always needing money to go somewhere to attend a meeting. If you were able somehow to help us obtain funding to attend different meetings that we are requested to go to. . .
Another source of funding that we would like you to investigate is funding for the FSI senators. They do not have any source of funding from which they can operate, and we definitely need help in that area.
If you people sitting here were to see me alone, if we tried to talk together, we would not be able to communicate, because we would not understand each other. It is only through an interpreter that we are able to talk together. That is another reason why we are requesting help with funding.
That is all for now. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: We recognize that difficulty and are pleased that the interpreter was able to interpret for us. Thank you very much.
The committee has recognized a couple of very important issues, and we appreciate the briefs.
Thank you very much for your time and for the briefs. We will call presentation 7 to a close.
I would like to call the next witnesses to the table immediately, if that is possible, and we will continue right on: Chief Roland Crowe, Phil Morin, Andy Michael and Syd Fiddler.
I note that Vern Bellegarde will be at the table, and David Acoose as well.
Chief Crowe, if you would like to begin, that would be in order.
Chief Roland Crowe (Urban Indians and Youth, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to make some oral remarks and oral presentation.
I want to welcome you on behalf of the people we are dealing with and discussing here. I am going to start off with item 1.
Jurisdiction is and always will be the responsibility of the chiefs and councils, regardless of residence of Indian people. Secondly, they will not lose their status as treaty and registered Indians, nor will they become a provincial jurisdiction. Thirdly, with the ever-existing presence of the loss of treaty rights in the areas of education, health, social services, etc., with this current situation, we have some very immediate concerns about those. Fourthly, the funds for programs and the delivery of services have to be made available through the district chiefs. Funding arrangements that have been going on are not acceptable. The native or Indian and Metis boards that are being funded are most certainly not delivered and administered or oriented for the benefit of Indian people in the urban areas.
Those, Mr. Chairman, are four issues in general. With that, if there are any questions, to get into specifics or certain situations, we are prepared to answer those questions.
The Vice-Chairman: So that would be your oral presentation and you would rather go into questions and answers from here on. Thank you.
Are any members prepared for questioning? Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: The presentation distributed talks about unemployment and the fact that this age structure of 15 to 29 represents the highest unemployment grouping of the already astronomically high levels of Indian unemployment. I wonder if you could give some indication of how this affects young Indian people—just to put it on the record and make it clear; spell it out.
Mr. Syd Fiddler (Youth, Urban Indians and Youth, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Maybe I will address that issue during my presentation.
Ms Jamieson: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, is there a written one distributed on the urban Indian?
Mr. Glen Gordon (Regina Indian Development Association): No, we have not distributed any information on the urban Indians yet. We have drafted a copy, but it still has to go before the district chiefs. We are going to table this document at a later time.
Ms Jamieson: What we have is the youth?
Mr. Gordon: Yes, the youth will make their presentation.
Mr. Chénier: Mr. Chairman, to be fair, I was still in the frame of mind of the last presentation. I wonder if the chief would be kind enough to repeat—just summarize the four points, so we can get into that. I think probably the committee is a little tired. I know I am, and I am having a little hard a time catching on right now.
Chief Crowe: The current situation is that when people move off the reserve and get into the urban areas, there is the ever-presence of the loss of things that are guaranteed to us under treaties and that should always prevail. To name specific items, those are the situations of medical services and education. You are quite aware of the problems that we have had in education and the fact that if they are a non-resident of a respective reserve for a period of time, the Department of Indian Affairs does not cover that responsibility. The other thing we have some difficulty with is that after they have been off for a certain amount of time, they fall under provincial jurisdiction; and that is not our understanding of the rights we have under treaty.
About funding for urban Indians, I believe that is an important situation. I think we have to deal with it and recognize it and come up with a suitable system that is much more advantageous to us as Indian people than the situation we have now. When I talk about urban funding, I am talking about a number of boards that are either non-Indian or Indian and Metis, or a different combination. I talk about the migrating program and I talk about housing programs.
As an example, there are programs for urban housing that are for Indian and Metis boards or native boards. What we are saying, and what must be the situation, is that Indian boards, through the district chiefs, must be recognized so they will support and administer programs that are definitely oriented for the Indian problem and the Indian situation. I do not say this in a derogatory sense, where I criticize other boards, but if we are Indian people and in the situation of controlling our own destiny, we as Indian people must sit on those boards and control those boards, and at the same time be in control of the administration and delivery programs.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Chénier.
Mr. Chénier: I can understand it is a real problem. But now, as was stated a number of times today, in the Constitution, when we talk about existing rights of Indians, Inuit and Metis, there is no differentiation any more about who—you know, they will have to find a new definition of Indians. It does not appear to be the one in the Indian Act. So do you think once the new definition or the word “Indian” as it is now entrenched in the Constitution, with the rights specified, will cover the urban Indians and all those who are not on reserve, where the department now says we only fund people on reserves?
Chief Crowe: The definition of “Indian”—I do not want to get into a technical or a legal debate about it, but if we recognize Indians as Indians—and what I am saying about that is that because you do not reside on a reserve does not mean that you are not an Indian, because if we live in Canada and we periodically visit some place, or whatever, people do not lose their status as Canadians.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Chenier.
We could proceed to the next brief and then question both, if is in order and if there are no further questions.
Mr. Fiddler, do you have a presentation to make to the committee?
Mr. Fiddler: First of all, before I start, I would like to express my appreciation to the subcommittee, to our Indian leaders, for giving us the opportunity to talk, to express some of the perspectives that Indian youth are coming from today, I will be talking mainly about university Indian students, what they see for themselves in the future in Canada in terms of Indian government. But before I go into those areas, perhaps just to acquaint the subcommittee with some background information I would like to present on Indian youth . . .
First of all, Indian youth between 15 and 25 years of age represent approximately 35% to 40% . . . They are the largest age grouping of the Saskatchewan Indian population, In this age grouping, they comprise the majority of off-reserve Indian population. Statistically, 35.1% of the total Indian population is off-reserve. This age structure represents the highest
unemployment grouping of the already astronomically high levels of Indian unemployment. Unlike the general Indian population, the problems of underdevelopment are prevalent, and the socio-economic disparities and the social problems exemplified when people—the education people we are talking about mentioned that over 80% of Indian students drop out before completion of grade 12. Particular characteristics of this age group—statistics that you take a look at—indicate the highest rate of incarceration in federal and provincial prisons, juvenile delinquency, violent deaths, suicides, and accidents related to alcohol and drug abuse.
