Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 5 (25 January 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 5 (25 January 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 5
In Ottawa, Ontario
Tuesday, January 25, 1983
Wednesday, February 9, 1983
Thursday, February 10, 1983
In Nanoose, British Columbia
Monday, February 14, 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 Committee
Pursuant to S.O. 65(4)(b):
On Thursday, January 27, 1983:
Mr. Anguish replaced Mr. Manly.
On Wednesday, February 9, 1983:
Mr. Manly replaced Mr. Anguish.
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
TUESDAY, JANUARY 25, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in camera at 11:18 o’clock a.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Chénier, Manly, Penner, Schellenberger and Tousignant.
Other member present: Mr. Greenaway.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison member present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Marlyn Kane.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katherine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
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.)
The Committee proceeded to consider its future business.
It was agreed that the terms of reference for the following papers, as prepared by the staff and as amended, be adopted and that these papers be commissioned for the Committee:
i) Federal expenditures and mechanisms for their transfer to Indians.
ii) Various models for relations between indigenous peoples and government.
iii) Trust relationships between the Federal Government (the Crown) and the Indian people of Canada.
iv) Questions relating to the economic foundations for Indian self-government.
Mr. Schellenberger moved,—That the Member’s researchers from the three (3) political parties also accompany the Committee on its visit to the United States from January 31 to February 5, 1983.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
At 1:55 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned until 6:15 o’clock p.m., this evening.
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in camera at 6:28 o’clock p.m., the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Chénier, Manly, Penner, Schellenberger and Tousignant.
Other member present: Mr. Greenaway.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds, Research Officer. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
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.)
The Committee proceeded to consider its future business.
Mr. Chenier moved,—That the services of Coopers and Lybrand be engaged to produce the research project entitled “Federal expenditures and mechanisms for their transfer to Indians”.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
It was agreed that the Committee meet on Wednesday, February 9 to consider those who have indicated an interest in the production of the other research projects commissioned by the Committee.
At 6:54 o’clock pm., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in camera at 3:50 o’clock p.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Chénier, Manly, Oberle, Penner, Schellenberger and Tousignant.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Mrs. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison members present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Marlyn Kane. 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. Katherine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
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.)
The Committee proceeded to consider its future business.
Mr. Oberle moved, —That the services of the Policy Development Group be engaged to produce the research project entitled “Various models for relations between indigenous peoples and government”.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
Mr. Chénier moved,—That the services of Messrs. D.C. Nahwegabow, M.W. Posluns, D. Sanders, Don R. Allen and Associates be engaged to produce the research project entitled “Trust relationships between the Federal Government (the Crown) and the Indian people of Canada”.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
Mr. Manly moved,—That the services of Thalassa Research Associates be engaged to produce the research project entitled “Questions relating to the economic foundations for Indian self-government”.
After debate, it was agreed that further consideration of this motion be postponed.
On motion of Mr. Tousignant, it was agreed that the draft itinerary and schedule of meetings and witnesses, prepared by the staff, and as amended, for the Committee’s trip to Saskatchewan from February 28 to March 3, 1983 be approved.
At 5:12 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in camera at 1:58 o’clock p.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Chénier, Manly, Oberle, Penner and Schellenberger.
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.
The Committee proceeded to consider its future business.
Debate was resumed on Mr. Manly’s motion that the services of Thalassa Research Associates be engaged to produce the research project entitled “Questions relating to the economic foundations for Indian self-government”, and the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
Mr. Oberle moved, —That certain members of the staff advance the Committee’s trip to Coastal B.C. to meet with certain witnesses in order to assist them in the preparation of their submissions and that they produce an executive summary for the Members of the Committee concerning this meeting.
After debate, the question being put on the motion, it was agreed to.
At 2:05 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Nanoose, British Columbia at 9:22 o’clock a.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Manly, Oberle, Penner and Schellenberger.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison member present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac.
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 First Nations of South Island Tribal Council: Elder Abel Joe; Chief Thomas Sampson, Tsartlip Band, Chairperson; Chief Wilson Bob, Nanoose Band; Chief Mark Recalma, Qualicum Band; Chief Dennis Alphonse, Cowichan Band; Mr. Gus Underwood, Economic Development Advisor; Councillor Philomena Alphonse, Cowichan Indian Education; Mr. Phillip Paul, Saanich School Board Administrator and Chief Andy Thomas, Esquimalt Band.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference dated Wednesday, December, 1982. (See Minutes of Proceedings, Wednesday, December 22, 1982, Issue No. 1.)
Elder Joe opened the hearings with a prayer.
Chief Bob welcomed the Committee to Nanoose.
Chief Sampson, Chief Recalma, Mr. Underwood, Councillor Alphonse and Chief Alphonse each made a statement and, with Mr. Paul, answered questions.
Elder Joe made a statement and closed the morning session with a prayer.
At 12:45 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned until 1:45 o’clock p.m., this afternoon.
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Nanoose, British Columbia at 1:44 o’clock p.m., the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Manly, Oberle, Penner and Schellenberger.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison member present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac.
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-ordiuator.
Witnesses: From Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council: Mr. George Watts, Chairman; Chief Simon Lucas, Hesquiaht Tribe; Chief Mike Maquinna, Mowachaht Tribe; Chief Sarah Cootes, Huchakthisat Tribe; Chief Hugh Watts, Hupachesaht Tribe; Chief Art Peters, Ohiaht Tribe; Chief Dan David, Kayukwat Tribe; Chief Charlie Thompson, Nitinaht Tribe; Bernice Touchic, Uduelet Tribe; Chief Bert Mack, Tukwaat Tribe; Mr. Francis Smith, Ehattesaht Tribe and Chief Archie Frank, Ahousaht Tribe. From the Kwakiutl Tribal Council: Mr. Basil Ambers, Chairman of the Executive; Chief David J. Hunt, Kwakiutl Band; Mr. Wedlide Speck, Special Assistant and Chief John Smith, Turnour Island Band.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council opened their presentation with a warrior’s song.
Chief Lucas of the Hesquiaht Tribe and Chief Bob of the Nanoose Band each made a statement.
Mr. Watts made a statement and, with Chief Frank answered questions.
At 3:40 o’clock p.m., the sitting was suspended.
At 4:05 o’clock p.m., the sitting resumed.
Mr. Ambers of the Kwakiutl Tribal Council made a statement.
The Kwakiutl Tribal Council presented a film entitled: “Potlatch—A Strict Law Bids Us Dance.”
Mr. Ambers continued his statement.
Chief Hunt, Mr. Speck, Chief Smith and, with Mr. Ambers, unswered questions.
At 6:35 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Monday, February 14, 1983
The Chairman: Order, please.
The meeting of the Special Committee of the Parliament of Canada on Indian Self-Government is called to order. The proceedings this morning will commence with the calling upon Able Joe, an elder, to open with an Indian prayer. I call upon Mr. Able Joe, please.
Mr. Able Joe (Elder, Cowichan Band): [Opening prayer in native language— Editor]
The Chairmam Thank you, Elder Able Joe, for opening the proceedings with the ceremonial prayer. We thank you very much for that.
I call next on Chief Wilson Bob of the Nanoose Band for some opening remarks. Chief Bob.
Chief Wilson Bob (Nanoose Band): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We welcome the committee and the chiefs and the witnesses who will be making these presentations today. It is indeed a great honour. As you can see, our hall is fairly new, and it is a pleasure to see it being put to such good use. I very sincerely hope that all of our presentations bear fruit, and I would like to thank all of you for coming.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Chief Bob. On behalf of the committee, let me say how pleased we are to be here. There are two members of our special committee who are not with us today. They have been delayed and will join us in Vancouver. I just want to point out that the parliamentary secretary to the minister, Mr. Henri Tousignant, is not able to be here today. He will join us tomorrow. Also, Mr. Clem Chartier, who is the liaison member for the Native Council of Canada, will join us in Vancouver tomorrow. I would also like to point out that we have a new member of the committee today. Sandra Isaac is representing the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and we are pleased to have Sandra as a liaison member of the committee today.
Before getting down to work, I would like to call upon one member of the special committee to provide you with some introductory remarks and background comments concerning our work. I am going to ask a very able member of the committee—not only of the special committee, but also of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development—Mr. Jim Manly, who is the MP for Cowichan— Malal1at—The Islands, to start by explaining a little about how we came to be and what we hope to accomplish.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to thank Chief Wilson Bob and other members of Indian nations on Vancouver Island for your welcome to our
committee. This is the first time that the special committee has held hearings in British Columbia.
We want to emphasize that this is a Special Committee of the House of Commons. It is not a committee that is appointed by the Department of Indian Affairs or by the Minister of Indian Affairs. Our responsibility comes from the 282 members of the House of Commons, and it is to the House of Commons that we report, and it is to them that we will make recommendations for government action that we hope the government will take.
Our committee is an all-party committee. The chairman, Mr. Keith Penner, is a Liberal member from northern Ontario; the vice-chairman, Mr. Stan Schellenbcrger, is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party from Alberta; the Hon. Warren Allmand, a Liberal member from Quebec and a former Minister of Indian Affairs; Mr. Frank Oberle, a Progressive Conservative member from northern British Columbia; and, as the chairman has pointed out, the parliamentary secretary, Mr. Henri Tousignant, and also Mr. Ray Chenier are not here.
In addition to members from the House of Commons, this special committee has representation on an ex officio basis from the Assembly of First Nations: Ms Roberta Jamieson, who acts on behalf of the assembly and has taken a very active and helpful role within our committee. This special committee has representation on an ex-officio basis from the Assembly of First Nations, Ms Roberta Jamieson, who acts on behalf of the Assembly and has taken a very active and helpful role within our committee. We also have liaison members from the Native Council of Canada who are not with us today; and from the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Ms Sandra Isaac.
To date, we have held hearings in Ottawa from some of the national organizations and some government departments. We have also held hearings in local communities in Alberta, southern Manitoba and Northern Ontario. We hope that by some time in the late spring we will have been able to hold hearings in every part of Canada. As there are over 500 Indian nations in Canada, we will not be able to hear individual presentations from each of those. But we do hope that any individual or bands or tribal councils that have submissions that they wish to make to us, if they are not able to get on our agenda, we are certainly able to receive written submissions and they will be considered in the testimony.
With those few remarks, I would like to conclude simply by saying that it is good to be on Vancouver Island and we look forward to today’s hearings.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Jim.
We are now ready to begin our work and our first brief this morning will be a presentation from the Nations of South Island Tribal Council. I am going to call upon the chairperson of that tribal council, Chief Thomas Sampson, to introduce those who are with him today. I want to say, however, that we are pleased to see you again, Chief. Last year the standing
committee had hearings in Vancouver, and I just wanted you to know that the report that we tabled to Parliament, I think, turned out to be a very influential report. One of the recommendations was that this special committee be struck and that was eventually accepted after long negotiations. We are now at work, as Jim Manly has outlined. We are happy to see you once again and we would be pleased if you would now introduce those who are with you.
Chief Thomas Sampson (Chief, Tsartlip Band, First Nations of South Island Tribal Council): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Those of us who will speak and give witness today are Chief Dennis Alphonse from the Cowichan Reserve; Chief Wilson Bob from Nanoose; Chief Andy Thomas from Esquimalt. Mr. Chairman, we have a person who is late this morning, Phillip Paul, the administrator of the Saanich Indian School Board. In his place I have Gussie Underwood who will read the submission. We also have Councillor Philomena Alphonse, Cowichan Indian Education. And finally, Chief Mark Recalma, who will also be making a presentation, Mr. Chairman. Those are the witnesses whom we will be using for the hearing.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
At this time we would be happy if you would read into the record the document that you have prepared and then, if you are willing, we would like to enter into some discussion with you, various members of the committee taking their turn.
Chief Sampson: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
The submission of the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council, a proclamation of sovereignty and statement for the subcommittee on Indian self-government, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Mr. Chairman, we, the members of the First Nations of South Island Council are here representing our First Nations governments, in our own right. We are speaking to you as government to government.
We are not here to speak about the unjust treatment we have received during the last 100 years. Much has been stated by our people through various submissions that have been presented to the Government of Canada, governmental ministers, governmental agencies, task forces and standing committees with no acknowledgment or little response.
At this time we are concerned about the recommendations that will be forthcoming from this subcommittee regarding our First Nations governments. We disagree with the format adopted for this committee, whereby organizations and different departments of the federal government will be making submissions regarding our First Nations government and whereby your subcommittee will be going outside of Canada to examine other governmental structures of aboriginal people.
We will not be categorized as a non-government witness. Our governments have been in existence long before the coming of the European immigrants. We are the people who will decide what our First Nations governments are to be. How each First Nation structures its governments is its decision, not the various departments of governments, not this subcommittee or not by using other forms of government structured outside of Canada.
We have rejected the federal Indian government bill. However, it is being introduced piece by piece through this subcommittee as recommendations to our First Nations government. We have seen the submissions by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development whereby he proposes to create a number of acts. Examples: Indian Education Act, Indian Land Act, Indian Membership Act and Indian Financial Administration Act. We will not allow the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, or the Government of Canada, to legislate the federal government’s trust responsibility to the provinces. Examples: Education, health, welfare et cetera. We will not sit back and watch this subcommittee make recommendations that will subtract from our First Nations government. We are here to tell you that we will define and design our own structures.
At this time, we present to this committee our proclamation of sovereignty, to reaffirm the national declaration of First Nations, and also to reaffirm the treaty and aboriginal rights principles. We are once and for all time setting in place our role, the role that is rightfully ours, our place in Canada as sovereign nations.
Sovereignty Proclamation: We the original people know the Creator placed us on this land.
We proclaim we are the sovereigns of this land.
We proclaim as sovereigns our rights to enjoy and powers to exercise over our lands, waters, air, and its resources; and
We proclaim our right to exercise all powers related to sovereignty, and;
We proclaim our right to determine the degree of sovereignty we wish to exercise, and;
We proclaim these are our rights and powers as they were given to us by the Creator, just as all other sovereign nations of the earth.
We, the governments of the First Nations of South Island, state emphatically that we are sovereign nations. We will work towards establishing a guaranteed, stable and workable relationship within Canada’s confederacy. As First Nations we have a rightful place in this country and we will strive for some way that our government and your government can co-exist. Let us not work towards anything less than a strong united Canada. We do not want to divide this country up into small
segments as some of you may think. Examples: the western Canada concept or Quebec separation.
Although there will be a first ministers’ conference in March 1983 on Sections 37(2) of the Constitution to identify our rights, we will be attending once again in our own right to proclaim our sovereignty.
We will be intending once again in our own right to proclaim our sovereignty. We will not let this Section 37 conference or the Section 49 conference in 15 years’ time to be the decision-maker for our future or for our future generations. We will not let the First Ministers pass legislation that will keep our people oppressed, as we are today. We want to build a solid foundation on which our future generations can continue to build.
It is only when structures of dependence and welfare are removed that equality and self-determination can be achieved; equality in the sense that we will be accountable directly to our people and then to the Parliament of Canada, not to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; self-determination in the sense of having control of our lands, water, air and resources without having to acquire the consent of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. All this becomes a reality with the recognition of the First Nations government.
This will not be a racial or an ethnic franchise, but a distinct order of government in Canada whereby our First Nations government and the Government of Canada can co-exist and have a workable and harmonious relationship. Through this we can develop guaranteed stable and workable financial arrangements.
We strongly emphasize that the recommendations coming from this subcommittee emulate the direction in which this presentation is submitted. Many times submissions and position papers by our organization and by our provincial organizations have not been acknowledged by government or committees. During the past several decades we have submitted a number of Indian government position papers. To mention a few: December, 1967, by the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal Federation, on Welfare Services to Indians, presented to the Hon. Arthur Lange, Minister of Indian Affairs, Government of Canada, and the Hon. Dan Campbell, Minister of Social Welfare, Government of British Columbia;
October, 1967, by the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal Federation, a brief on proposed changes to the Indian Act, presented to the Hon. Jean Chretien, Minister of Indian Affairs, and to the Hon. Robert Andras, Minister without Porfolio, Government of Canada;
January, 1974, by the Southern Vancouver Island Tribal Federation, a brief on housing, presented to the Hon. Jean Chretien, Minister of Indian Affairs, Government of Canada;
1980, by our provincial organization, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, our Aboriginal Rights Position Paper, presented to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau;
May, 1982, by the South Island District Council, our Indian budget, presented to the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs.
To date, little action or no acknowledgement is evident regarding those submissions. But in return, the federal government (a) at one time outlawed our potlach and forbade us to organize; (b) harrassed us, imposed fines, or imposed lines and incarceration when we carried out our customary or traditional fishing and hunting; (c) allowed the sale of our children to other countries; (d) provided little or no support to our Indian people who are in financial trouble while you bail our Dome Petroleum or provide interest-free or low-interest loans to other countries; (e) imposed policies interpreted in many different ways by Ottawa, regional, district and staff of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to suit their varying needs and personal whims—for example, the cut-back on education funds to off-reserve membership, Section 69 of the Indian Act, etc.—(f) continues to play politics with budgets to create animosity between bands or individuals; (g) told us that only Ottawa knows best the needs of the Indian people—an example of this, the operational plan, membership, etc.—(h) limited the powers of the Indian governments or threatened the Indian governments that DIAND would go into co-management with them, as DIAND says we are poorly trained, inefficient, ineffective; (i) through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and/or Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development staff, continues to coerce Indian governments, collective Indian governments and individuals to incorporate under the provincial laws before the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will provide any funds to them, whether it be for administration or for economic development purposes, for example, foreshore, etc.
We have been continuously forced by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to prepare five-year forecast budgets while the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development goes on record and states, “You cannot write budgets ahead of time, 10 years ahead of time, 5 years ahead of time, before the eventuality comes.” We see the present structures as being paternalistic and designed to keep us oppressed. For it has been stated, “Given the increase in Indian population, the moneys needed by the Department simply to maintain the present level of poverty amongst Indian people would have to double every five years.” We do not want to be subjected to this same structure for the next century.
In conclusion, if this subcommittee is sincere about the structure of our First Nations governments, then the direction must come from our people. We hope this is not a waste of our time or an effort to divert our attention from the First Ministers conference. This subcommittee should be supporting our presentation as well as supporting the Assembly of First Nations’ position at the First Ministers conference in March
on Section 37.(2) of the Constitution, and not wait for the fall sitting of the House of Commons to make our position known.
The recommendations coming from this subcommittee on Indian self-government should first be tabled with our Indian government to ensure that you have properly interpreted our Indian self-government position before submitting it to the Parliament of Canada.
We thank you beforehand for implementing this paper and presenting this as the position for the governments of the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council.
Mr. Chairman, that is our submission to this committee. At the back of our written submission is the Declaration and Principles.
We would like to state, Mr. Chairman, before we make our other submissions, that we really and truly hope this committee is sincere in its efforts to achieve some of the goals we are trying to achieve at this time, because if this is going to be just a mere exercise of a committee willing to listen to Indian people, then this will have been a waste of time. I hope this is not the case.
Mr. Chairman, at this time, and with your pleasure, I would also like to read the other two submissions and then we can go back to the questions, if that is all right with you.
One submission will be read by Mark Recalma. The other one, on education, is a presentation from Phillip Paul, Chairman of the Saanich Indian School Board. It will be read by Gus Underwood, unless Phillip is here.
The Chairman: Chief, we would be very happy to hear those submissions, and we will do so immediately.
However, I did want to take just a moment to draw to your attention something which I think is very important to all the members of this committee. You made reference to the fact that we met with you and other Indian leaders in Vancouver in May 1982, and that date is referred to in your submission.
You draw to our attention that there is dissatisfaction with the amount of action or acknowledgement taken. I did want to report to you on this occasion that the members of the standing committee submitted to the House of Commons a very powerful and effective report. It is known as the “Fifth Report”On the basis of that report, my colleague from the Official Opposition, Mr. Schellenberger, and my colleague from British Columbia who is also in the opposition, Mr. Oberle, launched a full-day debate on Indian affairs in the House of Commons. It received widespread attention, and the debate was based on that Fifth Report. Perhaps I could just take a moment of your time to tell you what that report said about the British Columbia region. I quote from the Fifth Report:
(9) In its hearings during two days in Vancouver, your Committee heard numerous criticisms about the funding and management operations of the regional and district offices in British Columbia. The testimony of the witnesses, who represented a cross-section of Indian bands and organizations throughout the province, revealed several recurring themes:
(a) departmental operating and management costs are extraordinarily high;
(b) the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development prevents Indians from determining their own priorities;
(c) departmental officials fail to consult adequately with Indians in the region and district managers dominate Indian bands;
(d) current departmental programs are failing;
(e) the Department, in the development and application of its programs, ignores existing diversities among Indian bands in the various parts of the province;
(f) approval of the budgets of Indian bands is frequently delayed, resulting in wasteful interest charges being incurred by the affected bands. Further, it was alleged that funds were being disproportionately allocated;
(g) departmental welfare services are below the provincial level;
(h) the Department fails to provide guidelines, or an adequate delineation of its financial responsibilities, in relation to those of the bands;
(i) the “Master Tuition Agreement” with the Province of British Columbia, costing some $3,000 per child/per year, fails to meet its objective;
(j) while the estimates show an increase in the region’s administrative costs, band budgets have not been proportionately augmented; and,
(k) economic development policies leaving Indian bands to establish themselves as corporate entities erode their Indian status.
(10) Consequently, in accordance with the recommendations made by several Indian witnesses in British Columbia, and other witnesses during the year, your Committee requests that the Government of Canada take steps to further reduce the size of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and to transfer more responsibilities, monies and person/years to the Indian bands and organizations so they can have a larger role in running their own affairs.
(11) The members of the Committee further recommend an independent inquiry, specifically with regard to activities carried out by the regional office in conjunction with Indian band members and officials of the Westbank Indian Band in British Columbia, as well as all other
governmental economic development ventures affecting Indian people in the British Columbia Region.
Now Chief, I have taken just a moment to run through that, because I did want you to know that you and the other witnesses we heard in Vancouver made a powerful impression upon the members of the standing committee, and we did what we are able to do—that is, report directly to the Parliament of Canada in the Fifth Report. I did want you to know that there was acknowledgement, and there was action, and that some of the action from those two days in Vancouver is still proceeding. All of that is just by way of putting it on the record so that you know we are operating on the same wavelength and going in the same direction.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, the concern here is that we do not always hear these things as they are being passed on through to the Government of Canada.
The Chairman: I understand.
Chief Sampson: So we would appreciate it if, when we make submissions, the acknowledgements could be forwarded to our tribal council. When these things are read into the record, whether it be in the Parliament of Canada or within the committee itself, we would appreciate the information being forwarded to our council.
The Chairman: Well, Chief, you make a very good point. When I assumed the chairmanship of the standing committee, the members told me that they wanted all of our work to be communicated directly to the bands and the tribal councils. We instructed the Department of Indian Affairs to send out all of the proceedings of the committee right across the country and, to the best of my knowledge, that is being done consistently. But if there is ever a problem in that regard, in that you are not receiving these documents or do not know of the work we are doing, we want to hear about it because the department has been instructed to keep all Indian bands and tribal councils aware of what we are doing.
Chief Sampson: Thank you very much.
Ms Jamieson: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: A point of order from Roberta Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: I know that the Department of Indian Affairs has got the direction to send out a Hansard to the bands across the country and the Indian governments; unfortunately, either it goes three months later than it ought to, or it never reaches the bands. We hear this a lot. Or it goes along with three feet of other information coming out of the Department of Indian Affairs, which is often disregarded for a good reason by the chiefs. So I just want to make that point. We have made the point before that, perhaps, it should come right out directly from the House, or in some fashion other than to rely on the Department of Indian Affairs, which does not have a good record, to say the least.
The Chairman: Roberta, we thank you for that comment, and I am going to ask the clerk to make a note of that. At one
of our meetings in the very near future, when we deal with administration and procedure, I think we should look at that particular issue, because we want to be very very sure that Indian bands know as quickly as possible the kind of work that we are doing.
Chief, we are now ready to hear the other presentations. The next one will be. . .
Chief Sampson: Mark Recalma from the Qualicum Band.
The Chairman: —the Qualicum Band, yes. Thank you very much.
Chief Mark Recalma (Qualicum Band): Thank you for the opportunity to express the views of the members of the Qualicum Band on Indian self-government.
I would like first to make a few general comments on the manner in which we have arrived at the present form of government we have in this country today, particularly as laws relate to Indian bands. My main concern, which has always been of the utmost importance to members of the Qualicum Band, however, is in this area of economic development, and the self-determination of individuals within our band. So with your indulgence, I would like to point out a few facts that we have to live with from day to day, and make a recommendation to overcome some of the more obvious obstacles which stand in our way.
After only a cursory look at the various bits of legislation pertaining to Indians, which were enacted after Canada was first settled by the Europeans over a century ago, it becomes abundantly clear that the laws were meant to protect the settlers and exploit the vast resources of our land. The laws had very little, if anything, to do with the well-being of the indigenous people who had inhabited this land for centuries under strict laws which had evolved to protect the resources, the nations of people and, of course, individuals belonging to the various nations. The laws of the indigenous people have consistently been ignored by newcomers, although they have stood the test of time and could be used as models in many fields which are now in such a state of confusion.
It seems that laws have evolved, not as a result of careful study, which takes into account the needs of the various groups within a country and conservation of the resources of that country, but as a haphazard response to special interest groups who have promised to make vast financial contributions to political groups in power, in return for laws which were of special value to the particular group. The practice goes on to this day with refinements to suit the sophistication of the times.
Another point to keep in mind is that it is only a generation since native people have had free access to public education. English is a second language to the majority of Canada’s native people, so it has been relatively easy for civil servants raised and educated in English to manipulate the intent of some of the submissions laboriously presented by people fluent in another language but desperate to have their point of view heard. Because of the fear of an uprising, native people were
forbidden for a time to assemble except for religious purpose. Despite the language barrier and such unjust laws, the native people have managed to convey concisely their views.