Within the last few years, with increased political, technical, legal, educational, organizational and financial growth and development among Indian people, this physical evidence has instilled a consciousness that has filtered down to the Indian community level, both on and off reserve.
Hand in hand with this is a consciousness of and a growing awareness of our unique Indian culture through the Indian world-view, spiritualism, and history, a perspective which has opened our eyes to the contradictions between the professed ideals, the socialization of Canadian society as a whole, and the plight of the Indian people. The implications of it are both negative and positive. The negative effects have resulted in increased hostility, resentments, frustrations, which result in perpetuating the apathy, the psychological self-destruction and striking out at institutional systems of Indian youth, without consciously pinpointing the cause-and-effect relationship. On the other hand, in a few cases—but growing by leaps and bounds—there is a message that education is a right and a privilege for the betterment of Indian people themselves and ultimately for the future development of the Indian people.
There is evidence of this in the enrolment of Indian youth in high school, vocational, skill training, and post-secondary education as finances and opportunities become available. To a large extent, though, the speed and manner in which these Indian aspirations and determination to become realities are totally dependent on federal-provincial governments, especially the Department of Indian Affairs. Within the last five years Indian students, I think, and the Indian people in general, have heard the Department of Indian Affairs reiterate rhetoric supporting implementation of Indian control of education, Indian control of economic development, lndian control of this and that. But in reality we see that it has failed to support actively, and has sometimes undermined, their responsibility to provide education, to provide the type of support systems, finances, necessary to make that a reality.
In the area of education, the position of the Department of Indian Affairs, which now slowly seems to be shifting towards that of Employment and Immigration, is that education is just a provincial responsibility, and it is considered a privilege. Education is restrictively interpreted in terms of education for
reserve only, and the availability of these educational services is such that if Indian students are not responsible, then they, the Department of Indian Affairs and Canada Employment and Immigration, will make them responsible. Armed with this position and these attitudes, and mainly a shrinking budget, they have unilaterally introduced new policies, guidelines, standards for accountability of public funds. Post-secondary policies, guidelines, restrict, erode, and undermine treaty and aboriginal rights.
Also, along with that, the basic trust and moral responsibility that Canada has towards making sure that disadvantaged people, minorities, can receive the same type of benefits as expected of any Canadian citizen . . . It suggests that only the wealthy can afford education, and it continues to perpetuate the present status quo by deliberately imposing policies, legislation, to repress Indian people.
The chronological policies and effects in the area of post-secondary education for Indian students within the last five years are as follows. In January 1979 the E-12 guidelines denied the right of Indian students and Inuit students to education past the age of 16. These policies were revised, but more restrictive policies and guidelines for post-secondary education, expressing terms, standards, and control mechanisms, were imposed.
In September 1981, Indian students at the University of Regina received no educational assistance well into the second week of classes. Problems of budget control, processing of finances, delivery system, authorized EVT forms, were cited as the reasons for delay. It was three weeks before that educational assistance problem was rectified.
In January of 1982, 130 Indian students at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College were denied Indian Affairs sponsorship. Funding was denied because of a new guideline accepting only students with a complete grade 12. A decision to fund these Indian students was reversed two weeks after. On January 15, after discussing it with the Federated College and the FSI, the department decided to respect the decision of the university and not apply its own additional standards. Approximately 35 Indian students dropped out of class out of the 130 Indian students affected, by the time the decision was made.
In January of 1983 a new Department of Indian Affairs university educational assistance policy specified that only those Indian students who entered university with a complete grade 12 and with department approval will be sponsored. The department required complete documentation of academic results, attendance, career aspirations, personal aspirations of all the Indian students to justify continuation or to recommend termination. This policy affected all Indian students, but directly affected 330 Indian students.
After two sit-ins at the department regional offices, this issue was resolved three weeks later, when the department lowered its standards. Ultimately 104 of these Indian students went without Department of Indian Affairs sponsorship and 40 other students were funded by Canada Employment and Immigration.
Because of the policy change and the time period between classes and the first educational allowance cheque, 122 students dropped out of class, as confirmed in the statistics brought out by the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College as of February 14, 1983.
Also, within the last few days we have seen in other educational areas that the department has refused to sponsor high school and secondary students who are off reserve.
A great deal of the everyday lives of Indian people is affected by these policies and legislation about Indians; and they are generally Canada-wide in scope. There appears to be a lack of commitment and support for Indian issuu in both the federal and the provincial governments. It is characterized by a lack of a comprehensive approach to address Indian issues, concerns, and initiatives under treaty and aboriginal rights.
We see other factors that contribute to this inaction: insufficient information and understanding about the so-called “Indian problem”, as reflected by federal and provincial policy, insufficient funds, negative attitudes, bureaucratic procedures, guidelines. proper lines of authority, and the parameters within which authority and power are delegated. All these factors influence the speed and rate and limits of power in turning over responsibilities towards Indian government.
Other areas that we view as problem areas under federal and provincial administration regarding federal-provincial and Indian relationships are as follows. Decentralization of absolute authority, decision-making and control at the top of federal and provincial hierarchies have regulated Indians to the status of dependent variables on policy problems, implying that integration and assimilation into Canadian society are by definition good. This is a predominant liberal ideology which views Indians as one more ethnic minority to be assimilated. It has also created a protective screen and distance between those making and implementing the decisions and those affected. It is the secrecy of the Department of Indian Affairs that has kept the Indians far removed from these federal and provincial bureaucracies.
Other problem areas we see are that there is insufficient information about how to start tackling the so-called Indian problem. There is no understanding or empathy for the kind of people the policies are affecting. A lot of the bureaucrats who are making these—decision-makers at the Ottawa level—
have no experience with Indian people, nor do they have any inkling of the type of attitudes towards self-sufficiency Indian people are exhibiting now.
All these factors, as I mentioned before, influence the continuation of the Department of Indian Affairs’ dragging its heels in turning over responsibilities to Indian government, and consequently the slow erosion of Indian treaty rights. The economic crisis has curtailed federal government spending on social, educational, and health areas, which have the greatest impact on the Indian people and others occupying this bottom stratum of Canadian society. Although Indian control is instituted for Indian people, these Indian-controlled institutions are subject to the controls and program definition of federal and provincial governments and their agencies. The social, fiscal controls exerted have a great impact, because by withdrawing and terminating of funds that are used at the band level, at Indian institutions, these funds are being used to reward and punish, to sow disunity by playing off Indians against each other, and to keep an effective control mechanism by keeping Indian people in a constant state of insecurity. They continue to perpetuate the one-sided power structure and relationship . . .