There is no need to go into detail, but examples can be found in presentations to governments by native people since the first laws were enacted. There are hundreds of books of minutes of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development alone, not to mention the hundreds of committees of various departments of government which have received submissions over the past century by, or on behalf of, native people all across this vast land.
The answers are at your fingertips. Really, there is no reason to have another moment’s study on the subject. Could the reason for this latest round of talks be yet another red herring to divert the attention of native people while something important is taking place in the back rooms of Ottawa?
Submissions have been presented over the years which, if taken seriously, could settle, once and for all, the problems of the status of Indian women who marry men without Indian status under the Indian Act. The briefs have been ignored and the issue is trotted out every time the native people of the country seem to be on the verge of a unified front to tackle major issues ofaboriginal rights and the land question.
The question of the status of Indian women is only one of many, and mention it only as an example of how the government is prepared to continue the old divide and rule concept, which has worked so well in this and every other country in the world for centuries.
A new jargon is initiated every so often to lead us to believe that changes are taking place. Indian self-government is nothing but jargon until native people can effectively take control of our own destiny without first having to bow to the whims of bureaucrats, not only within the Department of Indian Affairs, but in virtually every branch of government at every level—municipal, provincial, federal—as well as private institutions, such as banks. It is virtually impossible to develop a viable business on an Indian reserve, either by a band or an individual, because of legislation and regulations. Businesses have been started but very few bear fruit before they are shot down by one rule or another. Until bands are free to develop the resources available, self-government will remain just a word.
Another major stumbling block to development is the manner in which the natural resources are managed. Native people had, for centuries, lived off the land and sea and managed the resources so that immediate needs and future needs were kept balanced. Today, the resources are managed by civil servants with little or no practical knowledge of the resource in question and virtually no experience in the field of free enterprise. The last people to benefit from any rules and
regulations made by civil servants are the native people, who so carefully nurtured the same resources for centuries.
Self-government should go hand in hand with strong independent people who have access to management of their resources. Historically, native laws are made in close communion with nature; therefore, until management of the resources is returned to native people, self-government would be a hollo victory.
Because members of the Qualicum band have historically depended on the resources of the sea for survival, I will limit my examples of problems and recommendations to fishing.
I am a commercial fisherman, like my father, who first took me out on a salmon seine boat when I was four years old. I have been the skipper of my own boat since I was 19. My father was chief of our band for 18 years before I was elected last year. The Qualicum band office was located in our home until the spring of 1980. I make this information known simply to show that I have been involverlwith the affairs of my people and the fishing industry for as long as I can remember.
I do not mean to sound negative or cynical, but I will give some personal examples to show just how difficult it is for a person of native ancestry to simply acquire and maintain a semblance of independence, while at the same time maintaining a strong cultural identity, since native people are always expected to be subservient and thankful for the crumbs handed to them.
It is less than 60 years since native people were allowed to have personal fishing licences. Marine subsidies were not available to native fishermen, so we had to run boats owned by fishing companies to be able to participate in the harvesting of our resources.
The Indian Fishermen’s Assistance Program was initiated in the late 1960s, supposedly to correct the injustices suffered by native fishermen. However, rather than correct the problems more were created:
Native fishermen were granted a portion of the cost of construction or upgrading of a fishing vessel, with the balance covered by a personal down payment and loan—which has to be repaid, with interest, within a given period of time. The problem here is that other grants—both in this province and on the east coast, and in other areas, such as farming—are outright grants and are not subject to taxation. The grant portion of IFAP is subject to taxation. The policy was never clearly defined until 1981, when the Department of Revenue made a ruling that the grant was indeed subject to taxation. Many of our accountants had treated the grant as they did grants from ARDA, for instance, and native fishermen were heavily penalized for this oversight. It might be pointed out, at this time, that marine subsidies to non-native fishermen were not subject to tax. Four non-native fishermen were given outright grants totalling the entire amount allotted to the Indian Fishermen’s Assistance Program, while we made down payments, loan payments with interest and were taxed on the
grant portion. We were still obliged to compete, on an equal basis, on the fishing grounds.
Native fishermen have a special licence category because of our historic place in the industry. The Al costs $10, as opposed to $2,000 for non-native seiners. There are two problems here: We have to pay income tax on the difference of $1,990, which comes to close to negating the saving; the AI licence is frozen, so we can no longer borrow to upgrade our vessels or realize a fill market value on our investment, which has been considerable.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce manual states that a person resident on an Indian reserve is exempt from seizure of real and personal property under Section 89 of the Indian Act, with the exception of property sold under a chattel mortgage. So we cannot borrow for upgrading or purchasing a boat even though the licence is not in the Indian licence category under such a restriction, so we are restricted to borrowing from lFAP—which, by the way, no longer has any funds available for loans.
Only a small minority of native fishermen can survive under such handicaps, so our place in the industry is slowly diminishing. We resent this fact because we are good fishermen, the resource is ours, and without our lifeline to the sea we will be lost as a people.
The only recommendation we are prepared to make is that native people be made equal partners in the management of the natural resources of our land and of the sea, which have never been lawfully extinguished by any government. Without our involvement in the management of the resources which have been our livelihood for centuries, we cannot formulate plans for economic independence on our reserves, and without economic independence, the word “self-government” becomes yet another mockery.
There is one consistent thread running through all this, that is the subconscious conditioning of native people to believe that they are responsible, somehow, for all the failures over the years. Native people are led to believe that they cannot conform to policies—policies which are always developed by people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The guaranteed incomes, holidays with pay, indexed pensions depend entirely on maintaining things as they are. Think about it. What would happen to all those people, if we were allowed the freedom to make our own decisions, reap the benefits of our labour and suffer the results of our mistakes? To put it simply, if we were allowed to be responsible and/or accountable for our own actions, who would take responsibility for the hundreds of people who depend on us for a living?
This statement, Mr. Chairman… we find it hard to take this exercise seriously. It is fine and dandy to come here and talk. These are the day-to-day things that we have to put up with all the time. So we have a hard time—I have a hard time . . . sitting in this room dealing with this sort of thing.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Chief.
Chief Sampson, there is one more presentation.
Chief Sampson: Gus Underwood will read in place of the statements that Mr. Paul was going to make—he will read that, unless Phillip is here.
The Chairman: Gus Underwood.
Mr. Gus Underwood (Adviser, First Nations of South Island): Thank you very much, Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
An education report to this committee prepared by the Saanich School Board for the South Island Tribal Assembly of First Nations.
In 1979, the National Indian Brotherhood presented a policy paper on Indian control of Indian education to the federal government. This policy paper was applauded by the House of Commons and endorsed by the federal government.
It has been a little over 10 years since this policy was presented and accepted as the direction Indian education would proceed in. The principle of Indian control of Indian education is really given only lip service in the Province of British Columbia. The major portion of the education budget in the British Columbia region of the Department of Indian Affairs goes to the provincial government to honour an archaic contract known as the master tuition agreement. This agreement was signed in 1969 between the federal government and the British Columbia government without Indian involvement or consent. The Minister of Education for the Province of British Columbia stated in 1979 that, regardless of any agreement, the provincial government will provide education services to status Indians, because this is their right as provincial citizens.
It is time to remove this duplication of funding and utilize the saving to implement Indian control of education in a serious way in British Columbia. Why Indian control of Indian education? The federal and provincial governments do not really believe in Indian control of Indian education. They have not stated this in words or policies, but their actions have demonstrated that they are proceeding on policies that are designed without discussion with, or the involvement of, Indian people. The record speaks for itself in the slow and painful progress Indian education has made in 8ritish Columbia.
The poor economic situation that is plaguing the country at this time is crushing the very essence of Indian families. This is directly related to the historical misunderstanding of how Indian people can be fitted into the mainstream of society. The arrogant manner in which the federal government dealt with the Indian people on the patriation of the Canadian constitution is evidence that the federal government is not looking for solutions to the social ills Indian people are forced to deal with, but is pressing on with removing Indian people from federal government responsibility and shifting it to the respective provinces without care for finding real solutions.
If all the money that is presently earmarked for Indian education were directed toward Indian objectives and priorities, permanent solutions could be arrived at and the social dependency would be eliminated. Forced assimilation is the main cause of unhealthy dependency that the general Canadian public is angry about. Every dollar that is assigned to Indian programs in Canada is acquired by meeting the hidden demands of government objectives for Indian people. This includes the dollars that are turned over to bands for their administration.
This story must be told to the Canadian public because if real control is not offered Indian people, with no strings attached, the story of non-progress and increased dependency will be the end result. I am not suggesting that Indian people receive funds that they do not have to account for. Accountability for finances is an academic exercise. What I am saying is that flexibility is needed in the use of funds based on policies that emanate from cultural understanding of the Indian people.
I did not come here with statistical data, nor did I come here to cover my words with academic jargon. I believe it is time that your committee instruct the federal government to stop taking policy changes suggested by Indian people and playing semantics with them to fit them into the government’s hidden agenda for Indian policies in Canada.
Indian control of Indian education can be a place to begin. Education does not have to be acquired at the price of killing the Indian culture. If Indian control of Indian education is, indeed, the expressed policy of the federal government, then moves should be made immediately to conclude the master tuition agreement between the British Columbia government and the federal government.
Indian people should not have to pay twice for their education. The money freed by this action would give hands a financial boost for Indian control of Indian education at the band level. I challenge you at this time to tell me why this cannot be done.
Initially, was going to go into detail on the problems we face as Indian people within the educational system, but in examining the record of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs over the years, it did not give me much encouragement to think they can effect much change against a majority government that has its mind made up about everything except the economy. This is just my way of telling you that, in this game of politics, delusion is the master. While you are sitting here listening to age-old grievances that very seldom go beyond table documents, the federal government has a confidential document indicating how they intend to abandon Indian people, which is not unlike the termination policy suggested in 1969.
This policy was borrowed, almost word for word, from the termination policy on Indian people in the United States. The effects of this ill-conceived plan had disastrous results in the
United States. We must do better than that in Canada. The context of the confidential document are paraphrased in the following points: 1. That Indian Affairs be dissolved and funds appropriated by Parliament to status Indians be distributed, on a per capita basis, to each band; 2. That municipal status be established under the guise of Indian government to provincial jurisdiction; 3. That Indian Affairs be dissolved and funds appropriated by the Parliament of Canada be distributed to each status individual, to conclude special status for Indian people.
This type of government strategy makes a farce of the first ministers’ conference with Indian leaders which will be held this spring. It appears to me that the Bill of Rights contained in the patriated Constitution is going to be used by the Parliament of Canada to strip Indian people of the little that was left to them after their onslaught of white settlement. It will be done in the name of equality. This is a principle that cannot be guaranteed by law and, in fact, will suppress the Indian people even more. Even with the limited protection Indian people had over the last century for their social, economic and cultural survival, they have suffered on most fronts.
In conclusion, I want you gentlemen and ladies, who represent the Parliament of Canada, to take my words back to your respective parties and to recommend that the party lives and politics be set aside for a genuine look, along with Indian leaders, at the Indian situation in Canada.
We are concerned about the economy and the protection of democracy in Canada. We are also interested in a just and human resolution to the poverty, degradation and the dependency role that we have been forced to play. Our pride forces us not to plead, but our suffering people tell us we must.
Each one of you must ask yourself, in the citadel of your own inner being, what is right for the Indian people in Canada. We say, give us more control over our lives and guarantees of consistent funding from the sale of our natural resources. In essence, give us the tools and we will no longer be a burden.
Phillip C. Paul, Chairman, Saanich Indian School Board.
The Chairman: Mr. Sampson, are there further submissions?
Chief Sampson: Yes, Mr. Chairman, Philomena Alphonse from the Cowichan Band, on the same subject of education.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Ms Philomena Alphonse (Councillor, Cowichan Indian Education): Thank you, Tom. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my position here will just more or less elaborate the statements made by Phillip Paul.
I hold the same position in Cowichan 8and; my position being administrator of Indian education. I will just go into some details as to what our concerns are.
As you all are aware, the administration dollars were cut out of Indian education by Ottawa as of last year. The manner in which Indian Affairs handle administration dollars is to give no notification or explanation as to why these things happen and this is beyond what we can understand. I will give you an example of the Cowichan Indian Band budget. We were told we had to go to Treasury Board submission for the one band. Three budgets were made over and over again under the direction of Indian Affairs personnel, Some of our dollars were put into the contingency portion of our budget and we were told that it would be approved at a later date. As a result, my program is running into a serious deficit. There is really no confirmation or reason for some of these actions or explanations. I have often said to Indian Affairs’ personnel that if we are to administer our dollars, then we have to talk as people and as administrators, to be able to plan properly the accountability we have to give.
The other concern I have is what Phillip Paul already mentioned; the master tuition. I was put into a position about an agreement between a parochial school that was built years back, without our consultation, and suddenly this year, Indian Affairs wanted to see our agreement regarding our tuition payments to our band members who go to Queen of Angels. Now it is questioned because the original agreement that was made between Indian Affairs and the parochial school was not mentioned in our agreement today.
Cowichan Band is in the process of planning an educational complex. This has caused numerous delays because there is already an agreement made by two parochial school in the district. Master tuition is always mentioned. They do not realize the reason Cowichan Band has decided to try and overcome some of our problems and to at least succeed in Indian education the way we would like to see things happen, The only concern bureaucrats seem to have is that they already have an agreement in existence; what are you doing?
The other concern I have as administrator of Indian education seems to be policy changes in Ottawa. As one speaker has said, they tend to divide and rule. One department claims another department is either—in my case, it is always Ottawa that makes decisions on behalf of the Cowichan Indian Band because of the nature of our budget being so large.
Cowichan Indian Sand also runs a nursery school and, as you all know, some of our band members move on and off the reserve. At any time that our band members leave the reserve, I lose the tuition payments and these are on a billing system, per month. It seems unfair to penalize people when they are over-crowded in their homes and have to leave temporarily. I think it is an unjust policy. I think recommendations should be made for status people who temporarily leave their homes because of housing problems.
The serious problems I have in post- secondary this year has been that at a late date I have received a letter informing me that tuition payments for career programs cannot be charged to the post-secondary budget after all. Yet, early in September, I was told that career programs should be charged to the post-secondary part of my budget. The career programs, to me, is one of the most important programs for our people
because they are taking a two-year course in university and not a four-year degree course. But Manpower has also told me it is in no position to pay career programs.
There are a number of concerns I have personally encountered when trying to administer Indian education within the Cowichan Indian Band. The five bands amalgamated to try and help young mothers with the infant stimulation program. I just received a call on Friday that I will finally have funding for one year. But after that, nobody in the department knows who would take responsibility to administer this program. The simple reason, I am told, is that no department has the computers. So it makes me wonder who is running the country. From where I sit, it seems to be the computers. If we do not fit the computers, that is too bad.
I think these are the individual concerns that I have elaborated on what Phillip Paul has already said, Mr. Chairman. That is all I have.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, for the final statement from our committee before the question period starts, Dennis Alphonse, Chief of the Cowichans, would like to make some remarks and then we can get into this.
Chief Dennis Alphonse (Chief of Cowichan Band): Thank you, Tom. Chiefs, ladies and gentlemen, members of the special committee of the Government of Canada, I would first of all like to say that Cowichan is the largest band in British Columbia, having over 1,800 people. We have about 6,000 acres of land, with about 150 acres under commercial leases. All taxes collected from these established businesses go to the City of Duncan. I would like to say, also, that Cowichan was started with part-time staff in the mid-1960s and, to date, we pretty well look after all the services to our people of the Cowichan Band.
Now I just want to get into some of the areas which present problems today. It will not take very long, but I think it is a concern since we are talking about Indian self-government which, certainly, does not exist today.
First; we believe that basic changes should occur in the relationship between the Indian people and the people and Government of Canada. Second; we believe that significant changes can occur now, and that chance need not be tied to the passage of, nor will it necessarily occur within, a new Indian Act by Parliament, or the re-organization of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with even a redistribution of its administrative tasks. Meaningful change can only start with the formal recognition and acknowledgement by your government and our people that the present Indian Act, and the administrative practices of the Indian Affairs department, are steeped in a tradition and history that Indian people are wards of the Crown . . . that is, a people with
limited legal capacity; in other words, perpetual minors for whom someone has to be responsible and for whom someone has to make decisions.
The first requirement of change is a clear statement by Canada that Indian people are full citizens of Canada, entitled to enjoy all the rights granted to Canadian citizens and that, in addition, they have certain other rights with respect to their lands and to other obligations and commitments made to Indian people by the Government of Canada from time to time.
For example, there are many sections of the present Indian Act which state or imply that powers or rights granted to bands and its members are not final until they are approved by the minister. But a right must be exercisable as a right, and departmental approval must be limited as to form. As an example of a possible denial of right, there is the belief, in some cases practised by employees of the farm and land section, that a member of a band cannot obtain a lease of land from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development under Section 58.(3) of the Indian Act, notwithstanding that such a lease would be available to any other Canadian citizen. This denial is not based on any part of the Indian Act, but relates to an old idea that an Indian with legal capacity should not be able to obtain perpetuity interest in reserve lands. This practice or belief has never been reconciled with changes in our legal status brought on by the right to vote.
A further example can be found in Indian timber regulations, wherein a non-Indian can obtain a licence to cut timber, but an Indian can obtain only a permit. The distinction is that the licence carries a propriety interest in land and is assignable, enforceable, whereas a permit holds a lesser interest and is not assignable. Aside from the basic injustice, it means that a non-Indian logger can, by the assignment of his licence, borrow money for financing his venture, where the Indian permittee is left to his own resources.
The other thing I would like to touch on is social services. We have an operating fund of over $1 million just on social services which is just one fifth of our budget, and there does not seem to be any policy, any idea about it or planning as to how to reduce that dependence on social services. In Cowichan we would like to see some kind of a plan or organization established to reduce dependence on social welfare.
The other subject I would like to talk on is specifically in the area of child welfare, and we think the federal government should enter into a financial arrangement with the province whereunder the federal government would be responsible for child welfare programs. Any bands which want to take over child welfare responsibilities could negotiate that program takeover within a specific timeframe allowing for planning and policy-making, and the education and training of people who would be employed to take over these responsibilities.
Next, I would just like to touch on economic development. Currently there is very little impact on the Indian community, or very little benefit being enjoyed by it, under the existing and past economic strategies of the department. The situation of a deteriorating economic base, or the total lack of same, is getting worse or is at an all-time low, and is creating a welfare state. The only means of reversing this dilemma is objectively to invest in the reinforcement or establishment of an economic base for each community. The current manner of the making available of economic dollars is inconsistent and sporadic, and that prohibits any sound planning.
In 1982-1983, economic development dollars represented only 1% of the welfare cost, which does not make any measurable difference to the welfare recipient. In order for this cost to be reduced, there is a need to develop a formula which realistically and objectively would reduce the social assistance costs.
For example, if there were a welfare budget of $1.5 million, then a percentage of, say, 10% would available each year to effectively reduce the welfare rolls to at least the national average. Each community, then, to a large degree, becomes financially stable and productive, and in turn, contributes to Canada’s Gross National Product rather than being the deficit. This cannot happen until Canada invests in its native population, which can and will be of benefit not only to our people, creating spinoffs that would be far-reaching.
The other part I would like to touch on is the housing. The subsidy provided by the Department of Indian Affairs should be increased to meet the high cost of materials, supplies, etc. —$18,000 cannot possibly build a house—or advanced bands should be permitted to increase the subsidy. These bands do already priorize the funds to whatever projects they see fit, but are tied down to a subsidy of $1 8,000.
In the CMHC program in the past, bands have been advised to meet their housing shortages by going through a CMHC program. Now that this has happened, the policy has changed. Bands must now have the backing of an established, approved lending company; yet, it is impossible for an Indian to borrow money from, say, a bank for housing purposes.
These are some of the concerns we have as the Cowichan Band and as part of South Island. So, Mr. Chairman, that is our presentation.
I would just like to conclude by saying this presentation is not in its entire form. We would like to present to the special committee a comprehensive brief, which will follow this submission.
The Chairman: That would be quite acceptable. We would be pleased to receive that.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, that concludes our witnesses to the committee. You can see the dilemma we are in since the last time we met. Although you have made attempts to influence the Parliament of Canada, your interception has not been that successful. It is not to put the blame necessarily on you; but it is to make it known to you that, in spite of our efforts to make it known to the government and its bureaucracy, very little has changed in the last year. It is our hope, through our discussion this morning, Mr. Chairman, we can assist you in clarifying and further pursuing some of the goals we would like to achieve in the next short while.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes our witnesses.
The Chairman: Chief, I want to thank you very much for your comments and for the submissions we have received this morning. I gather you are prepared to enter into some exchange with us now.
Chief Simpson: If there are questions from the members of the committee, we are prepared to do that now.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
In your comments and within the submissions, I noticed a number of criticisms and suspicions about the work of this special committee. I would just say to you that, several weeks ago when we began our work and when those criticisms and suspicions were expressed, I tended to be very defensive. I am not now. I am not defensive any more, because it is becoming more and more apparent to me, as we proceed with our work, just how wide the gap is between government policy, government understanding and the reality of life among Indian people in this country. It is an extremely wide gap.
In the Parliament of Canada, there is not only very little understanding about Indian issues, Indian problems and Indian concerns; there is very little interest. There is very little interest.
Among the constituents we represent, by and large, most of us are finding a very negative attitude to what we are doing. I think everyone on this committee is becoming alarmed by the amount of ill will that exists in this country, the lack of understanding and confidence that exists between Indian people and the government and Indian people and other Canadians.
This special committee began, I think, in a mood of quite a high degree of optimism. I think that optimism has all dissipated now. I do not think you will find any starry-eyed idealists around the table, if we ever were. I think our feet are pretty firmly planted on the ground, and I think we live under the cloud that what we are attempting may be nothing more than an exercise in futility. We may be doomed to failure.
At the beginning, I said I was no longer defensive. I would only say there is a determination on the part of the members of this special committee to do whatever they can to try to begin a bridge-building exercise, which is long overdue in this country. I could not have a more determined group of people
to help me than this all-party committee, along with representatives from the Indian community, the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Council of Canada.
I think there is a very deep determination to try and do something that, on the one hand, is responsive to what we have heard, and on the other hand, is realistic, so that which we propose to our colleagues in Parliament and to the government, who occupy the centre front benches, will be realistic and acceptable, so we can move forward.
So any criticisms, suspicions or concerns you have, I think, are well placed. After all, why should you have confidence in us? There is no reason you should at all.
But despite all that, it is our determination to carry on to the end. In one way or another, we are going to report to Parliament; and we believe, if we can stay together, if we can improve our ability to listen, then we may be able to make a step forward.
I do not for a moment believe, when we report next September, we are going to solve every problem. I met a senior official of the Department of Indian Affairs coming out of one of the Parliament buildings, and we paused to talk for a moment. He shook his head and said: Do you people think you are going to be able to do anything? He said: I have been working at it for years and I see no hope. He said: What makes you think you will be able to do something?
Well, in the first place, the people who sit around this table are not officials. We are politicians. I look around the world and I know, frequently, the politicians are the people who cause problems, very often. But when it comes time to resolve something, I also know politicians are the ones who are able to take steps that resolve them.
So that is the role we are cast in. I think you are very realistic about us; I think we have become very realistic about ourselves. I just want to thank you for all the concerns you have, thank you for all the work you have done in preparing these documents, for taking time to appear before us today and also for being willing to enter into some discussion and exchange of ideas with us.
Having said that, I am now going to ask some of the other members to participate. I will begin first with Frank Oberle, Member of Parliament from British Columbia, who will ask some questions and make some comments.
Mr. Oberle: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I just simply join in the remarks you have made. As we travel throughout the country it is quite obvious that we are not held in great esteem. We are not here to participate in a popularity contest, and you will find my questioning and my comments to be as challenging as yours were.
I have been at this business for the last 10 years and I do not suffer the daily punishment of the system under which you live, but I suffer with you the frustrations you express everywhere and which are expressed in your briefs and in your comments this morning. Being here this morning does not make me any political friends in Ottawa, nor does it get me any votes in Prince George or in the Peace River country. But I am concerned for my people, those who are of the aboriginal ancestry, and for Indian people generally in the country, or else I would not be here. That goes for all of my colleagues from all parties here this morning. We are sort of a unique group; we are kind of nuts, really, to do what we are doing. Nevertheless, we share your frustrations, so your criticisms of the system we have learned to accept and cope with.
You know, it really would not matter what we suggested to Parliament, as you rightly say. It really would not matter what action the Parliament of Canada takes in response to our recommendations, and frankly it would not even matter what the government does in response to recommendations from Parliament. What really matters, and what must precede any action in Ottawa, is a change in the attitude of the average Canadian who does not understand the problems we are talking about here this morning and which we have been exposed to and will be exposed to for all this year. So I think I want to add to the chairman’s remarks by saying that the report we are writing will be written to Parliament and the government, but it will be written so that the average Canadian can understand just what utter shame we bear as Canadians for allowing a situation such as you explained to us this morning to continue to exist.
Having said all that, I am going to be as challenging and as frank and open with you as you were with us. I will tell you why these attitudes are like they aretand why governments have not been able to act as much as they would have liked to. One of the reasons is that there are some inherent contradictions in what Indian people want. They have nothing to do with the Indian Act or with the Indian Affairs bureaucracy. We know that you are in competition for survival with the Indian Affairs bureaucracy, and I want to say that before I ask some questions. I want you to know that we, and I mean the people around this table, are on your side when it comes to fighting for survival against the bureaucracy with their indexed pensions. We want to get rid of them. We want to get them off your back, if we can help you do that. So let us put our minds together, as the Mohawk chief has said, and see what life we can build for our children, for your children.
Some of the contradictions we see are particularly in the area of the trust responsibility which you see the Crown, the minister, the government, have on your behalf. The trust, when it was established, clearly meant a supervision over people who were incompetent, who were handicapped, who could not look after their own affairs. That is why the trust was established in the first place. There is no question about it and we might as well talk about that openly. It had nothing to do with anything else, you were Just simply not considered to be competent
enough to look after your own affairs and the affairs of your children.
Trust therefore means paternalism. We had to build a paternal structure to organize your affairs and to act in your best interests. Naturally, paternalism means dependency, so we had to make you totally dependent on this system that was built and which we are now trying to tear down. But this is what is in place, and the average Canadian, frankly, still believes that you are incompetent, that you are somehow handicapped. We understand each other; let us be frank: how can we together dispel this myth and show Canadians that you are not?
Before I get to my question, I am particularly intested in a remark by Chief Recalma this morning where he asked what would happen to all these people if we were allowed to freedom to make our own decisions, reap the benefits of our labour or suffer the results of mistakes. To put it simply, if we were allowed to be responsible and/or accountable for our own actions, we would take responsibility for the hundreds of people who depend on us for a living.
The question is—and this is where the contradiction always comes in—do you see the establishment of Indian self-government, and the assumption of the responsibility and the control that goes with it, as a goal? Most people who look at this question seriously will argue that you cannot have one without the other. If you want total control over your affairs, and the right to self-government, full jurisdiction over your culture and your economy, then you cannot have this trust relationship. There is a certain responsibility that goes with it. Frankly, most of the Indian people we meet throughout the country are saying, yes, we want self-government; yes, we want economic independence and we want cultural independence, but we are not prepared to relieve the federal government of its trust responsibility. In other words, if we make any mistakes, the minister is going to be responsible. That argument is just simply hard to sell to the average Canadian.
Maybe I could ask Chief Recalma that question: Once you have achieved total control over all your affairs in your own band, are you prepared to relieve the minister in Ottawa and the federal government of its trust responsibility?
Chief Recalma: The negotiations that have to take place, and with total control over our resources, the . . . Could I come back to this question later, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Oberle: Does someone else wish to answer?
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, I think what we are trying to say to you, and what we have been saying all morning, is that we have the right to co-exist. We are looking for a relationship whereby we can co-exist together. At this point in time there is no mechanism in place so that we can co-exist.
If the Government of Canada were serious about its trust responsibilities, not only to Indian people but the general population, if the Government of Canada wanted to do that, it could do so. But it chooses to hold onto its own paternalistic
political attitude, if I could put it that way, because that is really what it is.
It is a political attitude in which you do not want to let go. It is the government that does not want to let go.
Mr. Oberle: Well, let us break the trust now.
Chief Sampson: We recommend, Mr. Chairman, if I may conclude, because he asked a question and I was going to answer it . . .
Mr. Oberle: I am sorry.
Chief Sampson: If the government was serious about cutting its ties on trust responsibility, then first of all it must give back the land that it took from the people. It took the land without our consent, from eastern Canada right to the shores of our beaches here in British Columbia. When you have paid that debt, when you have made some arrangement with us, then the trust responsibility—according to our interpretation, not yours . . . then we can say the government can deny it. We will sever that trust responsibility, but not before you settle the land issue and the resources which have been taken from us.
What the government has done to us since its inception is take all of the resources and then make us beg for them back. We understand that. I hope you understand it. If you give the land back to us, if we Find a mechanism by which we can share the resources—that is why we use the word “co-exist”. . . Do not put the onus on us, saying: Okay, we will cut off all of your funding and see if you can survive. Indian Affairs has been doing that for a long time. We have already experienced that, and we do not want the Government of Canada to all of a sudden say: Okay, now we will let you have all the responsibilities you want; we have no more trust, but with that we will take the money and the resources.
We are already in that situation. We are already there. What we are saying to you is that we are trying to rectify those injustices, that misunderstanding that exists between us. So we say to you: Why can we not co-exist? What is wrong with that?
It is easy to say to me: Okay, Chief, go your own way now; we will give you your freedom. An hour of freedom to do what—to beg some more? Because that is what you are saying.
Until the Government of Canada has settled the issue in regard to land, the resources which were rightfully ours, then the trust responsibility—at least, according to our interpretation, not yours—in my sense does not make us beggars or does not tie us to your apron strings. That is far from what we are saying.
In 1763 when the Royal Proclamation was signed it was signed in very concise, specific wording that before the Indian people surrendered any more land or any other titles that they
might have to the land it would have to be negotiated or they would have to be consulted. That has never happened.
So until we deal with the trust responsibility the way we see it, according to our understanding—because it is written in your language, not in mine—the Indians must never be misunderstood in terms of surrender of land or of its resources. It has always been clear because it is written in your language, not in mine. That is what we are saying to you.
Mr. Chairman, I think it is easy to shut off this thing and say: Okay, fine, Indians, you are on your own; we give you your freedom. I guess that seems to be what we are asking for. We are not asking for our freedom. We have always had freedom. What we are saying is we want to now put in place what is rightfully ours. We are not asking for freedom that we already have, not are we asking for self-government which we already have.
Chief Recalma: Mr. Chairman, I would like to expand on that just a little. In this we talked about how we have to have an economic base and through that-—before the last part there—this is what happens. We are talking about something abstract until this other process happens. This relationship is an abstract thing when we depend on the government for our economy as we do today. If we had back our resources, had that process started, then this trust relationship could be spoken about.
We talk about relationships. Possibly what we have to do is formally investigate the relationship with you elected people and the bureaucrats in place, that kind of relationship. Possibly we have to have a better understanding of that before we further ourselves in these kinds of discussions—and the policy-making which controls the policies which control our destiny, that relationship, before we talk about something like this. Thank you.
Mr. Oberle: It is not quite true that everything was said and done in 1763. Treaties have been signed and negotiations have taken place. It is true that in British Columbia we have a rather unique situation; but in almost all the rest of Canada, except, of course, the territories, negotiations did take place. Treaties were signed, and in some cases Indian people enjoyed the land that was put in trust and the resources that were put in trust for them.
But, as you say throughout your briefs, that land and these resources are really of no use to you because you cannot borrow money on them because they are really owned and held in trust for you by the minister; and even if he gave you land here, all of Vancouver Island would not be any good to you if the minister in Ottawa told you that you cannot do anything with this land, you cannot cut the trees, you cannot take it to the bank and mortgage it, because if you do I am in default of my trust responsibility to your children. It is my responsibility.
We have just recently discussed an internal document by the Department of Justice in Ottawa, who warned the minister that even in the programs and the initiatives he is taking, little as they are and ill-conceived as they are, he is already in
breach of his trust because when he pays out of a minor’s trust account to the parents $250 or $300 a month that child can sue him when he or she becomes 21 years of age for paying out some of his money or if has not earned enough interest. This is the crucial question.
It is true that you are worried about your land and resource base here, but in some areas of Canada—and of course we have to put it all in focus. . . people have their land and yet they cannot use it to their advantage because the minister and/or his agents decide what you can and cannot do with your land.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, we have no problem with that. What you are saying is true. The minister has powers, but the minister does not really have the powers that you are talking about. I would like to read something to you. It comes from the regional office from Mr. Walkley:
The purpose of this memorandum is just to outline such a structure as is believed those more familiar with structures. Organizations and budgets in Ottawa are in a better position to determine what kind of structures, mechanisms or institutions ought to be established to meet the general need.
Now, this is the kind of thing we are talking about. This is the trust responsibility which the department has assumed that it has over us. It is a one-sided interpretation—it is not ours . . . just as you interpreted earlier.
Until this bureaucracy and the structures and mechanisms as seen by the department are moved out of way, out of place. . . because it does not only affect the administration of Indian Affairs, but it affects the resources, the timber, the fishing industry… Almost every type of dollar that crosses hands in Ottawa affects us here in British Columbia, affects our communities and our villages. That is what we are talking about. Until a mechanism is in place. . .
I think when we presented our paper to you last year we spoke specifically about mechanisms, and nothing has changed. In fact, the bureaucracy has gotten worse. We cannot even build a house today unless it is approved by the local construction fellow in Indian Affairs. That is how much more difficult it got since I met you last year.
Mr. Oberle: One final question, Mr. Chairman. We have to come to grips with the idea of self-government because we want to, obviously, write something about that in the report and make some recommendations.
You spoke this morning, Chief Sampson, and introduced the word “co-existence”. Naturally we would like to know, we have to know, from you—and that is crucially important to us—what kind of structure the white man’s institutions would be asked to co-exist with. In other words, you do not see any integration of your structure with that of the white mans institutions. You see a separate level of government. Has any thought been given to the structure? It is quite obvious to all of
us now that the basic form, the basic structure of Indian government, will be the band government. is it envisaged to confer powers upwards to the tribal councils? In that connection, are your tribal councils here political institutions or are they just simply administrative framework, and are you prepared to give the tribal councils political powers? Are you prepared to confer power even further, to, say, the Assembly of First Nations, in some kind of a structure that could be integrated into the confederacy? Has any thought been given to that?
Mr. Phillip Paul (Administrator, First Nations of South Island Tribal Council): Yes, I would like to make some comment on that, because I think it keeps coming up, and it has come up for some time since we have been talking about self-determination. I think it is an unfair question.
We were talking about it last night, and I was saying to the group that we were sitting down with, history is repeating itself, because in 1969 or i968, I believe it was, they sent out a whole round of consultation meetings with a view to changing the Indian Act, and what did we get? We got the 1969 white paper thrown at us. You remember that. And now we have this committee going around, and it moved from a subcommittee to a special committee, and now we hear in the wind that they are talking about an Indian government bill. It is almost the same kind of thing.
I think it is time that we sat down, and if the government is serious about looking at some of the suggestions Indian people have been making—and heaven only knows stacks and stacks of things have been said about all these things, and never any agreement—why cannot there be something of real significance set up by the government where they agree to certain principles, so we can sit down and discuss some of these things in a realistic fashion? I do not believe a special committee, no matter how special it is, that is going around the country asking these questions, and our spending any time deliberating it—because it is not going to go anywhere anyway. It has not in the past; and what is there in the government that has given us to believe that it is going to change?
When you throw these things out that need a lot of work and a lot of discussion, they need money to be developed, I do not think it is even a fair question to ask what kind of mechanism. Are we really serious about what your question is, or is it just your question that you have on the top of your head, or is it a serious question that has come down from government that we are going to look at a new mechanism? Are we going to look at changing the trust relationship? I do not think they have any idea of changing the trust relationship, and I do not think they are serious about asking us about coming up with a new kind of mechanism.
I think the discussion is really leading—regardless of what we say, we are still going to end up in the hands of the provincial government. without any solutions to the problems that we have developed, historically. I think if your question is serious, there are many people who would like to debate it and add things to it and come up with the kind of mechanisms that will work. Most certainly, outside of the kind of government bureaucracy that we work in, there are things that work within
the Indian culture and the Indian community right across Canada. There are different kinds of structures that are working for Indian people to keep their culture alive over the years, and most certainly these kinds of structures could be tied into so they do not divide the communities or the family. I think these are no secret in terms of what can be set up.
That is the way I feel about it. If these questions are really serious, why is there not some kind of commission that has real authority so that we can sit down and discuss principles that the government really agrees on, that they are going to come to some decision on? Are we really going to change the trust relationship? Are we really going to look at a mechanism of relating to Canada on a co-existing basis? Or is it just something such that we air our feelings, annually, our frustrations, and then the government gets on with whatever it has to do in terms of terminating us? This is the way I feel about these committees and commissions that have gone around thus far.
Mr. Oberle: There is a comment that needs to be made. I share your frustration, but surely if I shared your cynicism, we would all be wasting our time. This committee does have a mandate from Parliament. There has never been this kind of a forum. There never has been this kind of a special committee, involving native people as full representatives, to come to grips with these questions.
Again, I will be brutally frank with you. If that is the attitude toward the committee, it is going to be very difficult for us to make and recommend some changes. If you are saying it is just going to be an exercise in futility, we cannot afford ourselves the luxury to think that way or else, as I said earlier, we would be better off staying home.
The Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: I would like to thank Chief Sampson and other members for their presentations.
In a couple of the presentations reference was made to fishing, both to the traditional fishery and also to the commercial fishery. I would like to ask some questions about the importance of fishing and fishing rights in terms of the economic base. Perhaps I could direct some of these questions to Chief Alphonse, from the Cowichan Band.
You pointed out, Chief Alphonse, that the band, the largest in British Columbia, has some 1,800 members; that you have some 6,000 acres in the reserve. That means that there is barely more than 3 acres per person. Often on the prairies when we have visited Indian bands they have a much larger acreage per capita. Is there any particular reason why you have such a small number of acres for such a fairly large band?
Chief Alphonse: I would just like to respond to that. From what I have gathered, I think there was some kind of injustice in the acreages that were given to bands on the coast, because there is quite a difference between the prairies and the coast acreage-wise. I think that is something that has to looked at, because the acreage is so small that you cannot really have an independent or self-government that could utilize the resources from these acreages. I think that should be seriously looked at,
because I feel it is a small amount, compared with other bands across the country.
The other thing I would like to mention is about fishing in Cowichan. We are in the process of taking over management of the resource as it pertains to our people and to other users in the Cowichan valley. But it has been very difficult. We have had a good training program, but the government, in its wisdom, has said that we cannot find the dollars to put in place that management. That is something which has to be looked at, because we have been trying to find some money to put in personnel to look after the salmon resources.
In talking about aboriginal rights, the other thing in jeopardy right now is our hunting rights, because there is a regulation by the provincial government stating that all special permits are going to be terminated as of February 15, which is tomorrow. There is no consideration at all about aboriginal rights to hunting. These permits are given to anybody who comes to the officer’s establishment to get a special permit.
So I think the government has succeeded in ignoring aboriginal rights in hunting and fishing. I think that seriously has to be looked at, because there will be a lot of court cases and problems in B.C. because of the legislation that is coming down without even recognizing our original rights.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Chief Alphonse.
Chief Sampson, I wonder if you could comment. We have heard from the Cowichan Band that they have a very small acreage per capita. Would this be true of the other bands within your area?
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, I will let Mark Recalma speak first, and I will address your question afterwards.
The Chairman: Chief Recalma.
Chief Recalma: Thank you.
On the northwest coast of North America, these were the largest communities or groups of people without an agricultural base. We depended on the sea for our economy and trading. The fish and the use of that resource was our economy.
There was no need for us to have large large quantities of land in the past. We never farmed. We made our living from the ocean and the rivers. We traded these resources amongst each other. Each band had access to different things, and there was a trade system.
When the first people came around and set up these reserves… Roughly, there are 3 to 5 acres per capita in British Columbia on the reserves. In the Prairies, you are looking at 120 to 150 acres per capita. This particular reserve is about 1 acre per capita to date.
So that is why we stressed the need to be involved with the fishing. For example, social assistance and things like that were always less on British Columbia reserves, because we had the rivers and we had the saltwater resources too. It was up to the other members of the band to help the people in need.
There was no need in the past for huge tracts of land, when we had free access to utilization of our resources.
Mr. Manly: This was understood by the people who set out your reserves, then. You had that access to the ocean, to the water, and to the fishery; and it was on that basis you were given small reserves. Is that what you are saying?
Chief Recalma: Yes, that is what I am saying. Also, when the reserve I am from was first commissioned—l do not know the correct terminology involved here—it was handy for the white community to have Indians close by to provide fish and game to that white community. But over the years, through interpretation of laws by civil servants, this right has been denied us.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, just to answer Mr. Manly’s question—it has been partly answered, Jim.
I think the importance of our having access to all the resources… We had no problem when there were very few people in this country. If we look closely at our history—and Lord knows it has been repeated hundreds of times—the Indian people had everything in this land at one time. We did not have to beg for anything as we are being made to do today, Even the fact that we have to sit with you to explain further the situation we are in makes us just short of being beggars.
When the land was taken, when the land was starting to be occupied by the people . . . That is why I made reference to the royal proclamation of 1763 and other dates after that, including the treaties. It was really clear, when the government started to take over the land, there were conditions in which they must take the land; and that was to talk it over with the Indian people. Nowhere in our history have we ever said to the Government of Canada or to the Province of British Columbia: you can have our land, because we give it to you. We have never, ever said that to them.
What they have done is use it. They have not done anything other than use it and take all the resources. We cannot fish any more, even though we have a treaty.
My particular area, the very southern end of Vancouver Island, has treaties. Those treaties do not mean very much, because we constantly have fisheries and game wardens on our backs. They say we cannot break their laws; but yet, these agreements were written with the British government, when they first came here. It was the British government which came to this land. It was not Pierre Elliot Trudeau and previous other governments. It was the Government of Great Britain that came here and colonized this country.
It had certain conditions and agreements it had to follow, and it has not followed that pattern, As a result, the land has been taken; and the resources, whether it be timber or resources that come from the the sea, are depleted. Now we are asked to be the ones to suffer the most; yet, we have the least access to that resource.
We hunt the deer or the elk at will; and we are going to continue to do so, whether or not it is in conflict with the law. It is our aboriginal right to do so. When somebody says they
would like to negotiate with us about these rights we claim, then we will talk about it. But if that is not done, we will continue to practise those rights.
I think it is our obligation to do that, because if we do not do it, the governments will assume they have the right to do that. They do not have that right, because we have not given it up. We have not given it away to anybody.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
Getting back to Chief Alphonse, with the largest band in British Columbia, of 1,800 members, could you tell the committee how many of those members are commercial fishermen?
Chief Alphonse: I would just like to mention, at one time there used to be at least 10 or 12 commercial boats in Cowichan; but to date, there is not one. It has been depleted. Just until a couple of years ago, there was only one band member who was able to fish commercially.
So that kind of economy is lost. I think it is a shame we cannot utilize the resource of the salmon, but we have lost the commercial fishing.
Mr. Manly: So you have no involvement with the commercial fishery. Could you give some indication of how important the traditional Indian fishery is?
Chief Alphonse: As Tom has stated, we were the richest, with all the resources. We never did depend on social welfare until the late 1940s or the early 1950s, when it was introduced. But it is still part of our economy, as far as I am concerned. The salmon becomes supplementary to the social welfare cheque. It is the only way people can make ends meet, because of inflation and everything else.
We do have a hatchery on the reserve; and hopefully, we can replenish or restock the rivers. One of our objectives as a band is to try to bring back the number of salmon, because it is being depleted.
I would just like to mention we have a confrontation every year just over trying to catch the salmon for food.
Mr. Manly: Could you give the committee some idea as to what percentage of your people depend upon the traditional fishery for supplementing their food resources and their economy? Would this be 25% of the people, 50%, 75% or 100%? What would be a reasonable guess as to the number of people depending on that traditional fishery?
Chief Alphonse: I would say it is 100%, as far as I am concerned. Everybody trys to excercise the right of catching salmon.
I would just like to mention the economy in the Cowichan reserve is such that 60% to 70% are unemployed the majority of the year. It seems to be getting worse instead of better. More people are going on social assistance because they have run out of their UI, and it is not getting any better. That is one of the reasons we feel any economic development has to be geared to trying to reduce that dependence on social welfare,
Mr. Manly: If there were jobs available so that people who needed Jobs had them, would your people still want to have that traditional fishing as part of their economy? Would that still be important?
Chief Alphonse: I think it is, yes. I think there is no way out of it. We are not prepared to give it up.
I think that is part of the problem today. We are trying to exercise our right, and all these regulations are going against that right. I think that has to be recognized by both the federal and provincial governments. That is the reason we are trying to manage it ourselves, the best way we can.
Mr. Manly: I understand that in addition to simply being used to put food on an individual family table, the traditional fishery also has a great deal of cultural importance and importance for cultural events. Could you say something about that and the way in which you have had difficulty with fisheries department people not understanding that?
Chief Alphonse: I would like to state that the culture and Indian tradition is fairly strong on the coast because we still practise the spirit dance in the longhouse. A lot of traditional foods are used in these, as well as spiritual traditions. I think that is part of the problem of today’s white society, that they do not understand what our beliefs are as Indian people. Until such time as they can understand, I think there will always be problems in our practising our traditions, as it will sometimes break or oppose the regulations that are imposed on us.
Mr. Manly: Could you indicate what you think needs to be done to give an adequate economic base, so that we can move away from the welfare dependency that you feel is so negative for the people?
Chief Alphonse: I think the only way we have been able to provide jobs is through our own programs on the reserve. I have noticed, even though we have a big shopping centre in the City of Duncan, there are very few Indian people working in the banks or grocery stores. Hardly any Cowichan Band members work there. I think the biggest employer is the band itself, through our own programs. It seems as if the only way that we will ever find an economic base is to develop programs or industry on the reserve itself, through the band council.
Mr. Manly: Can you make some suggestions as to what some of those programs or industries might be?
Chief Alphonse: We are into housing ourselves and we are still trying to catch up on our housing needs. We have gone into an apprenticeship program to have qualified carpenters on the reserve, and that is one area. These carpenters are becoming independent, or like a company within the reserve. The other is, of course, the hatchery, which we have been operating for the past five years.
I think we have to try to find ways of developing some of the industry that is already there, such as the sweater industry and
arts and crafts. I think most of the people who make money on it are the middlemen. Our people receive small amounts for their product, so that needs to be organized. But I think it is up to individual bands to try to create their economy, and I think everybody is different.
In Cowichan we are right next to the City of Duncan, and other bands are isolated. I think a very diverse economy has to be established.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
I would like to get back to Chief Alphonse. . .
The Chairman: Final question, Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Right.
On page 6 of your submission, you talk about the cutback and off-reserve education, and we heard more details of that from Philomena Alphonse. It is interesting that when I asked the minister about this he still was not sure what the exact legal reason for cutting back the off-reserve education was. Then you went on to say that the department played politics with the different hands over funding and that this creates animosity. Could you give examples of this and suggest what you think needs to be put in place. . . this playing politics?
Chief Sampson: I suppose, Mr. Chairman, in answer to Jim Manly’s question, it started a few years ago when the bands first got involved in the allocation of funding. We allocated our own funding according to need on the reserves, and when we were capable of doing this the department started to point out very clearly to other bands that perhaps they needed more money than the committee was able to allocate and therefore created—a term they use now, and they use it quite freely, is “independent bands”
Independent bands are bands, at least the way the department terms them, that can deal directly with the Department of Indian Affairs rather than with the tribal council or a grouping of bands in our district. Therefore the department immediately isolates funds for those particular bands, for whatever their need. Basically, it is just strictly on a per capita . . . The way the department—at least the way they said it to me is that it allows these independent bands to negotiate any funds over and above what is being put before the tribal council. I see no problem with that. There is nothing wrong with that. But the fact is, they divided us into two parts. Really, that is not a desirable thing because, in my opinion, that is political meddling.
I have no problems with bands that do that; that is not my problem. I did not create the problem, the department did. So that is something I can live with. But I think when it comes down to getting bands to do certain things, the department will assist some and will not assist others. This is where this animosity, the differences between our own tribal groupings— where the tension rises. The department, for example, will hold certain funds back for certain treaty programs that they want
to do and release some of the funds to us to do what we would like to do.
We have this division between the tribal council and the Department of Indian Affairs, whereby they establish what they see as necessary for trading, especially in the social services section, meaning the social welfare program, where they insist on training people. I have no problem with that either.
But then there are bands which do not wish to take part in the training program, where the two programs are integrated with the provincial system. This means that we train people to assist the government, both federal and provincial, in implementing federal and provincial laws. A lot of times those laws, especially provincial, are in conflict with our communities. Therefore you create this division and differences between tribes, or between bands, and that causes a lot of friction. As I say, we have not objected to the department’s doing this. We have allowed them to do this because that is part of their political nature, I guess.
But just to get back to the question you asked Dennis earlier, as far as the economies of our reserve go, if we had been allowed to practice our traditional economic methods of survival, we would still be doing fairly well today. But because the government, especially the federal, and now the province, in terms of foreshore leasing, have taken these powers away from us, or they have assumed these powers, they take up a lot of our traditional way of survival.
For example, in the fishing industry there was no such word for us as “commercial”. That word, “commercial”was introduced by the European people. We did not have that word. The same with the shellfish; all types of shellfish. We used shellfish to exchange for other food or goods from other tribes. That was our bartering system. That has been outlawed. Even in the regulations it says, especially in the hunting regulations of the provincial government, Indians shall not hunt for food or to trade. We cannot even barter.
But hunting and fishing is not just for sustenance; or at least that is what the government uses—the word “sustenance” Hunting and fishing are two things to us, or three things. First of all, they are a spiritual thing. We believe in all the creatures. Secondly, they are conservation. Thirdly, if it becomes necessary, we use them for economic or bartering privileges. That is how we have always used our economy. But when the European came along with these regulations, he immediately wiped out the first one, which is our spiritual belief in all the animals, whether they be from the forest or the sea. They did away with that one first.
I will give you an example in hunting, in the new regulation that is being imposed as of tomorrow. The deer or the elk as we use it is not just for food. We use every part of that animal. We use his skin. We use his hoofs, we use the antlers; we use
every piece of him. None of it goes to waste. So when the government passes a law and says you cannot eat this food any more, it is not just the food it is cutting off; it is our spiritual way of life. It is actually saying you cannot practice it any more.
So when these laws are being put in place on behalf of the government and affecting us, the Indian people, they are not only destroying our food balance or our food chain, they are affecting our cultural and religious way of life. The government does not seem to realize that. They say there are not enough deer up in the mountains. Well, that is not our fault. All you have to do is go up and look at the mountains, and those mountains are as bald as a cue-ball, because there are no trees there to hold the land together any more. The rivers are polluted with mud sliding into the river, and the results end up in all of our streams, where the salmon are. And they ask us to regulate ourselves according to their mistakes. We cannot do that.
So when you look at the traditional economy, which you touched on with Dennis, that is what we are talking about. It is the traditional economics of our people. If we were able to maintain those economics and to practice them as before, it would be of great assistance to the present governments that exist, meaning the federal and provincial.