Accountability of financial management to central control agencies like Treasury Board and the committee on Indian self-government, and possibly to this subcommittee also, rather than to the Indian people, restricts the effectiveness of the Department of Indian Affairs and Indian~run organizations. The present constitutional structure and power divisions between governments and legislative authority of the federal government allow no concessions, as they stand, for Indian self-determination. New policies. options, alternatives, such as the recent Munro document outlining an optional form of Indian band government, represent more a change of the style of management than a genuine change in the position of Indian people. These alternatives by and large offer only a transitional period within which Indian people will be assimilated into mainstream Canadian society, with little or no constitutional guarantees of Indian positions on treaty or aboriginal rights.
These are but a few examples which we perceive as building up resentments, hostilities, feelings of powerlessness to control, direct, and help shape policies, programs, which affect us. It has perpetuated the Indian dependency syndrome which has become institutionalized in the Canadian system. It becomes increasingly difficult to concentrate on educational, social, economic, cultural, self-sufficiency in the long run when we see immediate growth and development, such as in the post-secondary education policies, are impeded by federal policies; see that opportunity for Indian development, for a lot of the Indian students who are going to these post-secondary education—the opportunities for them to get into lndian development and growth seem to be available only under
federal and provincial governments and services, for it seems to be the only option allotted the Indian students to be co-opted within the narrow parameters of program delivery, policies, timeframc and basic controls which we see as discouraging lndian autonomy and lndian self-government. It renders lndian civil servants who work in these federal and provincial government bureaucracies incognito within those bureaucracies.
Government inaction on Indian issues historically and to date has only demonstrated several basic deficiencies about the present Canadian system. Under the present Canadian political system, lndian problems and issues, because of the lack of equitable resources and populations, are relegated as not large enough issues to warrant positive policy decisions and lcgislation favouring treaty and aboriginal rights. The present Canadian structure concentrates the economic power politics, it seems to us, in certain racial, ethnic groups, under which the Indian falls into the bottom of this Canadian social stratum. Thus the status quo is maintained by unequal access to resources.
Youth no longer accept the Indian cultural and racial stereotypes in which Indians are victimized as the source of their problem; thus the the continuation of Indian assimilation policies, reforms, alternatives, without recognizing the sovereignty of Indian nations under treaty and aboriginal rights. We will no longer accept Indian control as providing Indians with inferior education, economic development, etc., but rather we would like them to be viewed to develop traditional and alternative Indian knowledge, skills, and values, by which we can contribute to the betterment of our lndian people. I think this has been reiterated time and time again, not only by us but by the people who have talked to you within the last few days and I am sure since the time this committee went into the first province to hear of Indian concerns.
Again, we stress the fact that accountability, responsibility, and initiatives totally by Indian people for Indian people will only be acceptable as equal sovereign Indian nations within the Canadian system from this type of legislation, entrenched and protected by the trust relationship according to the spirit and intent of treaties inherent in aboriginal people. We certainly will support the stand of our Indian leadership in trying to recognize and cntrench the Indian government as sovereign nations. The legislation should recognize lndian government under the Canadian Constitution, with its implication of jurisdiction, powers, resource sharing, etc., in place of the piecemeal approach under federal legislation and policy. This includes a more equitable resource-sharing mechanism. Indian control means accountability to Indian communities, not accountability to central control agencies. This means complete autonomy by Indian people under Indian sovereign governments. Treaty and aboriginal rights, entrenched in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, 1982, should include the right to education, among other rights.
This is the type of future in which we as Indian youth, under this framework, see ourselves as fitting into Canadian society, rather than the present wardship status that Indian people have been regulated to.
The Vice-Chairman: Chief Crowe.
Chief Crowe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to make some closing remarks about the problems of urban Indians. Excuse us for confusing two issues, but believe me, they are interrelated.
I think for too long we have lived in a situation where Indian people, particularly in the urban areas, have been caught in the numbers game. You get organizations who are serving, or to some degree are trying to serve, two different types of programs and with two different ideas and ideologies and philosophies. With that, what I am saying is that moneys that are made available for Indians should be specifically for Indian groups, designed and controlled for them, and at the same time under the direction of respective district chiefs.
I want to use the Secretary of State as an example. They have funded boards that are of Indian and Metis descent. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in the leadership of Saskatchewan that that has to change. Programs must be designed for Indian people and specifically Indian people.
Secondly, with the funding arrangements for federal-provincial, there are cities, municipalities, in a number of different situations, where the head count is taken and those moneys are made available either to the province or to the municipality or whatever. When you take into consideration, as an example, the City of Regina or Saskatoon, or any other situation, those moneys are made available and facilities are built. You take as an example the Agridome in Regina. We know for a fact that there has been money from both levels of government in a situation like that, and it is plain to see that we do not have any access for the utilization of those facilities, therefore we were eliminated, and to a great degree the activities are not there and the promotion of Indian people for such cases is not being used. If you want to go into specifics, it would be a very complicated situation for someone to get elected to those boards of governors and at the same time make available certain time spots for these people to utilize those facilities.
At the same time, with the funding arrangements that are for reserves, a lot of those programs are designed and a head count is used and they are funded only for the resident Indians. Therefore half the money in most cases is being short-changed and going to a different board of directors or a different local government. I think that is a very, very sad case and that situation has to change. If we want to promote the Indian people and design facilities and programs for them, that money must be under the control of Indian chiefs.
I think, Mr. Chairman, those are just some of the very basic examples of the problems that we have had. In certain instances there are housing programs. Those programs are serving to some degree both situations. But you will agree with me, in all probability, that if people are not there to administer the program, it is not going to serve the basic necessities of that program.
I think the political people sitting here with us today on your board would quite agree with me in this example. If the government was operating programs, it would be quite unacceptable for that government to operate under another government’s philosophies or aims and objectives. That is exactly the case I am presenting to you, Mr. Chairman, in your committee. So is quite recognizable, if you are not administering a program, or not having the control of the program, or operating under someone else’s philosophies or beliefs, then you are indeed not serving the exact intent and purposes of such a program.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. I am given to understand that if a person on the band list leaves the reserve for a certain number of months, the government services no longer come to the chiefand council at the reserve. Is that right?
Chief Crowe: That is right in most programs; I do not say in all programs.