That is just to answer the question you raised earlier about the economics of the Indian people. Traditional economics have always been in the forefront in our mind, but the way economics are being practiced today, they are ruining everything. I am sure I do not have to explain to the members at this table the damage done to all the resources, not only the salmon but every piece of animal that lives in the forest, whether it be the grouse or whatever. They are all affected by the ruination of the logging industry, mining, you name it. That is all part of what it is destroying, the natural balance of this country.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
The Chairman: Ms Jamieson.
Ms Roberta Jamieson (Ex Officio Member (Assembly of First Nations)): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I would like to commend the tribal council and chiefs who are before us today for preparing yet another brief and coming before yet another committee. I understand their frustration, and I am pleased that they have set it out for us. I think, however, their eternal optimism and patience should be commended, because otherwise we would not be sitting in Nanoose and they would not have taken the time to come before this committee.
The criticism I hear from the chiefs is not that the committee does not listen. It is that despite the fact that the committee may listen, it really does not make any difference what the committee has said. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and the policies march on. I accept what was said this morning as a challenge for this committee to evaluate our own effectiveness and to find ways to create change to accommodate Indian government at least in some measure. I think since the new Constitution, however slight its recognition might be
of aboriginal and treaty rights, puts Indian people in a fundamentally different position in this country, and I think that is something this committee can use and build on. So I am speaking partially to the other members of the committee and saying we have been challenged and I think we have some new tools to use.
One of the things I wanted to ask Chief Sampson is, in your brief you outline that we must begin to respect the right of the first nations to determine their own structures of government, their own forms of government which are accountable to Indian people and which have direction from Indian people. You also said in your declaration of sovereignty that you have the right to determine the degree of sovereignty you wish to exercise. You go on to ask this committee to say something before the 37(2) conference, or at the 37(2) conference, I am not sure which.
I would like you, if you will, to elaborate on what you think is the most constructive, positive thing this committee could say, from your point of view, on Indian government before or at that conference.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, it has always been clear, not only in this time, but from past generations, that the right to self-determination, the right to self-government, has always been in place. It is just that the new governments that have come to this country have pushed it aside. We state very clearly in our submission, as an example, how our potlatches, or our gatherings, were outlawed; how we were not allowed to organize until, I believe, as late as 1951. We have had to suffer that kind of dilemma. Our people for many years had to go underground to keep some of the ceremonies and some of the traditional forms of government we had; had to go into hiding just to survive this time.
As far as how we would like to see things, I think we again make it clear in our declaration that we will carry out our own forms of government, and I believe we said at the outset that we are willing to coexist with each other. If those kind of relationships, with that kind of mechanism, could be put in place, so that there is an understanding between ourselves and the federal government—not the province, but the federal government, because it is with the federal government, under Section 91(24) of the British North America Act, that that responsibility, that trust, between the two of us, still exists. We do not believe the province has any say in the matter at this time as far as the Constitution is concerned, because we have no agreements with the province. The province, as far as we are concerned, are only administrators of the resources of this province called British Columbia. They have no other authority. If there is going to be any justice done to us at the conference, that is what must be understood.
The degree of sovereignty really means coexistence. That is what we mean by “degree of sovereignty”
Every sovereign nation has the right to decide how and on which level it wishes to exercise its sovereignty. So when we talk about degrees of sovereignty, we talk about the possibility of us coexisting as sovereign nations. That is how we see it.
Ms Jamieson: And what you are saying, Chief Sampson, is that you would like this committee to say something about that.
Chief Sampson: It is important that this committee not hold its remarks just because it is a subcommittee or a special committee. I think it is important that this committee state very clearly what we are saying and what its recommendations should be, because if you hold this information, it will end up in the archives like all our other submissions and very little or no heed will be paid to it.
I appreciate the work this committee has done since we last met. I think it is important that you did take some action and made this round possible again. But what we are saying now is that if this committee is serious about its work, serious about its consultation or discussions with us, it should forward something to the government immediately to alleviate some of the stress and turmoil that exists in our villages. It is political stress, political strain, through funding, through present legislation that interferes with our lives at the reserve level today, and I think this committee could very well ease up some of the tensions and some of the strains that are put on the reserve today if it acted immediately on some of the issues and concerns that we are expressing today.
Ms Jamieson: Are some of those areas not recommending, for instance, that tribal councils deal directly with Treasury Board, or deal directly with the federal government, for multi-year transfer payments? Can we move ahead on that in terms that would respect the coexistence you are talking about? Can we move with that now, or must that wait? Many Indian witnesses have put that before us.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, to answer to Roberta’s question, I think there are mechanisms in place already for transfer payments through the band council resolutions or agreements made by the various tribal councils or hands. I think those vehicles are already in place. It is just that the government or the Department of Indian Affairs, through its bureaucracy, has suppressed all possibilities of us ever gaining the proper vehicles with which to service our reserves.
For example, in the servicing and the transferring of funds, they have made it very tough for us this coming fiscal year to transfer funds to tribal councils. They say that we must incorporate, and to incorporate means to come under some provincial law or statute, which we do not want to do because the provincial governments will interfere regarding the types of meetings we will have, and we would have to report to them on finances, which is really none of their business, because funding comes from the federal government, not from the provinces. So when we are asked to incorporate, even if it is under federal or provincial registration, it would still affect the
types of government that we would like to see both at the district level and the band level.
Ms Jamieson: What role does the federal government play now with the Province of British Columbia! Do they advocate on your behalf? Do they protect your interests? What are they doing.
Chief Sampson: The federal government has done absolutely nothing, as far as we are concerned, in protecting any of the rights. For example, in the hunting and in the fisheries they have turned much of the responsibility, I believe, over to the provincial government without any consultation, especially in the hunting area, where they have said that regarding laws or agreements in terms of treaty, provincial law supersedes all treaty agreements. Well, when we signed those treaties, if they were signed, it was our understanding that provincial law did not supersede those agreements. In terms of the fishery, they are in agreement, especially on the lakes and the rivers, that where the British Columbia wildlife act comes into effect it allows fish wardens to invade reserves at any time they choose. So the department has not helped us in that sense.
Ms Jamieson: This is one of the areas that has personally always troubled me, Chief Sampson, and that is, how do you ever force the federal government to live up to its obligations to Indian people?
In the Declaration of Rights and Principles it calls for the establishment of an aboriginal rights and treaty protection office. To date there has been a miserable record by the federal government and by the Department of Indian Affairs in carrying out its obligations, in respecting aboriginal rights, in dealing with provinces or municipalities that attempt to interfere with the rights of Indian nations. What do you think of that idea? What do you think this mechanism, this aboriginal treaty rights protection office, should look like? Some people have said it should have international stature. We have got a number of ideas. Can you share your ideas with us?
Chief Sampson: This idea of a protectorate office for Indian rights and some of our principles was put there because we cannot trust the federal government in what it is doing. Every time we turn around and we want to do something on our own, the federal government, through its bureaucracy—namely, the Department of Indian Affairs, or the Department of Fisheries, for that matter—always tells us that we cannot do that because it is against the regulations. Or if we say to them that some of our rights are being infringed upon, especially in terms of education, they say that is a political question; you cannot ask me that because I am a bureaucrat; I cannot do anything. So who do we deal with? When we deal with bureaucrats, they quickly run to the skirts of their bosses, who are the politicians and say, we cannot make a decision. If you believe so strongly in what you are saying, go to Ottawa and solve your problem there, because that is where the problem is. So we go to the politicians and they say, we cannot do that, because according to the manual we cannot do that. So we are caught between the bureaucrat and the politician.
We believe a protectorate office could probably sort out those things that are political and those things that are administrative, and they could be sorted out fairly quickly with Indian involvement. The protectorate office would deal with those things that have to be protected, and there would be a section that would deal with the administrative function of the department or of the Government of Canada that would allow us probably to develop the type of government at the reserve level that is desirable to everybody, other than band councils, because my experience in the last 20 years with band councils has not been exactly an exciting one because of government interpretation.
The protectorate office could look after those things that are of a political nature and probably sort out those that are administrative ones. I think through that kind of an office we could probably, possibly, coexist.
Ms Jamieson: Would you appoint Indian people to that office, or a joint office, or . . . ?
Chief Sampson: If we are going to coexist, if we are going to find a workable solution in Canada for the Indian people and the non-Indians who are here now, it would be necessary for both parties to agree to some kind of mechanism where we could discuss all those matters and issues which confront the bands today.
Ms Jamieson: So it would be a joint something.
Chief Sampson: In the initial stages it could be joint, to clear out some of those things that are administrative and some of those that are political. I think in the initial stages there has to be some in-depth consultation with each other in order to resolve the differences that we have.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
Chief Recalma, you laid out for us the issue of resource sharing, or the demand for resource sharing, with the Indian nations here in British Columbia.
You set out for us the fact that there were laws traditionally on resource conservation and that, I dare say, people will come back to those laws for their own survival. There is an international treaty being negotiated right now on fishing rights. Could you tell me what involvement Indian people have had in the negotiation of that treaty, if any?
Chief Recalma: There is no real negotiation involvement within the negotiation. What I question is how can the Canadian government, or its representatives, negotiate with another country something that they have never settled, some question that has not been settled properly? We are being ignored on that question. There were charges laid recently when 130 people on the Fraser River… The press was manipulated and used by the bureaucrats to discredit the Indian people who were carrying on with their livelihood. There has been no negotiation. There have been approaches to the courts, but the court system is very confining for us. We have a hard time to express ourselves in legal matters.
Ms Jamieson: What would be consistent with your view of Indian government for negotiation of a treaty like that? What involvement do you think you ought to have?
Chief Recalma: Before this treaty is even thought about, we should be negotiating with the federal government, with Canada, to define who has the right to manage that fishery. An agreement should be drawn up among the Indians to solve that or Canada has no business at all speaking with another country on this type of thing without so much as a referral to us.
Ms Jamieson: So you would see yourselves as being equal parties in the negotiation, first with the federal government and then, in some sense, with the U.S.
Chief Recalma: Yes.
Ms Jamieson: Has anybody approached you for any involvement at all?
Chief Recalma: No, we have not been approached at all— the only people that do not get a proper share of this particular run. The American Indians in Alaska fish … This is dealing with the charges in the Fraser River, this Fraser River run. I will be specific with this. This is just one part of the agreement. The American Indians in Alaska have historical rights to harvest this salmon, and do so when the salmon first come in from the ocean. The commercial fishermen of British Columbia fish this fish for a month or so on the way down the coast. Then the American Indians of Washington, through the recent Boldt decision, have the right to harvest this fish when it enters their waters.
And then it comes up to Canada. And the people who should have the right to manage that fish and to draw up these negotiations, because there was a relationship between the American Indians and the Canadian Indians in the past—their reef netting and such is historically there. . . what has happened is that we have been put on the defensive through regulations from bureaucracies, the use of the press. Laws have evolved from policy-making through pressure groups, the big canning companies, things like that, and we have to live with this. We are backed in a corner and we do not have access to the court, to that sort of thing. We have to settle first with the federal government and then with the other countries. We do not feel they have any right at all to be taking this approach.
Ms Jamieson: Have you made that view known to the federal government?
Chief Recalma: Yes.
Ms Jamieson: What is the reaction?
Chief Recalma: There has been no really firm reaction to it. They have said, we will let the politicians decide that. What Chief Sampson was saying… when you talk to bureaucrats, well, it is political; when you talk to politicians, it is policy.
Ms Jamieson: Yet at the same time we have a minister saying that he respects Indian self-government. This is what I find so difficult.
One other area I wanted to ask questions on is about the Department of Indian Affairs. We have had a number of witnesses come before the committee and advocate that we either get rid of the department or have a small, skeletal staff with a minister. Some have said that they do not need a minister and they do not need a department. I would like to ask your views, and maybe those of Phillip Paul, on this matter. I know you have some particular views on this matter. I know we do not have your brief, but I took a few notes and I know that you recommended that a genuine look be taken at Indian policies and that in doing this it ought to include the involvement of Indian leaders. But first you ask for an agreement on a set of principles. Could you walk us through that logical progression and apply it to the issue of the Department of Indian Affairs?
Mr. Paul: As I stated last night in our little discussion with the group, we get taken from one extreme to another. Because we have complaints about the bureaucracy of Indian Affairs, because of all the frustrations that happen at the regional and district level and even on the national scale, and because we have become so angry with Indian Affairs, the suggestion we often get is, well, let us do away with it. I think pretty nearly every Indian in Canada would agree that the Indian Affairs department has not been the best organized department in Canada.
And one of the other things I often question myself about is what is wrong with the Department of Indian Affairs? Well, I think when you examine it and look at it closely, a lot of the people who end up in Indian Affairs were initially people who were either out of the military or were ex-RCMP officers. As I indicated last night, because of the civil service commission being so powerful, you cannot fire a civil servant, and so those who become incompetent and unable to do their job, because they have to find some place for them, a good percentage of them end up in the Department of Indian Affairs. Well, it is no wonder that the department cannot work.
The thing that I suggest is that before we go from one extreme to another, when you take away something, you have to replace it. So to suggest to us on one hand that if we are not satisfied with the department we should throw it out is not really doing the question any justice.
I think we have to examine what it is we can really alter in terms of, first of all, what are the principles of the trust relationship. You know, I do not agree with Frank Oberle about the trust relationship. The trust relationship in terms of the way he described it is his interpretation or the government’s interpretation, but I think it means something different to Indian people. I think when you hear the submission that was made by South Island there are a lot of unsettled differences with the Canadian government in terms of land, in terms of governing ourselves, and I think these things have to be taken into consideration when we look at the trust relationship.
The whole situation has changed in terms of how we relate to the Government of Canada, but all of these terminologies seem to be from an archaic time that really do not fit the kind of things we are talking about today. Trust relationship, if you
developed it along the lines of the way this country has been developed—what we are talking about is the kind of relationship the provinces have with the federal government. And when you look at that you know most certainly that the Premier of British Columbia does not have to go running with a BCR to Trudeau every time he wants money. I think we have to look at those kinds of things and examine them in terms of what we see as the trust relationship in relation to the federal government.
I do not think it is a question of needing a lot more money in terms of Indian people in Canada. I think it is the manner in which we are spending it, the restrictions imposed on Indian people. We get our money quarterly. When you are talking about the kinds of things Indian leaders, Indian chiefs, have to deal with at the band level, to receive your money quarterly is to bleed the situation as far as finance to the bands is concerned. I think they have to deal with a lot of things which municipalities do not have to deal with. They have to deal with housing, with plumbing; they have to deal with all kinds of things that any other kinds of governments do not get involved in. They are so totally involved in the entire lives of their communities, yet the money comes to them on a quarterly basis. I think that is ridiculous. I think that could be changed without changing many of the mechanisms presently in place.
I think ifwe really want to be serious about getting rid of Indian Affairs, we have to examine all these kinds of things in detail.
Why is it that a country such as Canada, with 20 million people and all the resources, cannot deal with a small percentage of its population on a realistic basis? I do not think we need continually to examine the kinds of things we are examining. I think what we have to do is very elementary. When you have a band such as Cowichan, which has a million dollars in welfare, for you to ask them what you can do to help them . . . well, certainly they need jobs. All of the questions I have heard here and the things we repeatedly keep talking about—it seems like we should be able to sit down and deal with them. I mean, just because you do not agree with us in terms of what aboriginal rights and sovereignty are . . . I think we get all these things thrown at us.
We are talking about services. Just over this table since I have come in and been listening, we have been talking about services, we have been talking about constitutional things, and then we go back to a program again and now we are being asked about whether we should throw out Indian Affairs. First of all, the questions are all mixed up, and then we are talking about some very serious constitutional things, that there is not even enough money to sit down and examine in detail what is the real thing we can do.
If the government would agree on principles of what we should discuss, and if they are serious in coming to some resolution on some of these serious questions in terms of the constitutional relationship with Indian people in Canada, I think we should be able to come up with solutions. But as soon
as we suggest something, the government does not agree with it, so they start ignoring us and then the department takes off in another direction by instructions from behind the doors from the officials in Ottawa. Well, that is not fair ball.
I think we should set this thing to rest in terms of whether we should get rid of the Department of Indian Affairs or not. There are a lot of other questions that have to be answered before we even begin to talk about whether or not that department should be removed. In essence what they are saying is that we would like to throw out the Department of Indian Affairs and turn the Indian people over to the provinces, but without solutions. They tried that in 1969 and all they did was borrow it from the United States, as I indicated in my paper. It is not even a new idea. Not only is it not a new idea, but it is an idea that has proven it will not work. So let us quit talking about things that do not work and let us be serious about our relationship with how we administer affairs in Canada.
We are always going to be here; we have been here for a long time and I would suggest that we are going to be here for a lot longer. Let us stop talking about throwing out Indian Affairs without doing the kind of job that needs to be done before we even get to that question.
Ms Jamieson: The challenge this committee faces, it seems to me, is that we have to make two kinds of recommendations. This committee has to report by September, and we have to make recommendations in the long run and in the short term. That is why I think you hear the questions. The issue we have taken on is this big and it involves constitutional dimensions, administrative dimensions, legislative dimensions and institutional dimensions. It is a large issue. The problem members on this committee have is in trying to grapple with this thing and make recommendations that will work in the short term but that are consistent with where Indian people want to go in the long term.
One of the recommendations that keeps coming at us from the Indian community is to get rid of or seriously reduce the Department of Indian Affairs. it seems to me you do not object to examining that, but you want it examined in a particular way or with some conditions. Now, what are those conditions?
Mr. Paul: Most certainly, if you suggest that we do away with Indian Affairs tomorrow, what is there in place to carry out the kinds of things taking place presently? Something will have to be set up. So instead of having something that should be able to work directly with the Indian communities, you have to go through another maze of bureaucracy. You have to run over here for economic development; you have to run over there for social welfare; because there is some agreement with the provinces, you have to run to the provinces. If there is a serious problem, whatever it may be in Canada under our system of government, I think you should be able to resolve the problem by zeroing in on the way the department was set up.
But there is something wrong with that department. There has been something wrong with that department ever since it was set up, something wrong as to why it cannot resolve the problems facing the Indian people in Canada. I think that needs to be examined before you start running into another maze of the bureaucracy to try to resolve the problems.
Ms Jamieson: But could not the tribal councils, for instance, assume a lot of what the department is doing?
Mr. Paul: As I said, the statements about how we examine the department do not alter the fact that there is a need for more local control, real local control, and the kind of consistent funding that would allow the bands to do the kinds of things that should be done, instead of the way funding presently comes to the Indian bands.
Ms Jamieson: I have one final issue I would like to raise, Mr. Chairman, and this is something that we got in our briefing notes. I assume the department wrote this. It says that the First Nations of South Island are not interested in filing a land claim. First, is that so? If it is so, why is that so?
It seems to me that what I have been hearing this morning is that there is a serious problem in land, in terms of the size of the reserves. I mean, here we are in Nanoose. As far as I understand it, and the Chief can correct me if I am wrong, there are 150 acres for about 120-odd people. That is not very much. I know the Chief from Cowichan said that there is a need for more land. Maybe you can first answer if that is so, and if so, why.
Mr. Paul: Would you repeat your question from the beginning, the first part?
Ms Jamieson: The briefing notes I got say that the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council have little or no interest in filing a land claim, I want to know if that is so, and if that is so, why that is so, from your point of view.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, we have never submitted that kind of answer to anyone, I do not think; at least not that I know of. Why the department would say that, I do not understand. Our tribal council—and I am the chairman of that council—has never ever stated that. I just do not understand why it would end up in your briefing notes as such. For one thing, we have never surrendered the land, so why the department would say that is just beyond me. Again, it is just one of those things where the department assumes that it knows what Indian people want, and writes down what it thinks it knows best.
Again, it goes to the type of thing that we have been fighting for many years. We talk to the department and they interpret what they see or what they hear, and that goes on record and reaches government officials or politicians and sometimes becomes policy. We have never stated that.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Manly: On a point of order on that last issue, I think it is the government’s own land claims policy that make it very
difficult for any Indian tribal council or anything else to file a land claim in an area that is settled. Under the present land claims policy they have specifically denied the possibility of people in the Lower Mainland filing land claims. I presume they have discouraged people in South Island in the same way.
Ms Jamieson: I think that is true. I also think that this committee ought to have a very serious look at what it is we are reading, because this stuff is just not accurate. I agree with the chief that it is somebody’s idea of what these Indians need or want, or what it is they are doing now. I really take exception to that.
But I agree, and I could go on for an hour on the deficiencies of the land claims policy.
One of the points the chiefs made is that they have never surrendered the land, so the question is should they be claiming it from somebody? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Mr. Schellenberger.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you. If you wait long enough, most of the questions have been asked. That makes my job easier.
I just want to tie up a few things. There was a statement made that councils must incorporate in order to receive transfer of funds. Are you talking about the tribal council or the band that is being asked to incorporate? Is it the regional office that is asking that, or is that now a directive that is coming from the department?
Chief Sampson: The question on that, Mr. Chairman, is that it affects not only tribal councils but bands. In terms of economic development, for example, if a band wants to go into a large economic venture, the first thing the tribe or a band is asked is to incorporate, because they have to be recognized as a legal entity. So it applies to bands as well.
This also applies to housing. For example, if we want to go into a large housing program, we have to incorporate or become a housing authority under the societies act, and when you enter under the societies act, you again become subject to provincial laws. For example, if we go to a bank to build, say, 20 houses, we would have to have enough collateral set aside so that anything that we build could be held or owned by the bank or by the government itself. The government would sign an agreement saying that they will support that fund or that loan but that the land now is held by the Crown, by the government, whether it be CMHC or the minister himself. So if the loan were not paid off or the payments not kept up, they would have the power and authority to move people from that house so that they could collect the rent. It affects not only the
band, but it affects the individual right to the home owner. That is how much power and authority the government has over that kind of a process.
It is the same with development. One of our hands in my area owns a marina and this year they were taxed; for last year they had to pay $10,000 in taxes because they had incorporated under the provincial societies act and therefore the government was able to tax that reserve because of its development. So we are not in favour of incorporation, because it turns jurisdiction authority from the band or even from the individual land owner over to the province, and we are not really prepared to do that.
Under the present system—and there is a letter here just this week—the department is saying that unless we incorporate as a tribal council there shall be no funding to our tribal council. The tribal council really is not the authority and the power of the chairman. What it is, it is the power and authority of collective groups of tribes coming together to try to resolve a problem or try to set up an administrative function which we could live with. That is what a tribal council is. But the department has looked at the tribal council as an authority which would take over the department’s responsibility. And really, the department never incorporated in order to take its authority from us, so I do not see why we have to incorporate in order to assume our own responsibility.
Mr. Schellenberger: It is an interesting question of debate, how you become a legal entity, and when you do become a legal entity, what rights you give up by being a legal entity in determining whether you can have loans or seek loans or the administration of certain funds. I think we should pursue that a bit with the department, whether in fact by incorporation they are making taxation and lands available to be seized in case of lack of payment.
Chief Sampson: That is the very thing that we are talking about, Mr. Chairman—the types of development that are occurring on Indian reserves today. You see, Indian reserves as they were set aside were meant for Indian people so that we could practice and live according to our . . . As more and more non-Indian people move onto the reserves, it becomes more and more difficult. I am not talking only about non-Indian people, but also in terms of development. It makes it difficult for us to survive as Indian people, because along with these people come their own laws and regulations, whether it be through an understanding through the person who owns the land that they have rights on an Indian reserve—and the Charter of Rights could very well determine that. White people or non-Indians living on a reserve under the Charter of
Rights may even have power and authority one day to elect the chief. They might have that power.
Mr. Schellenberger: What we are talking about, I guess, is the whole question of coexistence. You have brought this up a number of times . . .
Chief Sampson: Yes, I have.
Mr. Schellenberger: —and it is an important question that has to be discussed, as was said before, in detail.
I wonder, when we express frustration at discussing these types of things before committees and nothing is happening, if we are not now at a period of time when something must happen. We talk about the Charter of Rights, the Constitution, a demand for self-government. Are we not entering a period of time when things have to happen; when we will no longer be satisfied with keeping the so-called consultation or discussion process going on and on forever with nothing happening. If that is the case and if our committee is successful in making certain recommendations that action will result, what is the mechanism for that consultation’? Is it the committee coming back out and discussing the recommendations, saying, are these acceptable?—and we present a paper in that fashionfh Is it a bill put before Parliament that recommends changes that the committee could take out and ask for amendment? Is that the process? Or is it the committee’s saying, look, we think there should be some movement towards self-government, and then saying, let us have the Indian nations bring that mechanism to us and then we will deal with it in a a bill or a paper or whatever. Have you any suggestions?
Mr. Paul: Yes. First of all, when I first heard about this committee I thought it was a standing committee, and then I found out it was a subcommittee of the standing committee, and then I found out it was a special committee.
The remark I have to make about that is, first of all, that I wanted to know what the authority of this committee was, and I found that it has just recommending powers to the government. I think this would have been the point in time that you are talking about, of moving to a stage of trying to zero in on some kind of recommendations that will bring about some action. I would have hoped that this committee would have been made up of 50% Indian people, and I think that is what I suggest when I am saying that if we are really going to be serious about removing Indian Affairs, we look at how we view, or come to some understanding about, the trust relationship. If we are going to remove this ugly sore of what we term “dependency”, then I think Indian people have to have some real authority, whether it is extended finally in terms of local control or self-determination. I think a clear demonstration should be made at this point in time and I would certainly recommend that this kind of committee, if it is going to exist
and continue to do a job and a follow-through job, be made up of 50% of Indian people in Canada.
I think if we are going to continue to talk about doing away with Indian Affairs, let us have a look at where the problems are, and why Indian Affairs has not functioned over the history of its existence. One of the ways of really testing the seriousness of government is this: why cannot Indian people be put in the real decision-making positions within the senior levels of the Department of Indian Affairs? I think we have got up to close to the deputy minister, but the best we have been able to do so far is a special assistant. That is why I question why they term this committee “special”. It sounds something like the position that we are offered at the senior level, of being a special assistant to the minister.
You know, I think if we are going to talk about doing away with Indian Affairs, what I suggest is that we take a look at putting some Indian people in high positions of government. The kind of things that we are talking about; the kind of questions that this committee and the government and previous committees have been asking and trying to offer more control to Indian people—why cannot we do it under the existing situation? If there is genuine seriousness about these kinds of discussions, why cannot the deputy minister be an Indian?
Mr. Schellenberger: There is no reason why that cannot be the case. The minister or the government would have to get serious about doing that. There is nothing in the government that I see that denies an Indian person from holding any position in the Department of Indian Affairs. It would be a matter of the minister in fact doing that; or ministers.
I know we are getting on in time, but I wanted to question a little bit about the whole budget of Indian Affairs. The question was brought forward whether that is in fact a payment by Canada to Indians or whether that is part of the treaties that delivers certain services. We talked about Indian people wanting to be the same as any other Canadian, which means the right to all the services that the Government of Canada gives to any Canadian. I think that is what Roberta was getting at in her questioning, saying, cannot the demand for those services go directly to the government as the provinces do and municipalities in some cases do, rather than to the Department of Indian Affairs, where we have this duplication of public servants who eat up so much of the funds. Eliminate the regional office. A lot of funds could be put into economic development or some other desperate need. I think that is a question that is coming to us and we are asking back: is that possible and can that happen through tribal councils or whatever? We are seriously questioning that, because there is a way of putting forward more funds into economic need.
Then on the other side of the question comes the whole question of assets—land, trust and so forth, which perhaps is a question that will have to be dealt with after the constitutional conference has defined those things, if it can in fact do that,
You may want to comment on my comment. My last question has to do with the fishing area. Were any of the chiefs in council involved in the Pearse report, and have you any comments about its recommendations on established quotas? I just want to know whether you had any involvement in the report. I believe it is a federally commissioned report. It was commissioned to deal with the question and I do not know what is happening with it.
Chief Recalma: Mr. Chairman, I was involved with the Pearse report through an organization I belong to called the Indian Fishing Organization Native Brotherhood. I get back this same thing when there is talk about quotas and things. The primary question of management and who that resource belongs to has to be settled before Pearse. It is a political situation. The fishing industry is in bad shape. The government has to have something in the press. There is nothing happening right now with the Pearse report. As to the system of quotas, how can the government be talking about something like that when there is a question of the right to manage the resource?
Mr. Schellenberger: They have put the cart before the horse.
Chief Recalma: Yes.
Mr. Schellenberger: They should deal with one question first and then the other question.
Chief Recalma: And that is precisely what this committee is doing, in a sense, too.
Mr. Underwood: Mr. Chairman, if I may partially answer the gentleman’s question in relation to the operational plan of the department, I would like first to refer to the attitude of the department in relation to the operational plan—and that is a letter which was submitted by our district to the regional office in Vancouver, which read:
Subject: Nanaimo district operational plan, COL package, 1982-1985.
It is with distinct pleasure that we are able to announce, after seven days of very intensive labour, attended by numerous specialists, nurses and other administrative help, the birth of our baby, operational plan COL, package 82-85. The specialists had to decide to go to Caesarean in view of the total weight, which is estimated at a little over 6.5 lb. metric. We hope that the parents in the region will have lots of pleasure in this baby, more especially with all the attention given in specialist care during the birth and labour.
We are awaiting with eager apprehension the critics compliments for our baby.
They go further, to state that in our district in the opera tional plan under the 7,000 series, band government of… because of the incremental cost and the lack of funding, the band staff are poorly trained in management of scarce resources and they are necessarily wasted. The impact of this is that the future resource requirements will need to be higher than they should be to pay for inefficient and ineffective Indian management of services delivery.
We submitted an Indian budget to you gentlemen, and in return we get from our district something which states that. in the case of this district, they did not respond, as it was not addressed to them. We gave it to Mr. Walchli and mailed it to the ministers office in Ottawa, which says there is no record or recollection of the minister receiving anything from the First Nations of South Island. The attitude and the response of the department are more the issue, than their philosophy.
To our request for meetings with the minister and our South Island District Council, Mr. Walchli says in his letter dated May 18, 1982:
However, a copy of Chief Sampson’s telex has been received asking if we would please contact and see if their concerns can be addressed locally or by regional officials. . .
So Mr. Walchli writes to our district stating:
Therefore, would you please meet with the council to try and resolve this matter.
Our district office writes to Mr. Sampson seven days later and says, at the end, that:
. . . if this matter can be resolved at the regional level . . .
—which is passing the authority back and forth.
Mr. Schellenberger: It looks like all the papers you have there are contributing to the bald hills that we were talking about before. A government certainly can do that.
Ms Jamieson: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if we could table some of that material? Perhaps they would either send it to us, Mr. Underwood, or table it with the committee today.
Mr. Underwood: In answer to that I will say, as we have said before, that we have been making these submissions. You have copies of them or copies are available to you. A copy of this operational plan is in the department and available for making copies.
Ms Jamieson: I mean just the letters.
Mr. Underwood: Oh, the letters.
Ms Jamieson: The problem is, as I understand it, although they may be tabled with the standing committee, this commit-
tee cannot draw from that evidence in the preparation of its report. We can use only the material that has been filed in evidence with us. Is that accurate?
The Chairman: Oh, I think that would be a pretty narrow interpretation.
Ms Jamieson: Then we can also review what was tabled with the standing committee, so that they do not have to table it again?
Mr. Underwood: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I will make copies of covering letters and correspondence that relate to our presentation, and that will be part and parcel of our submission.
Ms Jamieson: Okay.
The Chairman: Thank you very much. I am sure the members have many more questions, but I want to say at this point, Chief Sampson, to you and members of the South Island Tribal Council, that we are indebted to you for the time you put into the preparation of your submissions, for the forthright way in which you have responded to our questions, and for the discussion we have had this morning. In my view it has been a worthwhile exchange; a very honest and open exchange. You have been helpful to the committee in a great many ways, so I want to thank you very much for appearing today.
Chief Sampson: Mr. Chairman, our response is that it is our intention, even though we have met with you as a special committee, to pursue our goals beyond this meeting. We have gone through a process, I suppose, in the last two years which has been really tiresome; it has become a full-time job just trying to remain Indian. And what we would like to see because ofthese efforts is that you people put some effort into our efforts to make sure that our presentations, our concerns, are pushed on to the level of government where something can be done—not just to the deputy ministers. The deputy ministers, I think, are part of our problem, because they seem to control the amount of activity of the various ministers— whether it be the Minister of Indian Affairs or any other minister. They seem to control their lives and make it very difficult for us to communicate with the necessary people in government to achieve some of the very minor changes that we would like to see in terms of getting an ordinary job done.
With that, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the tribal council and those witnesses who came before you today, we thank this committee for hearing what we have to say. It has been limited; we have not had our full chance to expose all of our ideas in terms of even the Pearse commission—because we went to a lot of work expressing our views to the minister or Mr. Pearse himself, and even while we were in consultation with him the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was planning to sink our boat. So we cannot understand when we sit down with government whether they are being honest with us or whether they are planning the next fatal step we take.
That seems to be the case in most cases when we sit down with government, that they constantly bleed us and after they have bled us they set the trap. We do not like this kind of tactics, whether it be a committee of any sort or a commission that constantly are determined and hell bent on finishing us off.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to say there is only one way they are going to do away with the Indians and that is to line us up and shoot us all down at the same time. That is what it is going to take to get rid of us, and it is not going to be that easy.
I will part with these words because of our sincerity in dealing with you openly and frankly. It is with those statements, Mr. Chairman, I thank the committee, those of you here, for the time that you have given us this morning and into this afternoon.
When we finish. I understand that dinner is going to be right here in this room. Also, we will ask our elder to close our part of the meeting with a closing prayer when you are finished. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Chief.
Just before I call upon Elder Abel Joe, I want to say that the door is not closed to any further information that you may wish to present to the committee. I understand you are doing more work. We did talk about mechanisms and some very technical aspects. If you want to submit that at any time, it will be more than welcome and well received.
Thank you very much.
Elder Abel Joe, would you like to conclude this mornings proceedings?
Chief Sampson: Before we close, he would like to make some closing remarks and then we will say the prayer. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Mr. Joe: I would like to thank all the special committee today. In my research as an Indian, in 1884 the Indian department could not do anything with the Indian power. At that time they said, let us take the Indian power away from the Indian people and take everything away from them, and they will have to live like us and we will control them. And that is what happened.
The things that you are going to say to the people who have ears that are going to listen to you are very important for all our people: for yourselves, and mostly for the Indian people, how we live differently from your people. The laws that are different, that are laws that are changed every year, every day, we have to put up with. Now we have some of it back through your own language, and he could see in here, listening to our young people speak your language; but who has the ears to listen and give us back the things that we need to live peace- fully, like all the rest of the people of Canada? Then we can coexist with them and understand one another.
Like the Chinook language thing. They call it a Hudson Bay language, where the white people, the French people, and the Indians understood one another. That is gone. We do not understand one another at all unless we speak the English language.
So let this committee help us so we can live peacefully. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Joe: [Closing prayer in his native language—Editor.])
The Chairman: This meeting is now adjourned until 1.45 p.m.
A Witness: We are in the process of presenting our papers to you. We are from the west coast of Vancouver Island, and what we are going to do is customary for us to do when something of importance is going to be presented to an equally important person. We would like to let you know that our culture, what we do here, is very much part of us. Thank you very much.
[Song in native language at this point in the proceedings.— Editor]
Chief Simon Lucas (Hesquiaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): Mr. Chairman, I have just a couple of words about the chant that demonstrated a government long before the emergence of European customs, clearly outlining that there was government here before anybody else set foot. The second song we sang also demonstrates the hunt of the great chiefs, the government that governed our people.
The last song we sang is a warrior song. It is important for us to sing that song, because we realize we will have to have verbal war in trying to convince the Canadian people that our people—the Nuu-chah-nulth people, our grandfathers and their grandfathers before them—survived because they had government, how they utilized the resources they governed and how the resources looked after the people and the people vice versa. That is what that song is about.
In appreciation for letting us onto your great land and into your house, we would like to present you with a plaque from our area for your great building here.
Chief Mike Mnquinna (Mowachaht Tribe): Thank you, Si.
I would just like to say, on behalf of our people, I am proud to receive this. It will hang with honour in our hall. I express the word “honour” because I also am half Nuu-chah-nulth from my mother’s side, and it gives me great pleasure to receive this from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
Thank you, George and Si.
The Chairman: Our first submission this afternoon is from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Just before we get underway, I would invite any of the photographers who wish to take any more photographs to do so now, before we get underway with our formal proceedings.
The brief from the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has been distributed to all members. The chairman of the tribal council, Mr. George Watts, will introduce the members of the tribal council who are with him.
Mr. Watts, if you would do that for us now, we would appreciate it very much.
Mr. George Watts (Chairman, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would just like to say my name is Wameesh. I am registered under the Indian Act, though, as George Watts. I would like our members to introduce themselves.
Ms Bernice Touchie (Yulthuiltbat Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Bernice Touchie from the Yulthuilthat Band. I am also the Chairman of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Education Committee.
Chief Charlie Thompson (Nitinaht Tribe, Nun-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Charlie Thompson from Nitinaht.
Chief Hugh Watts (Hupachesaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Hugh Watts, Hupachesaht Band.
Chief Mike Maquinna (Mowachaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Mike Maquinna from the Mowachaht Band.
Chief Bert Mack (Toquaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): My given name by the government is Bert Mack. I am Chief of the Toquaht Tribe on the west coast.
Chief Arthur Peters (Ohiaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): My name is Arthur Peters, Chief of the Ohiaht Band.
Mr. Francis Smith (Ehattesaht Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): My Christian name is Francis Smith, better known as Frankie Smith. My name from my mother’s side is (indaudible—Editor).
Chief Dan David (Kyuquot Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Dan David. I represent the Chief of the Kyuquot Band.
Chief Sarah Cootes (Huchakthisat Tribe, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council): I am Sarah Cootes, Chief of Huchakthisat Band.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Mr. Watts, is it your intention to read the document for the record? Is that your wish?
Mr. George Watts: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: All right, would you like to proceed now? Following that, we would like to have some discussion with you and some questions, if you are agreeable.
Mr. George Watts: Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to take one minute, though, before we start. Now that we have introduced ourselves, I would like to introduce our people to Mr. Oberle, a member of your committee, who has asked a number of questions about our tribal council funding and whether or not those moneys were spent appropriately and according to the contracts. So, Mr. Oberle, I would like you to meet the people about whom you were questioning the funding. I would like them to see who you are, too.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to emphasize the spirit in which this paper is presented. It is on the first page there. It says:
We, the hereditary chiefs of the tribes who make up the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, present this submission to the Subcommittee on Indian Self-Government through our council on behalf of all Nuu-chah-nulth people.
I pay special emphasis to that, Mr. Chairman, because of our position as Nuu-chah-nulth people, We do, in fact, have aboriginal title to the west coast of Vancouver Island and the adjoining seas. It is these people who own that territory and our government.
I would like to start off with the introduction.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council represents the interests of over 4,500 native people from 14 bands located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Today, we are presenting the views outlined in this paper on behalf of the hereditary chiefs of all the member bands of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
Sadly, we are still not able to consider ourselves Canadians. We continue to share the fate of indigenous peoples throughout the world, relegated to the margin of societies that displaced us from our lands, stole our resources and then, when we did not die as people, either ignored us or patronized us, constantly stripping away those things that are at the heart of our people’s dignity,
We, the Nuu-chah-nulth people, have no agreement with the Canadian people regarding what is central to our life as a people. Our history, our territory, our tradition of self-government, our relationship to the resources of the sea and the land, the essence of who we are, have been misunderstood, ignored and often consciously trampled upon by the institutions that accompany the non-native settlement of Canada.
Our struggle today is born out of a legacy of injustice, exploitation, bureaucratic insensitivity and non-Indian self-interest. It is also born out of the necessity of squarely facing the results of our oppression, which are constantly cited by social scientists, the media, and lately, even the Minister of Indian Affairs.
Our struggle has two primary emphases. We have to forge an agreement with the people of Canada, through the federal government, which recognizes our right to life as a people. This right must be embodied in concrete measures which
ensure adequate territory, resources and powers of self-government. Secondly, our struggle is rooted in the reality of our people, the historical process which commits us to reconstructing the lives of individuals and communities; in short, reconstructing our peoplehood.
The elements of traditional government: Life for the Nuu-chah-nulth people, before domination by the European society, was highly structured. The fabric of our society was made up of acomplex system of territorial rights, economic roles and political and cultural processes, all of which had evolved to ensure the well-being of our communities.
The boundaries of both water and land were well defined between tribes and individuals, and I quote from an individual from Mowachaht:
Long ago there was no white man, each band—tribe—had their own territory. Nobody could get in otherwise. They were prisoners. This was the law.
And another quote from a person from Ahousaht:
There was a real strict and standing law between each nation. If you were caught within any of the boundaries that belonged to any other nation, you never had a second chance.
A person from Tseshaht said:
I am going to go back to a little while ago when I went to Charlie Jones, 101 years of age. . . He told us his territorial rights, where he was on his father’s side and on his mother’s side, and he told us if they found anything on that beach or wherever, they had to go see Charlie first, and if he saw fit to give it or if Charlie gets it, it was up to him, he had territorial rights.
The governing system was complex with many different facets. At the centre of the system was the chiefs, and the sub-chiefs and councillors. This body set the policies for the tribe throughout a collective decision-making process.
Again, a person from Ahousaht:
The councillors worked with the chief on all of his plans. That was a very important role for them. In essence, as responsible as the chiefs role itself.
And another person from Ahousaht said:
Before the Europeans came in, we had our own council. They had the power to run our tribes and maintain the boundaries of their reserves. Taking care of the tribe’s resources was also the duty of the council.
The role of the council and chief did not take away from the specific roles of other members in the community who received their roles at the time of their birth.
A person from Ahousaht said:
Each person has a role and nobody else can take that place for him. Nobody else, if the role was appointed for him.
And a person from Ehattesaht said:
I am a helper of other families, of other people. That is what my Indian name meant the day I was born and it was brought to my attention and I practiced that from the time I could understand what life was all about.
A quote from an Ahousaht person:
One was an official spokesman and community diplomat. He made sure everyone’s problems were taken care of. One had to know all land boundaries and the land owners. One had to know the right time for harvesting land and sea resources and ensure everyone received their share.
A member from Tseshaht said:
At the Kluquana, everybody had a certain place to sit and that was a recognized thing and the usher, he was a person who knew where everybody sat. He was taught that was his whole role. He was taught that from childhood, how to set things up for the Kluquana, and he eventually knew exactly where everybody sat.
There are a wide variety of roles and these roles were extremely important in terms of the functioning of the community. For example, at the time of war, a person from Opetchesaht said:
At a time of war, sometimes whole governments were turned topsy turvy, completely topsy turvy, so that the one that was the first chief over here became absolutely put away. They put him right away. The man who was to be the war chief rose to prominence and took care of business. When the war was over, it was turned over again, because there were men who were trained to be making war, to do that kind of business.
Another very important role was the role of the wolf:
The wolf was the instrument of control of the community and of the society. And the authority in the wolf was such that they could discipline any individual in the community. Certain cases, when there was a breakup of a marriage, the wolf was called on to bring these two together. There was no way after that that they could ever live apart again. They could never separate because the wolf is the final authority.
The wolf even had final control over the chief, sub-chiefs and council.
A person from Ahousaht’s quote:
The government was controlled by an overseer called the Wolf. The wolves were the people that controlled the government. We had two history cases in Ahousaht where the chief became a dictator and it was up to the wolf to destroy that chief, and they had to because it was their job. That was their policy, and they killed that chief because he had become a dictator. He started taking things that did not belong to him.
Maybe we should loan the government our wolves. The facet of our system, which encompassed all of the legislative, administrative, executive and enforcement functions described thus far, was the Kluquana. You might say that these aspects of our government came from the Kluquana. It was the time and place the government surfaced, was identified and recognized, and where what was being done and to whom could be seen and experienced. However, it was also more than this. It was the heart and soul of our people.
The Kluquana was where the stream of our ancestral history converged with the present. It was the glue of our society—the point at which the wholeness of our body, mind and spirit as a people was formed, maintained and celebrated. To be initiated into the Kluquana, to be painted, marked, was to enter a very high philosophical, religious thing.
Somebody from Opetchesaht said:
A very important part of the Kluquana was religion. A very important part of it was economic because a great deal of resources were disbursed among different people. I might be sitting here with a great mountain of things and when it was through I got nothing, and that is a very important thing. It was a part of every facet of life. It was not something that five guys sat down and said we are going to do this and we are going to make this guy do this. Kluquana was social and people got together. Government was not a cold thing, I do not know how to say it. It was not some cold, mechanical process. There was socializing that went on during the Kluquana. Heaven only knows, you call 10 tribes of people together into a house and they spend 14 days together. There is going to be a lot of socializing. There was a high culture. Today they go to the theatre; they go to the ballet; they go to the Vancouver orchestra. At Kluquana, people sat down and they saw everything from high humour to low humour, to the highest form of art. We had ballet. It was not called ballet. We had dancers that imitated animals. We had theatre. We had every kind of high art that there was. There was sculpture, and during Kluquana, people from all different facets of life were related to the government. I want to say that the government was never a cold or a mechanical thing.
There is another aspect to the Kluquana which is very important in understanding the deep roots of the Nuu-chah-nulth people’s identity. We have already pointed out that the Kluquana was a reflection of the government, it was not the government. It was always an illustration of the government. At a Kluquana called by the chief of one tribe, there were always members of other tribes present.
Again, somebody from Opetchesaht:
If the Nithahts got together at Kluquana, and if Pacheenaht were there, they had an absolute right to be there. Ohiaht had a right to be there. Tisheshaht had a right to be there. It was never questioned. I think it is important for everybody to know that in fact Kluquana represents a league confederacy.
In summary, Kluquana was a place where wealth was distributed, a place where music, dance, theatre and humour were celebrated and shared, a place where position, rights, authority and responsibilities were recognized and affirmed. Finally, it was a place where, because a deep sense of sacredness was present . . . a sense of being at one with the Creator, unified as a people—our life as a people was nourished, kept strong and rooted in fundamental beliefs of our society.
Our system worked to produce a healthy, prosperous, self-determining people, and I quote from an Indian Affairs’ paper:
They—the people of the West Coast—are a hardy and industrious race and, so far as I would perceive, the richest of any Indians I have met in the provinces. Were a proper disposal made of their immense gains they could, without a doubt, live independently and furnish themselves with every comfort and every luxury to be wished for. There seems to be scarcely a limit to their productive resources, and I am told that it is not at all uncommon for an Indian to realize from $500 to $1,000 per year from their sealing grounds and fisheries alone.
And that was in 1875.
Now, some major factors contributing to the breakdown of Indian self-government, and this is from Joseph Trutch who was one of the surveyors of reserves in B.C.:
I think they—Native Indians of Oregon District—are the ugliest and laziest creatures I ever saw and we should as soon think of being afraid of our dogs as of them.
Again, another quote from Trutch:
Indians really have no rights to the lands they claim, nor are they of any actual value or utility to them, and I cannot see why they should either retain these lands to the prejudice of the general interest of the colony, or be allowed to make a market of them either to government or to individuals.
Now a quote from somebody from Ehattesaht:
The land was our total life, our natural resources, our lands, our seas, our rivers, the foreshore, everything.
We made use of natural resources, the oceans, the seas, Simon had the foreshore, that was his responsibility, to make sure that everything is in order on the foreshore. Whatever drifts on the shore is either his or he gives it to somebody else.
There is a multitude of things we did with our land, I will give you a prime example. Abel John took me and showed me a swamp. He said that looks like a swamp to you. It doesn’t mean anything to you but to me that’s my drug store. That’s where I get my herbs, that’s where I get my medicine from. That’s a use of land. The mountains were used. It was both sacred to us and a provider. It was a type of solitude. You spend millions of dollars getting into the mountains today. We did that for nothing.
We used to take one tree. How did we use it? We used it for transportation, we used it for our houses, we used it for our history, our totem poles. We used it for our clothing. We
used it for our culture. We used it for our twine nets and from the roots we made hooks. Even down to the roots of the cedar we used. We have clams on our foreshore. We used the cedar trees for storage, to build boxes, great big boxes, and then filled them with our sustanance, dried fish, dried meat, everything.
The initial factors eroding our society can be traced back to government officials, such as the charming gentleman quoted above, missionaries, and finally to the Department of Indian Affairs under a variety of different names and ministers. The systematic attack on our lands and resources and the imposition of foreign ideology and institutions functioned together to erode our access to resources, undercut the authority of our government and weaken the heart of our culture,
A person from Mowachaht said:
I welcome you Europeans with open arms and when you came into my country you said to me that you would borrow my lands to meet your needs, only to end up taking the whole of my country.
Can you comprehend the deep anger that is born of this fact? And today, can you begin to enter into the lives of those your society has stolen from and understand the basic facts of life that confront our people every day?
Listen to an Ahousaht person speaking of his people’s bread and butter:
We say that we want immediate attention drawn onto the put-put fishermen on the basis of human rights. We figure it is against the Human Rights Act, depriving the guy of the right to go out and earn his bread and butter. Using Ahousaht as an example, we were using one license for 30 put-puts in order to sell the put-put fishermen’s catch. That’s not right and we are getting to the point we are not going to accept it quietly anymore … we are going to fight. It’s not right that people have to sell their fish under the table but I’m telling you that it is being done in order for that man to get bread and butter to put on the table.
When they made the law outlawing the Kluquana, the potlatch as you know it, is it possible for you to feel the deep sadness of an old man who knew what it meant?
A person from the Uchucklesaht said:
The old man with tears in his eyes said this is what is going to happen, because the government was saying anyone could be the chief. You would be relying on everyone’s greed, you were encouraging that. And disarray began to happen. Boundaries that had been so carefully placed, all the laws, the enforcement . . . the whole system was completely destroyed.
Is it possible for you to place yourselves in our shoes, the shoes of those in our communities whose personhood was violated by institutions bent on assimilating us?
A person from Clayquot:
I can’t understand why the government came in and said you can’t live like that. It’s not acceptable. I mean we didn’t go to Europe and tell them you can’t talk like that. You talk like us, you speak English.
A person from Uchucklesaht said:
We had a jail in Christie school. There was a kind of a little closet. There are names there still carved in the wood. This person spoke Indian so now he is jailed for it.
Is it possible for you to become sensitive to the experience of a people who continue to be daily under the thumb of an act and a department that represents attitudes and interests most often incapable of comprehending our goals or our priorities?
A person from Nitnaht said:
I can’t, I really can’t agree with whatever DIA does, I can’t agree with it. I am sick and tired of DIA being there from day I to control whatever we do.
A person from Uchucklesaht said:
You strip a person, first you strip him of their dignity by taking away their rights, their responsibilities, their respect, by saying this doesn’t apply any more, you’re a nobody.
First, there was the systematic erosion of our control over resources—fish, mammals, hunting, land and lakes, on which the society was based. Secondly, there was the attempt to destroy the governmental system, the Kluquana, which controlled and distributed our resources and was at the heart of our culture and our traditions. These two factors are the foundations for dependency, a condition which is a constraining factor in our struggle to reconstruct the lives of individuals and communities.
The Department of Indian Affairs stands as the central institution, pervasively acting to reinforce this condition of dependency, the mire out of which our people are struggling.
Now I would like to go on to the portion that deals with how we get out of this situation.
This is a quote from Mr. Munro:
No, it is a question of answering the legitimate charges of people, both Indian and non Indian, that indicate we are contributing to a very destructive sense of dependency, which is contributing mightily to a continuance of intolerable conditions of poverty within the Indian people.