The Vice-Chairman: So how often does the department do the head count, as you say?
Chief Crowe: I think it would be quite reasonable to say maybe once a year. May I add, Mr. Chairman, in response to your comments and to your questions, that those figures are always at least a year behind time. So with the increase in population and the increase of responsibility, there is always a backlog of a year, and the figures are not as what they are for the current date—for which you are getting funds to administer within the current situation.
The Vice-Chairman: So the chief has responsibility for all the members whom he considers as members of his band, but he is only getting funding for a limited number?
Chief Crowe: Right.
Mr. Gordon: The Department of Indian Affairs looks after the Indian people for one year after they leave the reserve and then they have no alternative but to seek other assistance. Usually that is through the provincial type of programs, and that is something we do not want to be slotted into without the acknowldegement of the chiefs in Saskatchewan.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to direct some questions to Chief Crowe. I think the whole situation of urban Indians is one this committee is going to have to look at very carefully. I do not think there is any doubt
but what these people are often caught in the middle in jurisdictional disputes.
We have heard considerable testimony in these hearings that urban Indian people should be the responsibility of their own band and have direct relationship with the chief of the band. We heard this morning from the Starblanket Band that, for example, under their band law off-reserve Indian people are able to vote for band councils. Would that be in general accord, do you think, with the thinking of most of the Indian people in Saskatchewan, that off-reserve Indians should be allowed to vote in band council elections?
Chief Crowe: Mr. Chairman, in response to Mr. Manly, I am not going to be as specific as to say whether they should be or they should not be, but I want to be very specific and say that is the jurisdiction, the responsibility and the decision that is placed squarely on the chief and council of each respective reserve. If we are going to be controlled by some other system that is totally not acceptable to the chief and council, we must within our Indian governments have that jurisdiction to decide within the chief and council and the membership of the band.
Mr. Manly: I see it from a slightly different perspective, and I guess that is understandable. But for example, if a Canadian is outside the country when a general election is called, he or she is not able to vote in that election. If an Australian is outside the country—if they are in Canada, for example, when an election is called—they can vote in an Australian election. It would seem to me that if a council wants to maintain jurisdiction over people, it is somehow important they should have some way of helping to choose the chief and council. I guess that is something that still has to be worked through, but I would appreciate any follow-up comments you or the members of the FSIN had to make on that.
Chief Crowe: Mr. Chairman, in response to Mr. Manly’s comments, the Indian Act is a very difficult item to sort out exactly what the situation is, but in my limited understanding of the Indian Act, it is the place of residence and what you actually consider home. We have all lived on the reserve for a number of years, we consider it our home, and so you really cannot answer that question unless you were inside the mind and understanding how the person thought. If he considers a reserve his home, then it will always be his home and he will always have that right.
Mr. Manly: Just one final question. I noted your fairly strong feeling that there should not be joint Indian-Metis boards. When I was listening to Mr. Fiddler talking about some of the problems that Indian youths face in terms of high unemployment, and some of the problems that urban Indian people face in terms of housing, it would seem to me that these problems are very similar to the problems that Metis youth and urban Metis people face. I have difficulty in seeing why it would not be helpful to have joint boards as a way of addressing a problem that is of real concern not just to Indian people, not just to Metis people, but to society as a whole. We have to deal with unemployment. We have to deal with housing, and it seems to me that the more we can work together, the better we will be at doing that.
Chief Crowe: First of all, Mr. Chairman, again in response to Mr. Manly’s comments, it is essential that we do not enter into programs or fiscal arrangements which would in any way, shape or form jeopardize treaty rights, which in comparison with other people do not have that opportunity and that right, which under an act of Parliament we have. I think that must always be considered.
Secondly, much as we share the same problems, we must administer and control our own programs as Indian people. Furthermore—and I am not going to get into a political situation here, but in the event that your party was in government. would you then operate under the philosophies of the past government or a different political organization, which specifically relates to the situation I am trying to get across?
It is indeed our right and our responsibility to protect the treaties, the same as people who know and understand the situation we are in. As an example, in the non-Indian world, in the non-lndian society, people work, they buy farms and they purchase houses, and that is a hereditary right for their families to receive in the future. In our situation it is one of the things that we want to reserve and protect for the further generations. If we indeed do not make certain that we protect those rights, then I think we are creating a situation that is very vulnerable, and a God-given right to our younger generations may be jeopardized.
Mr. Manly: Just briefly in response to his question, I do not think I could predict what we would do in that specific situation, except that I think it is important that there be a lot of conversation and a lot of dialogue about it. As one member of my party, I have fairly strong feelings that the more people can co-operate in urban situations, the better it is going to be for all involved, but I think we also have to take into account your position regarding treaty rights. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Manly.
Do you want to comment on that, Chief Crowe?
Chief Crowe: Yes, Mr. Chairman, once more. It is always good to have a bit of humour in the discussions, because I think it certainly lightens everyone.
But in response to you, Mr. Manly, I want to say that I am certain that in the event of a governmental change in your government, you would indeed not administer programs, deliver programs or control programs with someone else’s philosophy, and that is precisely the issue I am pointing out to you and your fellow committee members.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, chiefs and representatives of urban Indian peoples. I think Chief Crow is talking about an area that is politically sensitive, but it is also very true that governments have tended to be arbitrary and have made decisions without the involvement of Indian peoples or aboriginal peoples. In the example he uses, I suppose the Secretary of State has intruded into the lives of all aboriginal
peoples. Speaking on behalf of the Metis in Saskatchewan, we have no problem at all; in fact we endorse that Indian people should control their own fiscal arrangements and whatever they see they want to do with those fiscal arrangements and programs that they want—the same as the Metis will be striving for in the constitutional talks. We do not see any conflict.
I suppose the conflict comes up within the Indian community itself. There are treaty Indians who are currently known as non-status Indians, and I think that is where the problem will come in. It will not be a problem between Indian people and Métis, it is going to be a problem within the Indian community. Also, currently, because of the political situation, the Native Council of Canada and the Association of Metis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan may be, I suppose, treading on hot political water with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, but I think that with the statements made today and the willingness to act as statesmen and responsible political leaders the issue of the Indian people can be resolved. It is possible that the governments may have to remain arbitrary for a briefer period, but that is yet to be seen. Hopefully, the government will not have to be. Hopefully, the Indian people can resolve the issue amongst themselves.