Minister Munro Dec.7, 1982, page 10—“Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence”, Sub-Committee on Indian Self-government
Fundamental to our ongoing struggle to reconstruct our communities is our relationship between our people and the natural resources in the vicinity of our communities. The many means by which government has denied us access to these resources and restricted our influence on their management
and use has already been cited as a major factor contributing to dependency and all the associated ills which accompany it. It would appear that the minister at least partially recognizes this point.
Another quote from Mr. Munro, written to Mrs. Cecille McKinnon, who was a Liberal candidate in our riding and wrote a letter to the minister about our land claims:
The aboriginal peoples have contended that their future social and economic progress is in large measures dependent upon the recognition and affirmation of these rights— aboriginal rights—and the Government of Canada has accepted this argument.
Unless it is completely understood that the interaction of human and natural resources are intimately related to our economic, cultural, and political development, then the work of the subcommittee and the recommendations it formulates will be nothing but a waste of time.
Coming to an agreement with the Canadian government regarding our rights to resources while perhaps not being a primary focus of our deliberations, cannot help but be a central reference point in any serious consideration of self-government. The point of the subcommittee, from our point of view, has to do with what kind of agreement between ourselves and Canada would constitute an adequate basis for us to consider ourselves Canadians. The consultation process with our people has yielded some clear directions.
This is what a person from the Ucluelet said:
For the last countless years we have tried it their way, and what we are saying now is we want to do it our way. We have seen the abuse, we’ve seen the decline of the resources, we have seen the non-participation of us in any of the decision making capacities . . . We should be there as decision makers, not as token representatives, but decision makers with the power to make decisions that are related to looking after our future well being and the future of our children and our childrens’ children . . .
Again, another quote from a person from Ucluelet:
We dont like the way you are looking after us, we don’t accept the way you are looking after us, we want no part of the way you are going to look after us in the future. We as people will govern our well being . . . we will determine what is good for us, not some bureaucrat sitting in Nanaimo, Vancouver, Ottawa or wherever. I am responsible for people and as an elected representative my accountability is to the people who put me in that position… If I am going to participate at the local level and the band is to participate, those are where the decisions are to be made. This is a right not a privilege.
Our people have had enough. We believe if the government has any sincerity in wanting to create conditions within which self-government can be strengthened, control must be vested in the communities. The words of a Ucluelet leader represent a
consensus among the Nuu-chah-nulth people involved in our consultation process.
It is high time that, if they are sincere, they start with the dismantling of DIA. If it takes a period of time to phase DIA out, fine, let’s set a time limit. Let’s not say, O.K. in 20 years we will begin dismantling DIA. Let’s just say that at the end of 5 years the full control and authority will be vested with the band councils and the membership of the respective bands and they will determine their future, their childrens’ future and so on.
A person from the Ucluelet said:
And I will accept that. And I will accept the responsibilities and the criticism and the good times and the bad times . . . and so will our band members. But we will have the final determination as to whether we want to proceed or fail and we don’t want to fail. We know there is a tough job ahead of us. We know we don’t need the bureaucratic red tape.
We want to make a decision, right or wrong. That is our decision, the bands’ decision and that is what I want for my people.
We think it is also important for you to understand that to assert our position of taking over full responsibility is not a matter that is taken lightly. The dependency the present system has created is in itself a constraint, an obstacle to the development of self-government.
And a person from Nitnaht says:
What are we going to do without the things that the government has given us? How are you going to look after me because I got to eat? I have to get a house for my children, my children need clothing, my children need an education, How are we going to get rid of that dependency they have bestowed upon us? That is going to be very difficult and we are the ones that are going to have to make those decisions and I really do not think it is going to be easy.
The point is that the continuation of the existing system can be a trap for developing responsibility in self-government.
And a person from Tseshaht says:
It is necessary to devise a system where we can take care of ourselves rather than going to the Department of Indian Affairs for everything. It ends up being a two way street. They (the DIA) hinder us but people also use it (the DIA) as an excuse for their mistakes so I think that if once we get the control down to the band level . . . we won’t have anybody else to blame. We will have to learn things as we go along, to develop as we go along and be able to make decisions as a self governing body should be able to make without big brother looking over your shoulder and making sure you do it the way they want you to.
I doubt that any person on this committee can reject the wisdom of this statement. How can anybody govern without the authority to establish its own priorities, make its own decisions, learn from its own advances and its own mistakes.
We want to talk now about the question of finance, a subject that is continually advanced by the DIA bureaucrats as a hammer to structure policy and programs and generally manipulate our lives in the name of being accountable to the taxpayer through the minister and Parliament.
First, let us recognize that all the indicators are that the government’s programs have failed miserably. The minister knows it; you know it; we know it only too well; and the general public also has its suspicions. In short, the elaborate system developed over decades at the cost of billions of dollars has not worked. I hope to God you on this committee have enough sense to know where to place the blame for that.
Second, we do not buy that the money that has been spent by the federal government is anything more than a poorly delivered rental payment for the use of our land and resources. Here we are, the owners, talking to you about how we can exercise more control over the spending of money that you owe us as rental. It is what you might call a black comedy. There are thousands of Nuu-chah-nulth people who echo this conviction.
A person from Ahousaht says:
I think the white society has to realize we are not selling our land we are just bringing you up to date on your rent. My grandfather never sold the west coast.
The absurdity of this situation is highlighted when one examines how rent money is divided by DIA: 63% for department programs classified as remedial, 12% which might be called preventive, 13% for department overhead, and only 12% developmental. Of $33 million in the 1982-1983 regional budget, only $5 million is allocated to economic development, and of this, only $2 million is directly available to bands. There should be a correction there: $33 million went into the social development program and $5 million went into economic development. We agree with Mr. Beaver when he says that we need to reverse the above proportions and that only developmental programs that effect real changes can be considered as investments in the future.
In addition, the recent Indian Conditions Report has indicated that the department has steadily lost ground relative to other program areas and even relative to other social programs during the 1970s. Between 1970-1971 and 1978-1979, the program budget increased 28% in total, 5% per capita, compared to an increase of up to 190% in other social program departments of the government.
Then, on top of this, there is the Auditor General’s report of 1980 which provides some deserved criticism of the department’s incompetence. However, his recommendations lead to centralization of decision-making, tightening up of rules and procedures and greater difficulties in getting dollars to pursue the developmental objectives central to any legitimate strategy of reducing dependency.
And then, finally, there was an announcement in the November 1980 budget of the western development fund which appeared to have the possibility of finally securing some developmental dollars. Tribal councils throughout B.C. met several times to develop a new approach to handling the resources implied in the Finance Minister’s budget announcement. Approaches were sought which would ensure investment in the long-term viability and health of communities and attack directly dependency conditions. Then, after months of work, we heard that the western development fund was a phantom, and then that $345 million had been allocated for Indian economic development throughout Canada, and then that this amount had been cut in half. Today, well over two years later, there is still not a red penny and well thought out development plans languish as a result of having no access to money.
Well, let it be heard, loudly and clearly, that we are sick and tired of being played with. Enough is enough.
These dollars generated from the resources of this country which we have aboriginal title to, and which we have never given up, should be viewed as a transfer payment to us. The accountability for how it is spent should be from the Indian government to the people they represent. We will decide how the rent due us is to be spent, and you can be assured that it will not be wasted on programs that contribute to dependency. This is the structural shift that is required and it relates to an eventual settlement of what is known as sea and land claims, those areas identified by the Nuu-chah-nulth Declaration and Claim submitted to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development on October 16, 1980 . . . see Appendix 2. And I might note that that claim still has not been answered by the government. It also relates to the financing and strengthening of self-government and to developmental initiatives which advance our self-reliance.
In addition, assuming we can forge an agreement with Canada, we would expect transfer payments from the federal government that relate to those areas of life all Canadians enjoy, such as the payments to the provinces embodied in the Canada Assistance Plan and for education, law enforcement and so on. For these payments we stand ready to be fully accountable for the expenditure of dollars transferred, similar to the accountability agreements between the provinces and the federal government under existing legislation.
Now, I would like to outline some objectives and steps towards achieving this self-government:
1. Phase-out of the Department of Indian Affairs over the next five years: Our people’s position is crystal clear. The department is a major stumbling block in our struggle to develop effective self-government. Our analysis of our experience and the environment the department operates within leads us to assert that the department is incapable of fundamental change. We are prepared to take on the rights, risks, and the responsibilities; in fact, we demand it.
2. Turn over responsibility for all band capital and and band revenue immediately: If the government is sincere in facilitating Indian governments being strengthened in a concrete way, all band capital and revenue moneys currently being held by Ottawa should be transferred to the direct control of bands.
3. Present dollars to be structured as transfer payments to bands: That dollars presently administered by the Department of Indian Affairs under this program and guidelines be structured as transfer payments to bands who will determine their priorities, programs and budgets in a manner which ensures accountability to their people. It is our rent money to invest in the conservation and development of our resources, our government, our skills, and our cultural survival.
4. That legislation be negotiated and enacted that sets forth the terms of self-government: Because of the missed opportunity in the constitutional process and our position related to aboriginal title, we believe we have no choice but to go the legislative route. For us to go this route, we have to have one principle enshrined at the outset; that the relationship agreed to will never be changed unless both parties agree to it.
5. That the legislation embody the following points:
First, the band must be recognized as the legal entity replacing the present structure which makes the federal
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs responsible. The band must be the controlling body responsible for and to its members. The legality of the band must include control over band membership.
Second, the legal entity of the band must exercise complete control over all lands and waters that are their aboriginal entitlement, including all lands and waters and all their resources now held in trust for the native people by the federal government. This control eliminates the need for the so-called trust relationship, a relationship which is actually a myth. The recent Musqueuem Appeal Court judgment clearly indicates a trust only subject to the political whims and discretion of the government in power, and in no way protects the Indian.
Third, with the establishment of control of our governments, we as new Canadians shall have the right to receive the benefit of transfer payments presently embodied in agreements between Canada and the provinces, including payments under the Canada Assistance Plan, education, law enforcement, and all others. These payments must be made directly to Indian governments who shall be fully accountable for their expenditure of the dollars transferred, similar to the existing arrange- ments with the provinces. The amount of these transfer payments would be negotiable from time to time, as is presently the case with the provinces.
Fourth, tax exemption shall be ensured for all lands, resources and activities related to Indians, both on and off existing reserves, and any lands and resources set aside in the future for Indian peoples.
Fifth, the legality of establishing other levels of Indian government would be enshrined in the legislation through recognition of the bands right to allocate powers and funding to institution levels of Indian governments, whether they be tribal, regional or national, as the band deems necessary to advance its interests.
Sixth, a provision in the legislation for a court-appointed or a third party to temporarily intervene to deal with severe financial problems, and that when the problems are cleared up, hand power back to the Indian government.
Seventh: That the development of legislation allow for the development of regional variation across the country, a flexible approach directed by the fact that Canadian governments have historically dealt with Indian people differently across the country.
I would now like to make some concluding comments.
Our submission is very clear on the need for fundamental change. Some key elements in a different approach by the
federal government have been put on the table by the Nuu-chah-nulth people. We have no illusions about the difficulty of confronting the backwardness of the bureaucratic and political mind set which our proposal will be subject to. Indeed, at this very moment, we are receiving regular reports about a number of senior DIA bureaucrats in Ottawa, which illustrate the point. The word is that senior executives think that tribal councils have gone too far in their development in B.C. There are plans under way to undercut the meagre financial resources presently available to tribal councils. At the same time, the B.C. region’s 1983-1984 operational plan calls for an increase in DIA staff to be achieved through cost savings related to the closing of student residences.
“Why?” is our question: Why are the tribal councils being threatened? The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is empowered by the band to represent them on those matters that they decide they wish tribal representation on for services they wish to have delivered through the council. It is because the tribal council is a mechanism controlled by the member bands that its influence has grown. The same holds true for tribal councils throughout most of BC. Perhaps the Ottawa boys are smarter than we think and are recognizing the fact that, as tribal councils continue to develop, they, as federal bureaucrats, have the rationale for their existence undercut. Perhaps their problem is that, when we say we want to rid ourselves of the department, they know that it is more than rhetoric. They know that we are beginning to do it and they are in the unseemly position of being made totally dispensable.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has already taken over all the functions DIA once performed in our region except for land administration. However, we have no guarantees and we have no authority over priorities, policy or related regulations. In short, we continue to be the subject of remote control, as do our member bands, by a backward bureaucratic backwater called Indian Affairs.
We need a negotiating process to be initiated during 1983 whereby the bands, through the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, can put an end to remote control. A phased process ending all DIA relationships to our people is our goal. Our target is 1988.
Our bands, and through our bands the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, seek a re-ordering of our relations with the Canadian people. We submit that the basic propositions of this paper are important steps towards that end.
The Chairman: Are there other members of the council, Mr. Watts, who want to comment before we start with the questioning?
Chief Watts: No, all our members will be answering the questions.
The Chairman: Thank you very much. We will begin, then, with questioning. Roberta, are you ready to go or would you like to wait a bit? Ready? All right. Thank you.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, this is an excellent document. It sets it out in a way we can understand and is very well justified. Unfortunately, for some of us, it confirms some of our worst fears, but I think you have hit the nail right on the head in a number of areas. I have some questions about some parts of the brief.
First of all, I would like to talk a bit about your land claim—sea and land claim, as you call it in your brief. I appreciate, as do you, that you can only have Indian self-government if you have control over resources and you have an economic base, so I am interested in that area. I know that you submitted it in October, 1980. What has happened to it since then? Why is it still sitting there? The federal government is constantly making public statements that they want to settle outstanding business with Indian people, they want to honour their obligations to Indian people and settle land claims. Could you inform the committee as to where that sits now?
Chief Watts: We are being told by the government, through the department, that the reason why this claim has not gone ahead is because these deputy ministers are studying it. They are concerned because the provincial government has not taken part in these negotiations and they want to try to move ahead on the Nishga claim before they accept these other claims.
We happen to know, through some sources in Ottawa, that they are not telling the whole truth. They are also concerned because our claim takes in the offshore. They are presently negotiating with the provincial government about the offshore resources and they do not want us to interfere with those negotiations. That is part of the reason for not validating the Nuu-chah-nulth claim and also the Haida claim, which is in exactly in the same situation as ours. We also know that they are not acknowledging our claim because they somehow think these constitutional discussions are going to have some effect on our claims.
Ms Jamieson: Are you involved in the negotiations they are carrying on with the Province of British Columbia’?
Chief Watts: No, we are not involved in too much with the provincial government.
Ms Jamieson: What is the nature of this deputy ministerial committee that is sitting on the legal opinion? My information is that there is a legal opinion being reviewed by a deputy ministerial committee, but that it has been there for some time.
Chief Watts: That is just an answer to keep parliamentarians happy. I believe Mr. Manly asked a question in the House about why these claims were not being recognized and they gave him a letter about this deputy ministers’ committee. I would venture to say that that deputy ministers’ committee has not met for over a year; I do not think they are too active, even though they are there in name.
Ms Jamieson: Your brief talks about forging an agreement with Canada. Do you see that being done through a negotiating process, with you participating as equal partners in the negotiation? How do you see that proceeding and does it take into account more than just land and sea claims?
Chief Watts: What we see is a negotiation process with the federal government. Once we have established that process with the federal government, it would be up to the federal government to advise the provincial government as to what resources are needed from the provincial government to satisfy that claim. I want to make it very clear that we are not talking about abandoning our aboriginal title. I have heard, through many, many hearings and through sitting in the House of Commons, that they always talk about the Parliament of Canada “giving” the Indians something. You cannot give us anything. We own what is here now. All you can do is recognize in your own legislation that that ownership exists. So when you talk about giving, we are prepared to sit down with the Canadian government and negotiate what part of the resources we are prepared to share with the Canadian people so that they can stay on this continent.
Ms Jamieson: Do I understand you then, Mr. Watts, to say that the negotiations would be land and sea claim negotiations, but also would extend into the political arena?
Chief Watts: Absolutely. There is no sense in negotiating a land claim settlement that does not deal with self-government. What would happen would be that we would come to a claim and then we would spend all our money and resources paying off the lawyers to fight the government, as they are doing in Alaska. It has cost them more money in Alaska right now than they received, just to try to settle their land entitlements. We are not prepared to do that. We are only prepared to go ahead with negotiations as long as they include self-government.
Ms Jamieson: Often, when we hear this position being taken—and we heard a bit of it from Ahenakew, the national chief, when he was before this committee—many people in Canada get very uptight. They think: Wait a minute, these Indians are trying to separate, they are trying break up the country. How do you answer that?
Chief Watts: I think the word was used this morning, it was “co-exist”. We want to exist as Indian people. As the gentle man said, you can do anything you want, you never can get rid of us, so you may as well co-exist with us in this country. When we say co-exist, it means living side by side, with our maintaining our language and our culture but integrated with the white man’s economic system.
Ms Jamieson: When you say integrated with the white man’s economic system, do you mean on your own terms, with your own sense of what economic development means?
Chief Watts: Yes, exactly. Economic development, to us, means community development and in order to have community development you have to have control over what goes on in your community. You have to have control over resources and you have to spell out on what terms you are going to get involved with business.
Ms Jamieson: How would you relate to the Province of British Columbia?
Chief Watts: So far, badly!
Ms Jamieson: How would you like to, in the future? If you are co-existing, you have to co-exist with the feds but you have to co-exist with the province as well, in some way.
Chief Watts: There is not much more we can do for the province, but there is one hell of a lot they can do for us and a lot of that lies in legislation. If the provincial government were really sincere in recognizing Indian rights and recognizing Indian people in this province, there are at least 100 changes they could make in their legislation that would create an environment such that Indian people could co-exist in this province.
Ms Jamieson: Do you have any evidence of their willingness to do that?
Chief Watts: Of the provincial government’s willingness? No, I cannot say I know of one piece of legislation that recognizes us or pays special attention to us.
Ms Jamieson: Do you see it as an obligation of the federal government to ensure that the provincial governments respect the rights of Indian governments?
Chief Watts: I will answer your question. But I just wanted to finish off about whether we have evidence. In fact, we have evidence as to the opposite. The gentleman over here, with the brown leather Jacket, is named Chief Art Peters. He filed a case in the BC. Supreme Court because the provincial government was going to give away a clam bed to some non-Indian people for them to start artificial clam harvesting. His band interjected in the Supreme Court of B.C. and said that according to the Constitution they had certain rights and that they did not think those beds could be given away until those rights had been decided upon. If you read the provincial governments submission to the Supreme Court, you would know that they do not like Indians, because their last statement in that case was: “We think that this case is frivolous.”
I think that is exactly what they think of us as Indian people.
Ms Jamieson: Where should the federal government be, then, when these disputes come up, when you clash with the provincial government, or other people; where do you think the federal government should be?
Chief Watts: The federal government has an obligation because of the B.N.A. Act. The lands set aside for the Indian people were a federal, a Crown responsibility. We have not seen that dissolved yet. Canada had a strong opportunity to negotiate for Indian people’s place in this country with the provinces during the Constitutional discussions But it is the same as when the railway was built; we were the first ones that came up for sale. So, rather than help us to get a stronger position in this country, they sold us out.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I am moving, then, to legislation, which you say is where you have to move, since the Constitutional process to date has not given much to Indian people. In Item 4, on page 19, you talk about a legislative route, principles enshrined, and then you talk about legislation being agreed upon by negotiation. How do you see that happening? You further go on and say it should be flexible enough to allow for variation across the country. Are you looking at regional negotiations, and then some general federal act, or just what are you thinking?
Chief Watts: The history of this country has forced us into separate corners. You just have to look at what is happening in this country. We have treaty Indians, non-treaty Indians, on-reserve and off-reserve Indians, status and non-status Indians, and I do not know how many other categories there are. You forced us into different corners. All we are saying is that we can only speak for the people that we represent here and we would like you to take a look at the things we are asking for in legislation. Now, if some other tribal group, or some other group of Indian people in the country, do not agree with us, that is fine. They would not have to fit under that legislation.
It is pretty hard for me to worry about protecting treaty rights it I do not have a treaty.
Ms Jamieson: This is my last question. On page 21 you talk about a provision in the legislation for a court-appointed, or third party, to temporarily intervene to deal with severe financial problems. I do not quite understand what you are thinking of there.
Chief Watts: That is strictly a legal matter. As soon as you ask for legislation you have to accept the total route of legislation. If you have federal legislation, it is subject to the courts. All we are saying is that we recognize that it is subject to the courts.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank Mr. Watts and the council for their presentation. I have an initial question regarding your claims. One of the unique factors of the claim that you and the other peoples on the coast have presented is that it does include aboriginal rights on the water. We have developed, over the past few years, a certain body of information regarding aboriginal rights and the land, but could you tell the committee whether or not you have any particular basis for the claim that you are making on the water?
Chief Watts: Mr. Chairman, if I may be permitted, I would like to introduce Archie Frank from the Ahousat Band, who would like to address the issue of the Polanchik Treaty and how it relates to our claim.
Mr. Manly: Which treaty is that?
Chief Watts: The Polanchik Treaty. It deals with sealing. Archie, do you wish to address the Polanchik Treaty and how it relates to our claim for the west coast?
Chief Archie Frank (Ahousat Band): Thank you, George. I am going to relate back to Captain Cook, firsthand. Then we will go back on the Polanchik Treaty. As the assembly here and the whole of Canada knows, when Captain Cook landed, he landed right in our area. That was just above Estevan Point, west of Estevan Point, and he was lost. What he wrote in his history books, which is a bona fide claim of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, was that he was surrounded by canoes and in those canoes were natives, which is the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council territory. And any man who has landed anywhere, whether it is China, Norway, or Japan, they have always been the bona fide owners because they have lived there all the time. No Japanese has had to put in a claim for his country, because he has always lived there. And that applies to aboriginal people in any nation in the world, 172 except here. African people, when the British landed, also had to tight for their claim, for that country, and that is exactly what we are
doing. The Polanchik Treaty tells us that in 1906 there was a claim put in, a treaty for hunting rights, dealing with the native people. These were sealing schooners and there was nothing but Indian hunters aboard these schooners. All the people from the west coast were not employed on those ships. Some stayed at home and some were not sealing people. But in their travels—and that is why we have a 180 to 200 mile claim on our waters—they encountered Indians as far as 290 miles offshore, hunting for seal and hunting for whale. That is why we are claiming the sea as our right, because our grandfathers travelled out that far in order to harvest the good things of the sea. I think the government has to realize that our diet never consisted of corned beef or cornflakes. Our diet came from our farm out there, the ocean. We harvested each species as it came into season, whether it was fur seal, bear seal, sea lion, halibut, pink sockeye salmon. All species have a season and you have to watch, for conservation purposes, when it is in season, to catch each season, which I do not think this society knows anything about.
Through conservation—when you landed, when we met you, you saw what resources we had due to the knowledge that we had in dealing with our resources. Today we talk about land claims, we talk about sea claims; but I tell you that when Cook landed he was the one who cut your throat. If he had not written in his history books that he was surrounded by canoes and us, I think you would have got away with it. But you cannot because it is in history books. You just have to go and do your homework and you will find it there.
Mr. Manly: Could you just give a couple more details about the treaty? This was a 1906 treaty—is that correct?
Chief Frank: The Polanchik Treaty was just to compensate the hunters who were going to be taken off their fur for the hunting season. The pelagic treaty was only one of them. There were several treaties put in to keep the Indian hunters off the hunting grounds for conservation purposes, and $9.8 million went out to compensate the hunters and the sealers, and the native Indians never got a cent although they were all native people working on sealing schooners.
Mr. Manly: Who signed the treaty?
Chief Watts: Canada, Russia, the United States and Japan.
Mr. Manly: And the purpose of the treaty was to put an end to the fur sealing industry—is that correct?—for conservation.
Chief Frank: It was for conservation purposes. The herd had declined so much so far that they had to put a stop to it for a few years, and I think that still exists because they just take what they can off the Pribilof Islands right now and there has never been any hunting done on the west coast on the islands ever since.
Chief Watts: I think the point we are trying to make is that that treaty recognized us as a nation even though it was signed by Canada. Everybody else talks about sovereignty; in that treaty we were recognized as a sovereign nation and as having the right to continue to take those seals even though these other nations agreed not to. That is the importance of that treaty.
Mr. Manly: Thank you. On another question, on pages 21 and 22 of your submission, Mr. Watts, you say that you are receiving regular reports about a number of senior DIA bureaucrats in Ottawa who think that tribal councils have gone too far in their development in B.C. and that there are plans under way to undercut the financial resources presently available. Can you give us some more information on that?
Chief Watts: Mr. Chairman, we have borrowed some documents out of Ottawa, and in those documents they have instructed the regional director of British Columbia to take a change in policy direction, that he is to start cutting back on funding to tribal councils. At the assistant deputy minister level they feel that Indian people in l3.C. have interfered too much with the operations of the department. They want Indian people kicked off screening committees for future employees. They want to cut back in the consultation funds so the department will not have to consult with the Indian people, They have asked Mr. Walkley if he is prepared to change his philosophy and direction in funding tribal councils and recognizing tribal councils in British Columbia, and if he is not prepared to change then they want his resignation or else a job transfer. They have gone as far as to say that they want Mr. Anderson from Saskatchewan to replace him because Mr. Anderson will put the people in B.C. into line in a short time.
If you want to look at some of the facts, you can get a hold of Indian Affairs and ask them for the regional budget. Last year they cut back $6.9 million in the budget, and it all has to do with the discretionary money, the money that goes to tribal councils, the money that goes for consultation, the money that goes for any Indian group who want to develop something on their own. They made the whole cutback on that, and they are proposing that this same cutback happen again in this coming year. That is out of a total budget of $18 million so they have cut back over 33% of the funds we rely upon to get away from
the department and to start heading towards self-reliance in that.
So that is the clear example of it. The rest of it I think you are going to have to question the minister about because obviously I cannot share those documents with you. We would put the person in jeopardy who gave us all that information. But I think you can ask the minister yourself. We are going to be meeting with him, and he certainly did not deny it when we confronted him and the deputy minister with all the information. I think the deputy minister stated that he was new to the job and he did not know about it all, and I said: I think you are a liar because when I read the letter it had your signature on it. I guess some of these guys sign letters without really reading what is in them.
But that is what is happening at the Ottawa level. Even though you guys are going across the country talking about self-government, the Department of Indian Affairs has in their operational plan to increase the national manpower in Indian Affairs by 300 in this coming year, and they are going to partly disguise that by closing down two residences in British Columbia. Even though they do not show those as being surplus staff, they are going to bring them back on again in numbers into the department. Plus the department in the economic development field at the national level they want to increase by 18 people in the national office and centralize all authority for economic development dollars back to the Ottawa level and take it out of the region.
Those are just some of the examples of what they are doing to us while you guys go around and talk to us about self-government.
Mr. Manly: Could you be more explicit about the cutbacks to tribal councils? Do the documents in any way indicate the reason for these cutbacks’?
Chief Watts: We have been receiving some funding under what they call core funding for tribal council meetings and to attend things like this and to attend national meetings. We receive a certain amount of core funding. What the department has done. . . and I can give you names if you want—is said to Mr. Walkley that he does not have the authority to be giving us those moneys, that Parliament has never voted the authority so he will not be able to do it in this coming year. We have said that if you do not have the authority then, fine, change the policy in Ottawa and write another directive out of the department that gives you the authority to allocate those funds to tribal councils. But they told him that as of April 1 this year tribal councils will get no money.
Mr. Manly: As of April 1 this year.
Chief Watts: As of April 1 of this year.
Mr. Manly: Are you talking about core funding?
Chief Watts: Core funding to tribal councils.
Mr. Manly: And there are no program moneys available either?
Chief Watts: According to them, according to their letter— and we will send you a copy of it—the department has no authority whatsoever to sign any agreements with tribal councils.
Mr. Manly: In addition, you said that Indian people from British Columbia would be left off screening committees. These are the screening committees that are responsible for choosing DIA personnel—is that correct?
Chief Watts: Yes. It was listed that that is one of the areas where they feel that Indian people are interfering too much with the departments operations, that they have to get them off because up to now we have been asked to sit on committees to choose people who are going to work for the department. Even though we only have one vote out of four or five, we have been asked to participate. Now they have decided that they do not even want them at that level, that they want to get rid of the Indian people on these committees.
Mr. Manly: Is this a firm directive or is this a suggestion or what is the nature of it?
Chief Watts: If you can call a letter from the deputy minister to the assistant deputy minister a firm directive, I guess it is a firm directive.
Mr. Manly: I am very surprised at that because the government has made a great deal of mileage out of saying how Indian people are supposed to be involved in the screening committees, and most of the time we have heard criticism from Indian people that they have not been involved enough, and now you are telling me that the department people are saying that you have been involved too much.
Chief Watts: Mr. Manly, if you would refer to the depart- ment’s operations, every time the minister makes a speech he talks about the percentage of funds turned over to bands and tribal groups for their administration. I think the next time the minister says that you should ask him if his economic development dollar is being turned over to the bands. They are more than happy to give you welfare dollars and let you fight with your people about welfare, but when it comes to something developmental . . . You ask them if they are turning over those dollars to us. They are not so I think the minister should quit giving these speeches about it.
Mr. Manly: One further question. On page 20 you say:
Tax exemption shall be assured for all lands, resources and activities related to Indians, both on and off existing reserves, and any lands and resources set aside in the future for Indian peoples.
Have you any suggestions as to how this should be justified to non-Indian people who are complaining about the level of their taxation?
Chief Watts: Well, if I were a non-Indian, I would be complaining about the level of taxation too.
I think the point we are trying to make is that we agreed to employment taxation only because of the war. So it is the Canadian people who are being dishonest with us. They are the ones who continued to tax us after the war after they told us that it was going to be strictly for the war effort. We have always maintained that position; that our people were never subject to income tax until we decided to get involved with your war. I think we should go back to that time.
I get disturbed when people talk to me about our rights according to Canadian public opinion. Our rights do not exist because of Canadian public opinion. It happens to be the legislator’s concern because you get elected by that Canadian public. But the fact that we have aboriginal title to this country and the fact that taxation does not exist on our reserve are our right. It does not matter what the Canadian people think.
Mr. Manly: Yes, but you are talking about off-reserve as well.
Chief Watts: Well, do not say I am talking about it. It is the government that has brought about the policy which distinguishes between off- and on-reserve Indian people. As far as I am concerned, our people live on our land. It does not matter where they live in this country.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Watts, I have a few questions as well; and I know you are busting at the seams to have a little discussion about things we talked about earlier when we had the meetings in Vancouver. I make no apologies for the questions that I have asked in the House and I have put on the Order Paper with respect to certain transfers that went from regional office to your tribal council and back to other things. That is my responsibility as a member of Parliament: when I suspect something, to check it out and to satisfy myself that nothing has gone wrong.
Chief Watts: I just wanted to make sure that our people knew who you were.
Mr. Oberle: That is right. I will not put on a mask of sunglasses. I do not have any hang-up.
But I would like to talk a little about the development and the idea of the regional forum. Now, from the outset I want to tell you that I am not totally disposed that this is not a good idea. I just wonder how that kind of an idea would fit in with what you said throughout your brief, that the authority and
the control must rest with the band councils. How, then, would the regional forum fit in with the government structure that you are trying to develop? Was that a courageous step into the future, or do you have a plan for how that would be integrated and how through the regional forum there would be a greater degree of equity and fairness in how money is distributed, not just to your tribal council but throughout the province?
Chief Watts: Mr. Chairman, because of our bad experiences with other Indian structures that have been imposed upon us and that do not have their basis with authority at the band level, we have included it on page 21. I am sorry if Mr. Oberle was not listening when we read through that part, but I will read it again.
Mr. Oberle: No, I was listening.
The legality of the establishing of other levels of Indian government would be enshrined in the legislation through recognition of the Band’s right to allocate powers and funding to institutions and levels of Indian governments— tribal, regional and national—as the Band deems necessary to advance its interests.
Mr. Oberle: Okay, it is precisely because I listened to what you said there that I asked the question. You look, then, to the regional forum as a form of government having derived powers from the band councils.
Chief Watts: I think you would have to look up the word in the dictionary—what “forum” means. I believe it means a place where you can voice your opinion and share ideas, and if necessary make a collective decision.
Mr. Oberle: Yes, but you said the transfer of powers.
Chief Watts: If we so wish. If we wanted the forum to act on our behalf on any issue, we would certainly ask for the band council resolution or whatever it may be to support that function going to them.
Mr. Oberle: Well, I have no hang-up with that at all. I just want to tell you, though, I do not make any defence of the concern I express with the regional forum. The reason I became so interested in the regional forum was I can think back, and I am sure you have been around, a couple or three years, when the regional director here got the same instructions that he now has with respect to tribal council to destroy the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs because they were getting to be too powerful. You see, they have to be reined in. And the way he did it is by calling in a few Indian leaders and starting something new; and you became complicit with this—not wantingly or willingly, but you saw a good thing, you had $345 million which was hanging out there as a carrot, and you had all this other money which was going into all these other areas—and you throw them all together, you
bring in some provincial transfer moneys, the hydro funds, and you set up an excellent Indian government structure. Great idea; except it did not have a chance to succeed the first day you even dreamt about it, because as soon as you got too powerful, then Walchli would have got orders to destroy it. That is what happened to the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Am I at least partially correct in what I am saying?
Chief Watts: Mr. Oberle, if Mr. Walchli got instructions to destroy the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, I would appreciate seeing that paper. You can show me behind closed doors, if you want.
Mr. Oberle: Well, I do not have a piece of paper that instructed . . .
Chief Watts: I will share my letters with you behind closed doors if you want, and you bring the letter about the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and we will swap.
Mr. Oberle: I do not have a letter, But whether he got instruction or whether it came out of his own devious mind really does not matter, you know.
Chief Watts: As far as the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is concerned, I will let my friend Mr. Lucas tell you why we do not sit with that organization.
Mr. Oberle: Yes, but I can show you testimony why there are a lot of people in British Columbia who would not want anything to do with the forum either. That does not necessarily mean it is entirely bad. It was certainly good for some people. It was an excellent political voice, which we used very effectively quite often in Ottawa. And incidentally, we have used the forums voice too, occasionally—because we would like to think that we are your friends. It does not appear like that at some times, I agree.
Chief Watts: You are right there.
Mr. Oberle: But we are responsible to all Indian people in the province, in fact the whole country, and every once in a while we identify some people who are making mistakes, at least in our opinion.
Chief Watts: Mr. Chairman, when I was driving down here from Port Alberni, I was wondering how Frank Oberle was going to get around to the question about the regional forum, Now I know.
Mr. Oberle: Well, that is the reason we became interested in the regional forum: because it was the tool to destroy the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Chief Watts: We pulled out the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs long before the forum was ever formed, and I think there are some other groups in BC. who would tell you the same thing,
Mr. Oberle: Tell me, was the forum your idea or was it Walchli’s idea?
Chief Watts: Was it my idea? I am not that brilliant.
Mr. Oberle: You are pretty bright. I would give you the credit for that. But when Walchli said that it was an idea that he had been pursuing for three years, was he speaking the truth, or did it come from the Indian leadership?
Chief Watts: No, I think it came from a backlash from the Indian people, that we were pushed out of being involved in the consultation process, so we decided to form our own. We were told that we were not welcome at a provincial table to discuss regional policies and that because we did not belong to the union. So it was not an idea, it was a backlash.
Mr. Oberle: It was a sort of evolution.
Chief Watts: It was a response. It was a reaction, not an action.
Mr. Oberle: Where does it stand now? Do you have any money? You said not a red nickel has changed hands of the $345 million, and I would venture a guess that none ever will. I said that a year ago. Is there any money that the forum has to—I mean in terms of economic development objectives that you had identified.
Chief Watts: About the money, we have been informed of a little more now, and I am sure it is still the carrot dangling, but now there has been a ministers committee to set up the structure of delivery of that money. There has been a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office instructing that DRIE will handle those funds. There is a letter from Mr. Axworthy’s office about setting up a national council of Indian people to decide on the allocations and structures for those funds. But I agree that not a penny has flowed yet, and I was wondering.
Mr. Oberle: So the forum really does not have any money now to pursue any economic development schemes that . . .
Chief Watts: The forum never did have funds to pursue economic development schemes. What we had was a discussion on our Regional Economic Development Corporation and that is still sitting there.
Mr. Oberle: It is still in the discussion stage? There is no money being paid into that?
Chief Watts: No.
Mr. Oberle: Another question I am interested in is that you are saying that there is a directive now—you know, this is pretty dramatic news—that there is to be no transfer of money to tribal councils. Now we want to be very careful before we fly off the handle. Is it that the money is going to the bands, and the bands are asked to transfer it back to the tribal councils?
Chief Watts: Well, I can only explain our situation. Our tribal council has taken on a number of functions from the Department of Indian Affairs. Now according to this directive, we have no legal authority to be doing these things. So I would imagine that if we get cut off funding and it does not go ahead, then those functions will have to be transferred back to the department, and they will have to increase their staff again. That is one portion of it, The other side of it that we talk about is core funding to tribal councils. Nobody is going to get it. Where it is going, in fact, is that it is going to settle the grievance with the James Bay people on their settlement. The budgets are being cut down into the different regions, and the money is being transferred to the Quebec region—that is, the $6.9 million that we are losing. So even the bands are not going to get it.
Mr. Oberle: Another thing that we hear at the department, and couched in terms of legal interpretations of the minister’s trust responsibility, some of the programs, responsibilities, that the tribal councils have assumed are inconsistent with the trust responsibility that the minister has under the act. And he is being told by the law officers of the Crown that he has rendered himself vulnerable in terms of possible prosecution. Could it be that the reason why they are reining in some of these programs is because there are really no provisions in the act. to. pass on these responsibilities? It is, therefore, an indication of how important the work of the committee is because, obviously, we want to recommend those changes in the Indian Act which would permit the assumption of important cultural programs by Indian people themselves.
Chief Watts: I would be interested in seeing those legal papers, if they do exist, giving the reason why you would have to take back those programs. We never have been told that. We were just told that the authority does not exist to fund tribal council. Also, I would be interested from a legal point as to whether or not bands do have the authority, because for our tribal council, every penny that we get has to be transferred to us through the bands. We do not get a penny without all 14 bands submitting resolutions supporting all those funds. Also, as a part of the agreement between them and the department, they also have to turn over those programs to the tribal council to administer.
Mr. Oberle: So what would be different if the bands got the money and, instead of making a band council resolution, just simply paid it to the tribal council?
Chief Watts: I believe that is what we set forth in our paper. That is what should happen. And if we want to give money to a provincial organization, the band will pay it. If they want to give money to a national organization, the bands would pay that money. That is what we say in our paper.
Mr. Oberle: All right. Mr. Chairman I have one final question and that deals with the whole question of economic development. I cannot help but think that, if you really want to
get somewhere eventually, say, in 5 years, 25 years or in 2 generations, we will have to be able to change the attitude of the average Canadian—not just that of Parliament and government. I say that because under the white man’s system, politicians react to you know, political whims. And until Canadians generally can understand the plight that you are in, we are not going to get the political pressure to make changes. So there has to be a better understanding of the situation and the conditions under which you live.
Also, as a background to my question, the population of the world will increase from 4.5 billion to 6 billion people by the year 2000. It is 4.5 billion now; it will be 6 billion by the year 2000. Four fifths of the population, or somewhat less than that, is living under starvation conditions, mostly because of a lack of resources and an improper land base. So sometimes I ask myself, as I lay awake at nights, how can we possibly, or how could we even a hundred years ago, promise our Indian people that they can live off the land and off the resources as long as the sun shines and the water flows and the grass grows? The world is getting to be such a small place in which to live that, undoubtedly all of us, including our Indian people, will have to make an adjustment to a different type of economy. Where do you stand on that?
What concerns me is the philosophical problem that you have. You say that you can integrate to the white mans economy but, really, you cannot because your soul is mother earth, and your religion is harmony with nature, and you can not separate the two. So you draw your economy from the soil, from the sea, and your religion and your soul is tied to that. So assimilating or integrating into the white man’s economy means a manufacturing economy which is away from the natural resource. Do you see a painful transition there which will actually result in diminution ;; Issue 5 – 140283 – mm:; of certain of your cultural values and integrity as you integrate into the white man’s economy?
Chief Watts: No. Not at all, because the very word that you use, integrate, means that you bring something with you. You do not just adopt the other system totally. We would have no problem at all integrating into the white man’s economic system on our basis. We would not have to go out and kill everything to make sure we get rich the first year, because this earth is made in such a way that it can sustain itself, and people can live with a certain degree of wealth. It is when you allow that search for wealth to overtake your life, that I think you are going to run into serious trouble.
The other thing you said, in talking about the 6 billion people in this world, I would say that is because they do not have the land base and the resources. I would tend to disagree with you. I would like to take a look around this earth and see where there are a lot of people living in poverty who have lots of resources but, unfortunately, they are not in their control. For instance, in some of the Central America countries. If we paid them the proper price for the goods they are exporting to
us, they would be wealthy people; instead, there is a couple of American companies that are very wealthy. But the people in those countries are not wealthy. So I disagree with you when you say that people exist in poverty because of the resouces and that which they have. They exist in poverty for the very same reason that some of our people exist in poverty.
Mr. Oberle: That is a very good point and worth repeating, but the problem with that is if we opened our borders and helped these Third World countries to develop their economies, and provided access for them to our markets, it would be our people who wopuld be starving to death. It is the unions and the socialists in the countrly which mainly prevent us from doing that. They want to close the borders and keep all the goods out and have a Canadian industrial strategy.
Chief Watts: I would like to discuss that sometime again.
Mr. Oberle: On that happy note Mr. Chairman I will finish.
Chief Watts: Another place, another time.
The Chairman: No other questions, Mr. Oberle? All right. Mr. Schellenberger? Mr. Manly, you want to rebut? Mr. Schellenberger.
Mr. Schellenberger: I have one question on No. 1 of your objectives and steps towards achieving self government. The witness before was very concerned about the term “phasing out the department.” You have stated that you are demanding that it phase out in 5 years. My difficulty when it comes to recommending is: Whom do I follow? Which brief do I follow?
Chief Watts: You follow us both, because we are both saying the same thing.
Mr. Schellenberger: Well, that is what I wanted to ask you to explain.
Chief Watts: Mr. Paul did not say that he was against the phasing out of the department. What he was scared of was that all those things that need to be put in place would not be put into place before the department go phased out; and our tribal council maintains the same position. We just happen to have a little more optimism than Mr. Paul. We think if the government is sincere and honest, it would take us five years to put all those rights and guarantees into place and then get rid of the bureaucracy. So we are saying the same thing.
Mr. Schellenberger: What type of process do you think would be necessary to do that-the process we are involved in now? Or do you see a different type of process to put those things in place?
Chief Watts: No, I think this is part of it. This committee hearing is part of that process. It is the first step in that process. If Parliament agrees that that is the right direction to go in, then obviously you have to put into place other mechanisms. What you cannot do, what has been done in the past and what is the fault, is every time the government wants to take a new direction with the Indian people, the very people they assign are the people who are the problem. They will go to the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs and they will say we want you to set up a mechanism with the Indians to get rid of the Department of Indian Affairs. Now, what chance is there of that happening?
Mr. Schellenberger: Well, I agree with that. That is why I would hope that the mechanism we are setting up now with representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, the Indian people, would be the kind of mechanism that could work in doing just that, if it were as well added to the minister’s mechanism when he had to dissolve part of his department, or all of it. I am just trying to think out loud whether, if we were to start—whether the starting point would be the delivery of services. You talked about the department being very easy in giving over the welfare part of the delivery of services to Indian bands to administer. Do you believe all of the services that are now provided to other Canadians and to Indian bands could be easily turned over to Indian people as a first step and the second step would follow along with the constitutional conferences, or are there other things that could be moved on very quickly, in your mind?
Chief Watts: I think there are things that could be moved on quickly. It is just a matter of the government accepting certain principles and that. They have always been quick to give us the bad things. We could show you the record of transfers to Indian bands. They were always quick to give us the things they were having problems with, but when it came to a discussion of rights and that, those things were stopped. For instance, there is nothing stopping the government of this country from sitting down with us right now and talking to us about a share of the salmon resource. Absolutely nothing. And you know what is happening? I will tell you what is happening. We met with the Minister of Fisheries last week, on Monday, and he said, I am prepared to sit down and negotiate a generous portion of the salmon resource with your people. What he did not tell us was that he had signed a letter the Friday before telling the Minister of Indian Affairs that he is not prepared to have the salmon resource a part of the negotiating process.
And do not ask me how know that.
Mr. Schellenberger: I guess you have answered my question, that there are ways and means of doing it and that . . .
Chief Watts: Well, honesty would be the first step.
The Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In the early part of your submission you talk about the traditional form of government, Kluquana. I would like’ to ask how large a place you would see for this concept and how it might have to evolve in the future as your Indian government is recognized by the federal government. Are there any particulanproblems with integrating this into the kind of accountability process that you accept? Are there any special problems there that we as a committee should be aware of?
Chief Watts: Obviously there are going to be certain problems. but I think we might have created a bit of a myth here in saying that this was our form of government. It still is our form of government, We still have Kluquana. The potlatch is alive and well today, The problem that we have is that when you get into certain discussions in certain jurisdictions, you have to fight with the white courts and their interfering with our jurisdiction. Now, obviously that is going to be a problem, because a number of our people have adopted a lot of the non-Indian ways. But I do not think white society, by interfering with our government, is going to resolve those. In fact, that is how the problem started: they interfered with our government.
All we are saying is that it would be very easy for the Canadian government to legislate recognition of our traditional government.
Mr. Manly: So are you saying that the present band councils could fairly easily adapt to the Kluquana form and your tribal council would have no difficulty . . . that in fact it is already based on that.
Chief Watts: I think the majority of our bands already recognize that our traditional government is the proper government for our lands, for our communities, but that we do have other forms of non-Indian government on our reserve which deal with the business outside our reserve.
Mr. Manly: On that basis, would you have any basic opposition to the idea of incorporation to do business?
Chief Watts: Oh, definitely, because when you have incorporation you are subject to all the rules and regulations that are against your local government. You just cannot live with them. They do not go hand in hand.
Mr. Manly: How would you see economic corporations being developed, then?
Chief Watts: The government right now has the power to bring in legislation which would recognize Indian corporations under the Indian Act; and they do not do it.
Mr. Manly: The question I am asking is that you are very concerned that bands should not be incorporated; and that is a concern that other Indian nations have also brought before us.
But you have also talked about forming development corporations to handle some of the economic development funds, if they ever come through. Now, could you make a distinction between those two?
Chief Watts: The only way I can distinguish the two is— again I relate back to 21: anything to do with anything that you create, the power has to be received from the bands. So if there were a development corporation, if we agreed to have a development corporation to deal with something—just this weekend we passed a motion to form a corporation to look after our fishing matters. That corporation cannot exist without the power that the bands give it. So it is the bands themselves that have wanted to create this corporation to deal with a specific issue: fishing.
Now, because we have formed that corporation, obviously we are subjecting ourselves to provincial legislation which deals with corporations. But it is at the band’s wishes. It is not that somebody is holding a hammer over our head and saying we want you to form this corporation before we give you any funding. We have decided to do that to do certain business dealings which cannot happen in our community but that happen with the non-Indian community. But our hands are the ones who will give that power over. The shares are going to be owned by the tribal council only because the bands have voted it.
Mr. Manly: I see. So it would only be for a specific economic enterprise, and . . .
Chief Watts: Only at our wish. It will not be one of imposing corporations on us.
We have a number of enterprises now on our reserves that we have refused to form corporations with, and there is no problem with them. They are not incorporated or anything and they get along. They do their business just like everybody else.
Mr. Manly: Among the powers of Indian government that you mentioned are needed is included the right to determine band membership. As you know, this is a thorny question for the House of Commons and Parliament, particularly since we have had a subcommittee that looked at the whole question of discrimination in the Indian Act and that has recommended certain changes to eliminate that discrimination, and also a program of reinstatement for people who have lost status.
The question I would like to ask is do you feel the Canadian government has any right to impose standards that the Canadian government has accepted on a universal scale; the United Nations standards of equality? Do you feel the Canadian government has the right to impose those standards on Indian bands who are managing their own membership?
Chief Watts: Absolutely not. You should know that nobody in our society has ever lost her status. You cannot be born in
Nuu-chah-nulth and somehow be knocked out of existence. You are either a Nuu-chah-nulth or you are not. So nobody in our society has ever lost status.
The issue you are talking about is the mess the government created and now they want to get out of. Well, that is their problem. That is their problem. That is not our problem. We do not have a problem, as far as I know. I have yet to see a Nuu-chah-nulth person fight with us about their status.
Mr. Manly: It is your problem to the extent, though, that there will be some kind of a fiscal relationship so that there has to be some interface between who the federal government, with its problem about status, says is . . .
Chief Watts: Okay, let us get to the heart of our paper then because that is what we talk about.
If the Canadian government decided to recognize our government, if the Canadian government recognized that they had to transfer certain moneys to us if we decided to become Canadians and then we would be treated as equal Canadians, and then, secondly, if you decided to pay off the rent that you owe us for using our country, it would not be anybody’s business how we spent that money or whom we spent it on— and we would spend it on our people. The fact that you have an Indian Act in Ottawa would be of absolutely no relevance to us. In fact, we would probably not see it any more if the department went away. So if you want to know the answer to the puzzle that the government has created, what they have to do is go back to where they started it and dissolve the whole thing.
Mr. Manly: Let us suppose that certain funds are transferred to the Nuu-chah-nulth people and some person comes forward and says to the government that they have certain claims to those funds or certain claims to the rights of the Nuu-chah-nulth people that are not being recognized by your government. Do you feel that that person should have any right to appeal to the federal government?
Chief Watts: No, none whatsoever.
Mr. Manly: If Indian bands take a different position from yours, if people who have married out have lost their status and they are no longer members of that particular nation or tribe because of the operation of the federal government’s law and because the tribe recognizes that, do you feel that these people should have any right of appeal or redress?
Chief Watts: I do not think it is up to us to comment. We have our own beliefs and we live by them. What other tribal groups or other Indians do in this country I am afraid is up to them. The very respect that we ask for is the kind we are prepared to pay to other people. We do not think anybody should interfere with our business, and we do not think we should interfere with anybody else’s business. We can only speak about how we feel about the registration or the status or whatever you want to call it of our people. That is our belief; we live by it; we think that if you are a Nuu-chah-nulth person there is no question about whether or not you are on a roll or whether or not you live in Vancouver or whether you married
another person. You cannot be changed. You were created as a person. Nobody in this world can change that. It does not matter how many papers you write or how many laws you write. We ask people to respect our position, and we will respect theirs, whatever it may be.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions?
Chief Watts: Just in relation to that, Jim, I just want to add one little piece to that.
We already do that. Where the government has decided to allocate a resource… Like, they talk about the food fish thing. Well, the fisheries officer came onto the reserve and he said: You people have to stop giving fish to the non-status Indians. So we looked around and said: Oh, are there some non-status Indians around here? Would you point them out to us? So the guy was looking around. How are you going to decide that a person is non-status? He could not figure out who was status and who was non-status. We said: Fine, thank you. He left, and we gave the fish to everybody.
Mr. Oberle: Could I ask another question? Mr. Watts, we are going to have to address ourselves to this whole question of fiscal transfers from the department to bands and tribal councils. We cannot, nor can the Auditor General, determine what criterion is used by the department to effect these transfers. Is it per capita, or any other way?