But again, I believe Mr. Crowe is very right and the governments, such as the Secretary of State, have to re-evaluate their programming and conditions. I can specifically state that with respect to the Metis, the Secretary of State has made funding to a group like the Native Council of Canada not on the basis of being Metis but on the basis that the Native Council of Canada must represent all native people who are not covered by the Indian Act, and that creates problems. In fact, the members of Parliament on this committee will know of problems that exist and will exist, and something will have to be done before the March conference. So governments are forcing aboriginal peoples sometimes to do what they do not want to do but have to for survival.
With that, I just want to throw out a broad question as to how the chiefs would see the possible resolution of the status and non-status question under the Indian Act.
Chief Crowe: In response to your last question, I am not prepared to get into a legal or technical situation, so I would not respond to it.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chief Crowe: Mr. Chairman, as my last comments, if there are no further questions, there are customs, traditions and cultural feelings we have, and we must maintain those as Indian people.
Secondly, Indians must be represented by chiefs and at the same time be in the control of funds and programs that are made available for Indian people.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Chief Crowe.
The committee wishes to thank the witnesses for the briefs prepared.
Ms Jamieson: Mr. Chairman, I have a question, but not on urban Indians; it is on the youth brief.
The Vice-Chairman: I am sorry, Roberta, I did not notice. Go ahead.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have no questions on the urban Indian brief. I think it is very straightforward. But in the Indian youth brief, Mr. Fiddler, you called it to our attention and said that in January 1983 a new Indian Affairs university educational assistance policy came out and specified certain things. I wonder if this is the same policy which was raised in this committee and which required Indian university students to meet several criteria regarding attendance, marks, et cetera. Is that the same thing?
Mr. Fiddler: That is the same one, yes.
Ms Jamieson: I would like to tell you that this committee asked the Department of Indian Affairs for an answer with respect to this policy, as to whether or not it is just a regional policy or a directive from Ottawa. I would like to let you know what they replied. We were told that it is because of the E-12 guidelines, which are nationally applied, a federal directive, that they have taken this position that certain standards, certain criteria, have to be applied, and they cited these two sections of E- 12.
First of all, one section says:
Fair and reasonable performance standards for students will be established through the cooperation of the institutes of higher learning and students in the program.
The second thing they say is:
It is implicit that an interview between a student and a departmental or band counsellor will be required annually.
I do not know about you, but I have read the E-12 guidelines and I do not see anything where they is implicit.
The other thing I am not sure about is what these standards are. Are there in fact standards that have been established here and with the involvement of the student?
Mr. Fiddler: As far as admissions are concerned, the standards are set by the university, and all the students who apply through the university entrance programs, through the open-door admission policy of the University of Regina, are at standards that are acceptable and are part of the University of Regina.
The standards the Department of Indian Affairs sets are different standards altogether, and they are in addition. They are standards brought simply because there is a lack of financial resources to be able to put through 100% of the students who apply to the university for post-secondary education.
Ms Jamieson: So these standards come from the department alone, without student involvement.
Mr. Fiddler: As I have mentioned before, any policies regarding Indian people have just been unilateral and without any consultation whatsoever.
In terms of standards, in terms of performance, these types of thing, we do not mind those type of things, but when there is a shortage of money and they have to get rid of x% of Indian students that is when it becomes dangerous, and when you do not have an appeal board to be able to go to if you feel you have been unjustly treated, it threatens us.
Also, decision-making in terms of standards and policies has to be made by Indian people. As students we would like to get directly involved within the Indian-run organizations to be able also to help set new standards of admission. We know there is a certain number of people who take advantage of the right to education, but 100% of us do not want to suffer because of a handful of people who may abuse the system, and I think it is because of that fact we decided to take some action in Regina in January.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. It is unfortunate that you have to take such action to get these kinds of arbitrarily imposed standards reconsidered.
This is another answer that we have received from the minister on which I have two or three questions which I will try to bring to the committee’s attention. We will seek further clarification.
Thank you, Mr. Fiddler.
Mr. Gordon: Could you tell me the recommendations by the Department of Indian Affairs on the cut-off of educational services for elementary and secondary students?
Ms Jamieson: The recommendations?
Mr. Gordon: Yes, what did they recommend? Did they state anything at all on that?
Ms Jamieson: They did not recommend. We merely asked them why they were not extending it.
The Vice-Chairman: The two answers we had received from the minister are not private; we are capable of giving you both those answers and you will be able to look at them and deal with them in any way you wish. That is probably a better way than just reading portions of them into the record. So if you would like them, they can be made available to you.
Ms Jamieson: Will the clerk then make them available to the witnesses?
The Vice-Chairman: The clerk or one of us. I do not have a copy with me, but I have a copy in my office.
Mr. Fiddler: Just as a last comment, I think that when a lot of us at the university see our fellow students are being directly affected by policies of education simply because there is a lack
of financial resources to be able to put a lot of them through, in the light of the socio-economic condtions on the reserve and the stress that has been given to education, when we see the Department of Indian Affairs, during the time we did have our sit-in, plan to move into a new building which nobody else can afford, right in the City of Regina, and not go through Treasury Board, we become very upset, because that money could be used to put through a great number of the students who were dropped out of the university. It is these types of things that continuously frustrate and irk us.
The Vice-Chairman: That is a good point.
Have you a final comment, Chief Crowe?
Chief Crowe: Yes, Mr. Chairman. About the urban situation and on behalf of the urbans, we will be submitting written documents.
With that, Mr. Chairman and the committee members, we want to thank you very much for your time.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. We will note your document when it is received, and we will have it appended to the record.
Thank you very much for your presentation. We appreciate it. It has been very helpful.
We will now call the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association to the table. I believe the witnesses are Senator Gamble, Angeline Roberts, Dorothy Bird and Chief Mary Ann Walker.
We will begin with the presentation from the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association. Welcome to the table. We look forward to your brief. Angeline Roberts, would you be in charge and would you begin?
Mrs. Angeline Roberts (President, Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association): Good evening, elders, chiefs, councillors, and the subcommittee.
In the kit there is a brochure which highlights some of the objectives of the organization.
The background of the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association is representative of the status of Indian women throughout Saskatchewan. The organization has five elected members, elected provincially, and in the executive there are seven elected district representatives and eight senators. It is staffed by an executive director and secretary.
Besides taking leadership in the defence of Indian women, SIWA is active in supporting the sponsorship of programs operated by the bands for Indian women in various locations throughout Saskatchewan. Such programs include women’s development programs in the James Smith and Montreal Lake Bands, advance sewing projects in the Okanese. Starblanket and Red Earth bands, a handicraft project in the Kahkewistahaw Band, certified commercial cooking in the Piapot and Muscowpetung Bands, and pre-trades training for women in the Yorkton district. SIWA is involved in the Home Mainte-
nance Program. SIWA has been prominent in the expansion of educational opportunities on the reserves, such as off-campus university classes in psychology, administration, Indian studies, Cree and so forth.
SIWA is in the process of co-ordinating a province-wide research program, and in the negotiation process of nine submissions for the Indian women of the various bands. SIWA also anticipated a day-care centre in the Regina area, targeted for April 1983, as well as elderly home care and handicapped homes in the Touchwood-File Hills-Qu’Appelle District. Approximately 140 women are presently participating and enrolled in these programs.
The existing and proposed programs supported by SIWA are in response to the growing concern among Indian women in Saskatchewan incarcerated in correctional facilities, and the devastating effects of family breakdowns on Indian women across the province. The apprehension in the growing numer of Indian children is also a serious concern for Indian women, as the emotional loss to Indian mothers and to the Indian communities has been staggering.
SIWA’s final concern is with regard to the lack of federal and provincial government support for the Indian Women’s Association and the limited resources made available. Therefore SIWA has been restricted to limited and short-term funding. Due to these governmental restrictions, we find ourselves in constant crisis situations. Our aim is to deliver long-term skill programs that would be greatly enhanced if these obstacles could be overcome.
Indian Act revision: Indian women have, over the last decade and before, fought a continuing battle, both individually and collectively, to end the unfair treatment accorded to women as a result of discriminatory sections of the lndian Act.
SIWA, as an arm of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, fully supports and respects the Chiefs of Saskatchewan and the sovereignty of Saskatchewan Indian nations. The recognition of Indian self-government by the Parliament of Canada is of vital importance to Indian women as it would be a necessary lirst step in placing the responsibility for questions relating to band membership where it has always belonged, in the hands of the bands and the chiefs. SIWA supports the initiative of Indian leadership towards developing a series of Indian Acts covering the many and varied aspects of Indian self-government, especially membership, i.e. citizenship. SIWA further supports the development of a treaty by Indian leadership, one which would allow for the formal recognition of all lndian treaty rights as ongoing and as envisioned by the chiefs at the time treaties were signed.
Indian self-government: SIWA respectfully submits that as the House of Commons subcommittee on Indian self-government you have a unique opportunity, as you conduct your hearings through the length and breadth of Canada. Yours is the rare chance to dialogue with Indian people on Indian land,
in Indian communities, the chance to share with them in the beginning of an ongoing process to define treaty and aboriginal rights, the chance to develop within yourselves a greater sensitivity, a greater awareness and, above all, a greater understanding of the Indian way of life in Canada. The very success of this ongoing constitutional process of defining treaty and aboriginal rights may well depend on the groundwork being laid by your committee in its consultation with Indian leaders across Canada.
Summary: the problems faced by Indian women in Saskatchewan have worsened rather than lessened in recent years. However, solutions to these problems are within reach. The recognition of Indian self-government, the full recognition of our treaty rights and, above all, the development of Indian people, particularly Indian women, hold the keys to unlocking the vault of solutions As the subcommittee on Indian self-government carries out its mandate, the daily struggle of our Indian women goes on. We look forward to your response and we continue to build a future for our children.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Is that the extent of the brief, and are we open for questions?
Mrs. Roberts: Yes.
The Vice-Chairman: Do we have any members who wish to question?
Mr. Chartier: Honourable elders, president and members of SIWA, for a few minutes or less than that, or however long it takes, l would just like you to outline to the members of the committee your concern with respect to lndian child welfare. I know that you people have been very involved in this area and have a major concern. Maybe you could share some of that concern and some possible ways you feel Indian people could get back jurisdiction over Indian children.
Mrs. Dorothy Bird (Secretary, Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association): I think the answer to that would be in working with the arm of our leaders, the FSI. Our interim goal on that is to meet across the province in our own respective reserves—we come from different areas of the Province of Saskatchewan—and collect our women at the band level to discuss these problems and try to resolve them with the assistance of the funding that is needed. What we need at the band level is child-care workers trained to look after our own children, because in the past we have experienced a lot of apprehension about our children and we have seen the responsibility taken out of our own hands with regard to raising our own children. They are put in different foster homes, away from our bands, and they get lost.
We have been meeting with various members of the Federation of Saskatchewan lndian Nations—there are four of them who hold our portfolio. . . to find out what their steps are going to be as leaders of our lndian women.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you. Ijust want to add that I think the role you will play in this whole process is a very important one and, of course, I hope all the members of this committee realize that the future of Indian nations lies with the children and getting jurisdiction back to Indian people in all areas, especially with respect to children.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
Ms Jamieson: Mr. Chairman, I have just one question. First of all, I would like to ask about the extra sheet in our kit. It is also entitled Brief to the House of Commons Subcommittee.
Did you want this in the record as well? There is a separate sheet in my kit. You will be reading that; I will wait to have you read it into the record. I just wanted to compliment SIWA on the excellent brief. It covers the Constitution; it covers self-government: it covers everything. I have no questions on that.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. We will proceed. Dorothy, would you like to read into the record next?
Mrs. Bird: I am a follower of the Indian culture, and in our Indian culture we let our elders speak first, so I would like Philemon to speak first.
The Vice-Chairman: In order, then, Senator Gamble, would you like to address the committee?
Philomene Gamble (Senator, Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association): I usually talk Cree, as that is my language, but seeing there are so many white men here, I guess I will try to talk in my broken English.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much, Senator Gamble. We are trying hard to pick up as much as we can as we cross the country, but we are not doing too well as yet.
Senator Gamble: I was going to talk about how we raised our kids, just like us elders, and how we were raised when we were small. We were poor at that time, but we never starved, because our old grandfathers and dads were good workers. We never used to buy Pampers—what they call Pampers today—we used to make moss bags, dry moss to wrap our babies in, and that used to be so clean. I remember we used to wash in tubs and washboards. You could see that we were good workers at that time. I used to chop wood to try to feed my kids—take the wood to town for just $1.75; but in those days everything was cheap, not like now. But still, we were happy. I was a happy person because I had the love of my parents. The Indian way is that we love each other; no matter what a person is, we love everybody. That is the Indian tradition, love and respect.
I remember when I was small how many times my mum used to hit me when I used to run in front of my grandmother. They used to respect the old people in those days. We never used to answer back, and we never used to see anybody abused. We used to live in tents in summertime, and in log houses in
winter, but I can remember that those days were happy. All we needed was love. That is all.
No matter how bitter a winter was, we used to survive. I still remember—I should not tell this, but I have to—I used to wear man’s pants to go and snare rabbits in the bush, and I am not ashamed of it.
Today, all my kids are real healthy. They never used a feeding bottle; I breast-fed all my kids, and I had 13 of them; 10 still living, and I have 76 grandchildren and 69 great-grandchildren. How many more days to suffer? But I am very happy when I think of those days.
We were so poor one winter I remember. My kids were all small and we lived in a tent all winter, but nobody froze because we put the hay in the tent, on the ground, and we covered half of the tent with snow. My kids were happy playing in there. We just had a little stove to warm ourselves. But I’dld not care how poor I was as long as I was happy with my kids and my now-deceased husband. We used to work hard, chop wood and sell cordwood to other people who had a little more than us. Today, when I think of those old days, I think the good Lord is now putting everything so that life is easy for me today and so I like to help others because I know what it is to be helped.
I give all my love, and I try to help all the women when they are in trouble, especially those who have lots of kids. I am always on the road trying to help my people, because I know I am happier like that, to go around helping people. If I stay in one place I get bored. I have a nice house on the reserve, which was built in 1979.
It is still nice, but still I do not stay in it, I travel all the time, wherever I am wanted. I usually go to the roundups, and I like that a lot, and these elders’ meetings. I know that elders have words of wisdom. I am old myself, but still I listen to the other elders who are older than I. That is where I get all the wisdom. I try my best, although I feel humble sometimes, to tell the people some of what I know about this Indian life.
I remember lots of times how people used to suffer, but still they used to laugh. Nobody ever got mad. They used to have lots of courage, no matter how poor they were. We were lots in the family when we were small. My dad used to have a yoke of oxen, and he used to hitch up those oxen in winter and go and sell a load to feed us. I remember those days. When we used to see those oxen coming away far, we used to put on our little clothes and go and meet our dad to see what he had brought for us. Those were happy days, not like today. I would rather go back to all those Indian days.
I wanted to follow how we were raised, so I tried hard to raise my children that way, but along the line some went astray. I guess I did not breat-feed them. They used a feeding bottle, and now they cannot leave the bottle, and I am sorry for that. If I had known that, I would have put a nipple on a beer bottle; maybe that would stop them. But still, I love them, no
matter what they are. No matter how wicked a person is, he has to be loved. Love and respect, that is the Indian way of life.
I used to hear one elder when we went to the Keeseekoose Reserve. He said that if a person starts saying bad things to you, just hold your head down and do not answer; if he slaps you on the face, do not move, he is putting you a foot up and he is going down a foot. That is what I always tell to my grandchildren and my children, to try to do that; do not get mad so easily, just close your mouth if somebody says anything. I always tell them to look above and pray to the Creator, because it was He who put us on earth here and gave us all these beautiful trees and grass, all the food and all the animals.
The animals used to be so plentiful years ago. Now we have to live in the white man’s way; we have to buy meat. There are hardly any wild things to eat. I remember that in sumertime we used to hitch up the horses and the wagon and go around digging seneca root, and we used to sell that. Those were very happy days. I remember I was so happy; even when I was small and I was with my parents, I was happy just living in the old Indian way.
Today, when I think of those days and the way we are living now, it is so different. I do not say that I am unhappy today. I am happy to see my grandchildren, and I am very happy when they say “nookum”—they say “grandmother”, but “nookum” is what they call me.
I am also very happy to try to help these women here. I do my best. I cannot talk very good English, but in Cree, if you could only hear me, you would stay here for three, four or ten hours. Sometimes I cannot shut up when I talk in Cree. I am trying to help these women in what they are doing. They are doing the best they can to help people too. I am very thankful for Angeline here, when she made me a senator. I am not worthy of being a senator, but I am glad they took me. I always feel humble; I put others above me. I always tell these women to respect the men: love your husbands, love your children, your sons, because they were put on earth for us to love them.
I do not know what else I could say. I do not have to write my speeches, I just use my brain, because I know that all the words I used to hear from elders—those are words of wisdom.
I am 76 years old, but I still like to travel whenever they call me. When I go to the penitentiary for these meetings, boy, I am so happy when I come out of there, seeing those poor guys. They have mothers too, and when they see me coming, all the Indian guys, I know that they respect me. That is why I love them. I am very anxious to go back there again, to go and see them, because everybody calls me “grandma”. When I went to Edomonton one time, there was an 87-year-old guy sitting there. I was looking at him and he looked so old, with white hair. When I was coming out, everybody was shaking hands after this big AA meeting—goodbye, grandma, goodbye, grandma—and this old guy got up and said, “I am very glad the way you talked, grandma”; and he was 87 years old. I was proud to have a white-haired grandchild.
Well, I have talked too much, I guess.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Senator Gamble, for those words of wisdom and that breath of fresh air. We enjoyed it a great deal.
We will continue.
Dorothy, will you read the brief? Thank you.
Mrs. Bird: We have different portfolios in our association, and mine is expansion of programs and services.
The Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association is presently involved in training and development projects throughout the Province of Saskatchewan. We too are experiencing the high unemployment rate at the band level due to the lack of education and lack of skills which lead to lack of job opportunities.
We believe that women of our culture have an important role in supporting the males in carrying out the role of development in the communities. The expansion of programs and services for women at band level include upgrading educational standards, establishing and maintaining a close liaison with the FSIN chiefs and elders, and assisting all women who are encountering economic, social and personal problems by providing an advisory unit.
To develop leadership skills we would like to see child care, child apprehension homes and shelter homes for those in need, treaty Indian day-care centres to assist the women in reaching their capacities, and amalgamation of the band economic developments to further tie in a close working relationship for our children at band level.
We in the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association have met with the Manitoba and Alberta association and have struck up a national committee. As we are not recognized by some of the government agencies, we are asking this committee to recommend that we receive the funding that is allotted for status treaty women. With this we could develop our services on the reserves, as we, the treaty Indian women, are the ones who see the problems generated by poor housing, unemployment, high infant mortality, suicides and others.
The disintegration of Indian society has posed a particularly difficult problem for Indian women. They have lost many of the old ways and old skills and have become unsure of themselves. They are even less certain of their role in a society which seems to have no place for Indians and therefore provides no clear role for Indian women. This fact has contributed to the serious social problems experienced by Indian families, including family breakdown, child neglect, health problems, alcoholism, et cetera.
Our women need to have opportunities made available to them through which they can rediscover the old ways and integrate them with the new ways. They also need support to meet the needs of their husbands and families, and through
which they can support the male members in carrying forward their efforts at social improvement. In particular, women need to have a meaningful role in solving the many social problems which beset Indian society today. Many of these problems have been neglected by traditional government agencies.
The Indian women are best able to fill the crisis needs of other Indian women. They are in contact with and communicate with their people and can mobilize their efforts and energies on their own behalf more effectively than outside agencies. They are aware of the problems and needs of their people and understand the values and expectations of Indian society. Programs and services for Indian women must be based on these values and expectations and must be community based.
We believe that an Indian women’s organization, in partnership with the federation, can ensure that Indian women also have a chance to develop their potential and to take their rightful place in Indian society.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Dorothy.
Chief Walker, would you like to address the committee?
Chief Mary Anne Walker (Snskatchewan Indian Women’s Association): My brief is an oral brief. I was asked by the ladies to sit with them. I am a treaty Indian woman from Saskatchewan, and I am also a chief of Okanese Band. I was called to represent some of the issues that we as chiefs are faced with today, and one of them is membership.
As a chief from my band, our role in the membership question is that each band must have full jurisdiction over their membership. We cannot allow the Department of Indian Affairs to define who is an Indian or who should be on our band list; it is up to the chief and council to decide that. The SIWA women have been mandated by my band to represent me in that situation.
As for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, my hand does not recognize the association for the reason that we are not represented fully as in our treaty rights. We would recommend that the Indian Women’s Association, struck up nationally, would give us a better representation on our treaty Indian issues regarding women.
As mentioned previously, SIWA has met with Manitoba and Alberta to try to strike up a committee, but I do not know what came out of that meeting.
That is all I have to say.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Chief Walker.
Are there any further questions?
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask Dorothy Bird a question.
You say here that you believe that women of your culture have an important role in supporting the males in carrying out the role of development in the communities. Do you feel that women also have a role to play in policy development?
Chief Bird: Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, I am a councillor in my band, where I come from, and I am involved in some of the policies we have made in our band.
Mr. Manly: Would you say that males also have a responsibility to support women in their job of development in the band?
Mrs. Bird: Yes, that is why we are sitting here. They have supported us. They send their delegates to our provincial meetings to support us, and they have also supported us in different and various ways.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
I would like to ask Angeline Roberts just a couple of questions regarding the Indian Act revision.
You say in your brief:
Indian women have, over the last decade and before, fought a continuing battle, both individually and collectively, to end the unfair treatment accorded to the women as a result of discriminatory sections of the Indian Act.
I am wondering if you could tell the committee whether or not the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association has taken any role in that battle, and what SIWA has done with regard to that.
Chief Walker: I will answer that question. I think the role of SIWA is that they are mandated by each chief and council to be represented in issues like that. Each band differs on different sections of the Indian Act regarding status for women, and it is up to each chief and council to define the status of Indian women.
Mr. Manly: So even if there is discrimination, if the chief and council do not wish to take any action on that, then you would feel that SIWA should not take any action on that. Is that what you are saying, Chief Walker?
Chief Walker: I would like to know what you mean by discrimination.
Mr. Manly: It says in here in this brief:
Indian women, over the last decade and before, have fought a continuing battle, both individually and collectively, to end the unfair treatment accorded to the women as a result of discriminatory sections of the Indian Act
One of those sections, as I understand it, would be Section 12(1)(b), which deprives a woman of her Indian status if she marries a non-Indian, whereas a male who marries a non-Indian does not lose his status. I see that as being discriminatory.
Chief Walker: I guess it is up to each chief and council of the respective bands to define that.
Mr. Manly: Okay, thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Seeing no further questions, I wish to thank you very much for your briefs and for answering our questions. We appreciate that.
We have come to the end of a very long day, and I would like to call on Sterling, if he would like to close the meeting off.
Before I do that, we will adjourn after that, until 9.00 a.m. tomorrow.
Mr. Brass: I would like to ask Senator Gamble if she would lead us in a closing prayer this evening.
Would you be kind enough to do that, please?
Senator Gamble: (Speaking in Cree.)
From Treaty No. 2:
Senator Bill Standingready.
From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
Mr. Sterling Brass, Chairman.
From the Pasqua Band:
Elder Walter Gordon.
From the Starblanket Band:
Chief Irvin Starr.
From the Whitebear Band:
Chief Brian Standingready.
From the Yorkton District Chiefs:
Mr. Norman Stevenson, District Representative.
From Lac La Hache Band:
Chief Joe Tsannie.
From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
Mr. Vern Bellegard, Chairman.
From the Peepeekisis Band:
Elder Walter Dieter;
Chief Aubrey Goforth;
Chief George Poitras.
From the Gordon Band:
Senator Hilliard McNabb.
From the James Smith Band:
Chief Angus McLean.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Education Commission:
Mr. Clive Linklater, Member.
From the Read Earth Band:
Chief Alvin Head;
Mr. Ken Hodgins, Resource Person.
From the Prince Albert Student Residence:
Mr. Howard Bighead, Administrator.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College:
Mr. Dennis Acoose, Director.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College:
Mr. Greyeyes, Director.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Community College:
Mr. Ray Ahenakew, Director.
From the Saskatchewan Services for Off-Reserve Treaty Indians:
Ms. Elsie Roberts.
From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
Mr. Gary Waters, Consultant.
From the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations:
Mr. Sterling Brass, Chairman.
From the Black Lake Band:
Chief Ben Toutsaint;
Ms. Mary Rose Yooya, Interpreter.
From the Fond du Lac Band:
Acting Chief Norbert Fern.
From the Saskatoon District Chiefs Convention:
Chief Joe Quewezance;
Mr. Andy Michael, President.
From the Shellbrook District Chiefs:
Senator Lorne Ahenakew.
From Treaty No. 8:
Senator Louis Chicken.
From the Piapot Band:
Chief Roland Crowe.
From the Regina Indian Development Association:
Mr. Glen Gordon.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College Students Union:
Mr. Syd Fiddler.
From the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association:
Mrs. Angeline Roberts, President;
Mrs. Dorothy Bird, Secretary;
Senator Philomene Gamble;
Chief Mary Anne Walker, Okanese Band.
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