Maybe you can enlighten us here. I know, for instance, that in the 1981-82 transfer to the tribal councils your tribal council received $264 per capita for band government and the administration role, whereas the tribal council we heard from this morning, the First Nations of the South Island Tribal Council, received only $64.68 per capita for their administration. Do you have an idea of why that would be, what the difference would be? These are departmental documents on this.
Chief Watts: Yes, I would be interested in looking at them too because we have been told that we get a huge per capita amount in our tribal council. What everybody fails to look at is that when we accepted certain positions from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development those positions were cancelled. In other words, they were a transfer of dollars for staff positions. So I do not consider those to be a part of our per capita share. If other Indian groups still want the department to exist and let them keep their staff, I am afraid that has nothing to do with us.
But if you want to talk about housing dollars, education dollars and all of those dollars, I would like to see a per capita distribution in this country too. British Columbia last year I think got $119 million, and if it was on a per capita share I
believe we would have received somewhere in the neighbourhood of $148 million. So I think B.C. is getting cut a little short, whereas if you look at the per capita distribution of a strong group like Saskatchewan, who can afford to fly their chiefs back to Ottawa in a DC-9, I believe it is almost twice the amount of the B.C. Indians.
Sol think you should look into that.
Mr. Oberle: We want to; we have to. I am not saying that you are getting too much; I am saying that I want to know why the South Island group is getting less. So I take it from your comments that you are administering a number of programs that are not administered in the South Island Tribal Council. Is that right?
Chief Watts: Yes. We have a number of staff positions that they do not have, that we have taken over.
Mr. Oberle: And that would make the difference?
Chief Watts: Yes.
Mr. Oberle: Do you know whether these staff positions have been phased out in the regional department when you took them over?
Chief Watts: We never took over regional staff; we took over district staff.
Mr. Oberle: I see, and the district staff has been reduced by the numbers that you mention?
Chief Watts: By the numbers that we have. We could identify the positions that were transferred.
The only problem I can see is that when they transferred them to us they took 30% off the budget.
Mr. Oberle: From these papers—and we have to, of course, look behind the scenes—it looks as though it is not very equitable in the way that it is being distributed, as you are getting other moneys as well for . . .
Chief Watts: Well, Mr. Oberle, I believe it was Bobby Manuel who testified before the standing committee and dealt with the per capita distribution in this province. What was not told at that table was what was included in that per capita distribution. If you are going to take a settlement for a land dispute that the department paid off and include that in the band’s per capita distribution, I think you might be getting some false figures.
Mr. Oberle: No, I am just saying we have to come to grips with it.
Chief Watts: I am just referring to the figures that were given to you in Vancouver.
Mr. Oberle: Yes. Well, as you know, we did not take those as gospel.
Chief Watts: The public did when they read them.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions? I see no further questions.
Mr. Watts, on behalf of the committee I want to thank you and the members of the tribal council for the very vigorous presentation and the forthright way in which you have answered questions. I think you have certainly provided a lot of stimulation for members of the committee. There was a lot of substance in your brief. There is much here that is going to be helpful to us. There is no question about that.
It has been a profitable time that we have spent with you, and we thank you for the work that has gone into this document. It is an excellent document. I agree with what Roberta Jamieson said in her opening remarks.
If between now and the fall when we report to Parliament there is additional input that you want, the door is always open. We are pleased to receive any more data that you may want to share with us.
For today, we express our gratitude for the effort that has gone into this document and for your presence here with us. Thank you.
Chief Watts: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to present our paper. I can only say that we will continue to practise our government and we will continue to be Nuu-chah-nulth people, and what this committee can do if they so wish is to recommend to Parliament that the Canadian government start recognizing that we do exist as a people in this country. I think, in all honesty, we would like to be Canadians one of these days.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Watts.
We are now going to take a short recess, the reason being that the next presentation is from the Kwakiutl Tribal Council and they want to commence with the showing of a film, which will take a little while to set up. I think the film runs for about 50 minutes. They need 15 minutes to set up.
We will reconvene in 15 minutes.
The Chairman: Order, please. I will now call on Mr. Basil Ambers, who is chairman of the executive of the Kwakiutl Tribal Council, to introduce the film. We will see the film, and then will hear the brief from the Kwakiutl Tribal Council, before concluding with some questions. Mr. Ambers.
Mr. Basil Ambers (Executive Chairman, Kwakiutl District Council): Mr. Chairman, before I begin I would like to introduce our panel here, the members of the Kwakiutl District Council. On my extreme left I have Chief Allen Chickite and Willie Walkus, who is the councillor for Tsulquate. Also with us today is our Secretary, Leanne Easton, and
our Assistant Administrator of the Kwakiutl District Council, Wedlidi Speck, as well as the Chief of the Turner Island Band, John Smith. On my right, I have Jim Wilson, Jr., one of the councillors of our bands, and the chief of the Kwakiutl band from Fort Rupert, David Hunt.
I would really like to take this opportunity to thank Wilson Bob for the opportunity to come to his beautiful country. I think it is only appropriate that we understand the tribal boundaries of our people and we feel it is an honour to come to this beautiful village.
So Mr. Chairman and hon. members of the Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development, welcome to beautiful Vancouver Island and Nanoose. I take this opportunity to again thank the South Island Tribal Nations for allowing us to come onto their land for the purpose of addressing the subcommittee’s terms of reference. I further thank the subcommittee for giving us the time to address our concerns and insights on Indian self-government.
When addressing your subcommittees Indian self-government terms of reference, we do so with guidance from Kwakiutl Aboriginal Title, the Assembly of First Nations declaration of treaty and aboriginal rights principles, and the principles from the Treaty and Alliance of Friendship and Mutual Respect among the Indian nations of Canada. From our creator we received an oral constitution act called Aboriginal Title.
Our constitution act is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of the Creator and the rule of law, Indian law and Kwakiutl law. From our constitution comes the right to Indian government and self-determination. If I put the latter right derived from Aboriginal Title into your subcommittee’s terms of reference, I would say Indian self-government. More importantly, your committee must realize too, we speak only for our own people, the Kwakiutl.
We cannot isolate Indian self-government from constitutional, legislative and increased funding changes, nor can we depend on self-government models to come from far-away cities and bureaucrats. Self-government to the Kwakiutl is a collective community spirit building upon a community self-concept. It is reaching for “whole health”. It is strengthening the family; building a better future for our children. Its basic goal is to rebuild our social organizations that lie torn in the wake of government policy.
We are taking the assumption that the subcomittee is not aware of who the Kwakiutl are, other than being one group of Indians living on the northwest coast. Today we intend to change that. As part of our presentation we intend to describe who we are, where our land is, how we perceive the climate, our history with government and Indian acts, Indian policy impact, budgetary problems, and describe to you how we see the subcommittee helping us to achieve Indian self-govern-
ment. We want you to get inside our heads. We want you to see what makes us a people uniquely different from others and how we see ourselves as leaders, having seen the good of our past, anguish for the present, and hope for the future.
To prepare the subcommittee for the Kwakiutl, we intend to show the film Potlatch. The film documents an -important time in our history, a time when our social organization, the life-blood of any people, was put on trial. You will see people giving stories who experienced the trial, memories still strong of frustrations against Indian policy. In conclusion you will know that we survived and are in the construction stages of rebuilding old but important integrated social organizations.
Following the film we would like a 10-minute coffee break before proceeding with our presentation.
I would like to take a few more minutes to describe the definition of potlatch. We call potlatch “passapa”. The reason I brought that to your attention is that it is very apparent to us that you need to know the importance of our culture to us with the importance of what happened to us as a people after the disintegration of potlatch.
Potlatch: We use sacred whistles to give the first sign to our villagers that the winter ceremonial was about to begin, the potlatch. The first whistles were blown near midnight, then for the next few days important procedures were followed that would eventually bring the family or (inaudible – Editor) tribal nation into a new psychological and physical world; as the old people refer to it, the “real world”.
Winter was chosen as the time for potlatch because the world around us had taken new form; it was still silent and between the season of dying and spring, the season of new life. It was a time that followed the dropping off of salmonberry bush leaves, geese having gone south, the salmon having returned to their homeland and having completed their life cycle. We entered this new world through our masks, dances and songs. We filled the space with sending the spirits of the dead on, reliving our geneological history and relationship to the Creator. We also reaffirmed our relationships and treaties to the living world, meaning that we reaffirmed our respect to living spirits and all living forms on earth.
There was also an economic importance to the potlatch. Preceding the potlatch season, the family, tribe and a nation had harvested essential resources that would now be expended in the potlatch.
The potlatch was also a forum which the Kwakiutl used as a political institution. Intertribal marriage was an important part of this process. Reaffirming intertribal families, family ties, was another. It was essential to have political support in case of war.
Since contact, the potlatch has taken new form. It was outlawed in 1884 and challenged by Indian policy. This will be
seen in the film. Our people went to jail, and because of a perpetuakoppressive Indian policy we are still in jail, a psychological Jail. That is why we are here today: to address Kwakiutl Indian self-government, the road to recovery.
(Film presentation follows)
The Chairman: Mr. Ambers, after having viewed that very interesting and informative film, I think we are ready now to proceed with your document. How do you wish to handle it?
Mr. Ambers: Mr. Chairman, we are going to break the presentation up into different parts and it will be given by different members of our group.
The Chairman: All right.
Mr. Ambers: During the question period, too, we would ask that you address me and we will determine who we think should answer.
The Chairman: All right, if you would just introduce the members as they come to the part they will handle, we would appreciate that.
Mr. Ambers: Okay.
I will go on now to describe the Kwakiutl people. In its broadest application, the term “Kwakiutl” is used to designate a large number of tribes on the Pacific north-west coast of British Columbia between the fiftieth and fifty-fourth parallels, the most northerly being the Haisla at the head of Douglas Channel and the most southerly to the Lekwiltok of Cape Mudge, Campbell River and Comox. Properly speaking, Kwakiutl is the name of the Kwakiutl tribe of Fort Rupert. All of these tribes compose one branch of the so-called Wakashan linguistic family; the other being the Nootka tribes on the western side of Vancouver Island and Cape Cook. However, it must be understood that the name “Kwakiutl” was given broad application by pioneer anthropologists, and some resist its application to their family or tribe. Most younger people have accepted the name for cultural and political benefit. Even so, in contemporary times and for the record, “Kwakiutl” is to designate a cultural and political grouping of tribes located in the area anthropologically known as the southern Kwakiutl territory. With respect to language, there exists Kwak’wala, Lek’wala and Comox.
The physical characteristics of the Kwakiutl territory: Our territory is as diverse and remarkable as the people who occupy it. Innumerable fiords cut deeply in through our mainlands. The shores are steep and rocky, even mountainous. Sand bars and beaches lay scattered throughout river systems and bays. Beneath our huge coastal mountains lie glaciers, lakes, and Kwakiutl villages which are cuddled and protected
by remaining cedar, fir and spruce trees. Islands and islets dot our vast territory and are protected from winds and sea by Vancouver Island and the mainland. Caves, petroglyphs, pictographs and lichen cover cliffs, finger printing the relationship between the Creator and our people, our people and nature, and our people and historical occupation.
The climate: In winter the territory is covered with dense cloud and fog. The forests vibrate mystery and dampness. Thick snow covers the mountain tops and occasionally crawls down to our villages. The winter brings plenty of rain. Spring is a vibrant time with geese heading north, salmonberry bushes budding, and a sweet smell of ocean. The Kwakiutl are active in preparing—repairing hooks, lines, nets and floats. When summer arrives, salmon return to our streams, rivers and creeks. The sun is beating down on the mountain tops and the snow is melting and racing down to replenish the streams and lakes. The Kwakiutl have salmon drying on rocks and in the smoke-houses. Early morning fog covers the land and creates images of dancing spirits. The sounds of fishermen hard at work bring curiosity and splendour. Fall brings cool air. The geese are leaving again while the bucks are duelling for leadership. The wind has switched from the west to the southeast and funnels through the channels, narrows and valleys. The nights are dark again and an animal quiet covers and lurks over our forests. Soon whistles will break the air and the Kwakiutl will bring out our ancient dance masks and ancient ancestor spirits.
The next part of our presentation will be delivered by the chief of the Kwakiutl tribe, Dave Hunt.
Chief David J. Hunt (Chief of the Kwakiutl Tribe): Kwakiutl—government relations:
We feel we must address the historical relationship our people have had with the government to demonstrate to your subcommittee that Indian self-government meant more and means more now than what the Canadian government’s Indian policy and current legislation can provide. We agree that there needs to be legislative changes. However, we will point out that unless the text of Indian policy changes, no legislative change will be adequate. We ask this question: Is a new Indian Act enough? The Kwakiutls do not believe it to be enough. Concentrating on legislative changes are short-term solutions to a long-term problem. The real problem rests in constitutional recognition of our aboriginal title and rights from title. If Indian policy and legislation is to help Indian self-government, there must be constitutional protection for this development and right. Without it there is no guarantee that incoming governments will not change the Indian Act legislation and redefine Indian self-government —a political phenomenon we have experienced in the past.
In our effort to qualify our concerns over historical to present relations, it is necessary to focus on the Indian Act, which has been the basis of our relationship with government for the past 100 years. It is a consolidation of Indian policies that have deep roots in Canadian history, has grown against Indian self-government and is colonial and oppressive. This portion of our presentation will give an historical prologue to the 19703, a prologue that will culminate with the government’s 1969 white paper on Indian policy. We will express our deepest concern over the changing form of Kwakiutl government relations which have become embodied in legislation, bureaucratic agencies, and more nebulous policy goals. Our basic fear rests with not seeing changes in the text of Indian policy attitudes of government.
Historical background to the 1876 Indian Act: As early as 1670, the British government passed legislation that placed the conduct of Indian affairs in the hands of the colonial governors and. laid out what was to be the principal components of British policy for the future: (a) protection of Indian people from unscrupulous whites; (b) introduction of Christianity; and (c) an activist role for the Crown as a protector of Indians.
A milestone in British policy, and hence the Canadian policy that eventually followed, was the Royal Proclamation of 1763. That proclamation
. . . laid the foundations of four great principles which became embedded in Canada’s treaty system: that the Indians possess occupancy rights to all land which they have not formally surrendered; that no land claimed by Indians may be granted to whites until formally surrendered; that the government assumes the responsibility of evicting all persons unlawfully occupying Indian lands; and that surrenders of Indian land may be made only to the Crown, and for a consideration.
The royal proclamation not only recognized aboriginal rights to the land but also established the government as a middleman in the settlement process; the transference of land from Indians to the incoming flood of whites could only come about through the intervention of the government. Surrounding the 1763 proclamation, Indian policy was preoccupied by the need to maintain Indians as military allies. Treaties and documents referred explicitly to the Indians as allies, and Indian policy “sought aid or neutrality from Indians in war, and their friendship in peace”. As a matter of fact, the Indian department formed in 1755 was an arm of the colonial military, with the Superintendent General reporting directly to the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces. The department remained in military hands until 1799 when civil authority was established.
The evolution of early Indian policy reflected the missionary activities of the churches and climate of social reform in
Britain in the early 1800s. For example, in 1838, Lord Glenelg, British Colonial Secretary, established “civilization” and “protection” as the guiding principles of British policy. He stated that the primary goal of British policy was “to protect and cherish this helpless race . . . (and) raise them in the scale of humanity”.
To achieve these goals, missionaries encouraged the permanent settlement of Indian villages where the instruments of civilization and Christianity—schools, churches, and industry-could be brought into effect. The eventual aim was the assimilation of Indians into the general society. These religious and reformist inputs provided the “moral premise” of Canadian Indian policy.
I.W. Powell, Indian Superintendent, in his annual report to the Right Honourable, The Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Ottawa 1881, stated that:
The Anglican Church Mission Society (moved) its mission post (and) school from Fort Rupert to Alert Bay. That Reverend Mr. Hall has a day school which he is endeavouring to make a success; and Mrs. Hall (is) most devoted in aiding mission work, has started a resident school for girls, where in addition to the usual routine of day school it is the intention to teach the girls domestic economy . . . and proper religious indoor training and isolation from the debasing influences of camp life.
In 1855, the first Canadian acts were passed to protect Indian land from trespass. All Indian land and property came under the control of a commissioner of Indian lands, who could exercise and defend all rights of the landowner, including the right to lease land and collect rents. A year later, additional legislation indirectly excluded from Indian status whites living among Indians and non-Indian males married to Indian women. Thus, important Canadian precedents began to be set, such as this one, distinguishing between status and non-status Indians, that would eventually be incorporated in the Indian Act of 1876.
In 1856, two special commissioners were appointed by the colonial government to report on objectives that were to serve as the mainstay of public policy in the following years:
the best means of securing the future progress and civilization of the Indian tribes in Canada
the best mode of co-managing the Indian property as to secure its full benefit to the Indians, without impeding the settlement of the country,
In their report, the commissioners were optimistic about the eventual civilization and assimilation of the Indian people and predicted the end of the Indian department.
A year later, in 1857, the colonial government introduced legislation that clearly set out the assimilationist character of public policy. The preamble to the act, for the “Act for the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Canadas”, read as follows:
Whereas it is desirable to encourage the progress of civilization among the Indian Tribes in this Province, the gradual removal of all legal distinctions between them and Her Majesty’s other Canadian subjects, and to facilitate the acquisition of property and of the rights accompanying it, by such individual members of the said Tribes as shall be found to desire such encouragement and to have deserved it
The act offered monetary, property and enfranchisement inducements to Indians who would choose assimilation and cut their ties with tribal societies, inducements that were to remain important components of Indian policy for the next 100 years.
The importance of the 1876 act was that it pulled together existing legislation and policy directives and cast them in a document that was to dominate Indian affairs for the next century. For Indians, the act is of great importance because it touches, and not lightly, virtually every aspect of our lives. As Dr. Munro, former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Indian Affairs branch describes it:
The Indian Act is a Land Act. It is a Municipal Act, an Education Act and a Societies Act. It is primarily social legislation, but it has a very broad scope; there are provisions about liquor, agriculture and mining as well as Indian lands, Band membership and so forth. It has elements that are embodied in perhaps two dozen different acts of any of the provinces and overrides some federal legislation in some respects… It has the force of the Criminal Code and impact of a constitution on those people and communities that come within its purview.
Legislative Development of the Indian Act: The Indian Act was not carved in stone and was subjected to much legislative fine-turning and amendment. Throughout, however, its basic features were not altered and the legislation governing Indian affairs in the 1970s bore a close resemblance to the act passed in 1876. For example, in 1880 an amendment to the 1876 act declared that:
an Indian with a university degree would ipso facto be enfranchised and therefore no longer be an Indian under the Act.
Four years later, the Indian Advancement Act transformed tribal regulations into municipal laws and tried to introduce a limited system of band self-government. In 1884, the act was amended to declare the potlatch illegal. Anyone participating in the potlatch could receive two to six months’ imprisonment. In 1885, the Electorial Franchises Bill gave the vote, under very limited conditions, to a small number of Indians, primarily assimilated Indians in central Canada.
The amendments to the Indian Act in 1889 demonstrated a move to greater government control over Indian education, morality, local government and land. For example, the government was given the power to override a bands reluctance to lease reserve land. Superintendent General Daly advised the House of Commons that the amendment would overcome a band’s refusal to lease reserve land “through spite or pique”, terms that were left undefined.
In 1920, the Conservative government, led by Arthur Meighen, displaying insensitivity to minority views, passed legislation empowering the government to order the enfranchisement of qualified Indians without any such request from the Indians concerned. Two years later, the Liberal government removed the power of compulsory enfranchisement, only to have the power reinstated by the Conservatives in 1933.
The most substantial changes occurred in 1951, with the passing of a new consolidated Indian Act. The 1951 act, like its predecessors, was designed to promote the integration of Indians into the mainstream of Canadian society. The main features of the 1876 legislation have not been altered, although the revised act reduced the degree of government interference into cultural affairs. The outlaw of the potlatch was repealed, Indians were now allowed to consume alcohol in public places, and the 1933 provision that allowed an Indian to be enfranchised without consent was dropped, as was the 1927 ban on political organizing.
One change of major symbolic significance occurred in 1960, when legislation prohibiting residents of reserves from voting in federal elections was repealed. Enfranchisement ceased to be held out as an enticement for assimilation. We could be both an Indian and a full-fledged Canadian.
Although the Indian Act has been subjected to frequent review and amendments since 1876, the end of the 1960 act does not differ greatly from the original form. Throughout the years the department’s goals have prevailed, preventing any real, fundamental reconstructing of the act.
The 1969 White Paper: On June 25, 1969, the Honourable Chrétien, Minister of Indians Affairs and Northern Development, tabled a statement of the Government of Canada on Indian policy. As the white paper, Government of Canada, stated:
The government believes that its policies must lead to full, free and non-discriminatory participation of the Indian people in Canadian society. Such a goal requires a break with the past. It requires that the Indian people’s role of dependence be replaced by a role of equal status, opportunity and responsibility, a role they can share with all other Canadians.
The paper also stated that Indians were to receive the same services as other Canadians and these were to be delivered through the same channels and from the same government
agencies as serviced other Canadians. The unique federal government responsibility for Indians was to end.
Prime Minister Trudeau was one of the most articulate defenders of the white paper. In Vancouver, on August 8, 1969, shortly after the white paper had been released, he stated:
We can go on treating the Indians as special status. We can go on adding bricks of discrimination around the ghetto in which they live and at the same time perhaps helping them preserve certain cultural traits and certain ancestral rights. Or we can say you’re at a crossroads—the time is now to decide whether the Indians will be a race apart in Canada or whether it will be Canadians of full status. And this is a difficult chore . . . It’s inconceivable, I think, that in a given society one section of the society have a treaty with the other section of the society. We must all be equal under the laws and we must not sign treaties amongst ourselves . . . What can we do to redeem the past’? I can only say as President Kennedy said when he was asked what he could to to compensate for the injustices that the negroes had received in American society. “We will be just in our time.” This is all we can do. We must be just today.
Cardinal charged that the new Indian policy was:
a thinly disguised programme of extermination through assimilation
that the white paper postulated that:
the only good Indian was a non-Indian.
Indians, nation-wide, shared this concern and, as history shows, Indian leaders, nation-wide, rejected the white paper policy. It was only through Indian and growing public concern that the white paper was shelved.
The 1969 White Paper versus the Hawthorn Report: In 1964, the Minister of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration asked that a study be undertaken of the contemporary situation of the Indians of Canada, with a view to understanding the difficulties they faced in overcoming some pressing problems and their many ramifications. In content, the Hawthorn report was the first and only national survey of the conditions of Indians in Canada.
The Hawthorn report contained 151 recommendations on how Indian economic, political, educational and welfare conditions could be improved.
From the outset, the report argued for citizen-plus status for Indians. He recommended that the department has a special responsibility to see that the plus aspects of Indian citizenship are respected and that governments and the Canadian people
are educated in the acceptance of their existence. The report very clearly stated that integration or assimilation are not objectives which anyone can properly hold for the Indians. The Hawthorn report recommended the retention of the modified Indian Act; the white paper sought the Indian Act’s abolition. Both agreed, however, that provincial services should be extended to Indians and that the exclusive federal responsibility for Indian affairs should be discontinued. Hawthorn argued that constitutionally nothing prevented the province from providing its services to Indians.
Nonetheless, a lot can be learned from the contrast in documents and insights into Indian needs. Particular focus might stay on the deep-rooted Indian policy attitude. How you change old attitudes and policy will not be easy. We feel your subcommittee needs to broaden its focus on Indian self-government and undertake a study of the culture of policy-making in government, a study that might conclude with ways to change oppressive attitudes.
We cannot weigh the impact of past and present Indian policy in a limited fashion. Testimony to its impact rests in Indian peoples’ social disorganization, mortality rates and anguish over the fate of alcoholism.
Mr. Ambers: Indian policy impact will be delivered by Wedlidi Speck.
Mr. Wedlidi Speck (Special Assistant, Kwakiutl District Council): Good afternoon. Happy Valentine’s day to the ladies.
There can be no denying that our people with their past social, political and spiritual organizations were better off than today. There can be no denying that revival of these institutions by Indian people will bring better health and strength. In his report to the federal government, Dr. Goldthorpe stated:
It is clear that the Kwakiutl were a lot healthier before the last century. Their health has declined with suppression of the language and culture, with the anti-potlatch laws, with compulsory schooling away from the home, family and language, with disrespect by powerful whites for their social and political institutions, with assimilationist assumptions that they should join in general Canada or B.C. social and political institutions and forget their own.
To what extent the efforts of your subcommittee can help revive our health and strength will depend on your willingness to recognize your past and the fact that health has less tangible dimensions, not demonstrable by death or disease statistics, yet just as real and possibly more important. It is whole health involving spiritual, social and mental aspects of the life of the individual and community. It is health as strength, as togetherness, as harmony with the universe, as self-esteem, as pride in self and group, as self-reliance, as coping, as joy in living.
Recognizing Canada’s past is to realize whose Indian government policy you are making. Is it for government or is it for Indian people? If policy development is not directed for the benefit of our self-government development, reaching whole health is slim. in the effort to pick up the pieces of our family and community social organizations, we redeveloped old and proper traditional political institutions, such as band councils, hereditary and kinship systems, intertribal councils and committees. Contrary to the colonial belief, we historically had all these in place. We have taken the real Kwakiutl course needed to strengthen our community spirit. As a starting point, we have held public forums in which to perform a social organization examination. The Goldthorpe inquiry was one. Following that, we held a five-day exploratory conference to ask band members of the Kwakiutl nation to talk back. It was a consultative process to take what we learned from the inquiry into the general membership for response. The response was good. Whole health is Kwakiutl. It has always been the spirit that guided our people. They clearly urged our leaders to use the spirit of whole health in the quest for self-government.
To perform an examination of our potlatch system, we have held several old people conferences. It soon became clear that our tribal nations were made up of families—numayms, as Basil mentioned earlier—and that in order to perform the potlatch properly we needed the strength of the family. The potlatch was family, tribe and nation. It was the key link in interfamily, tribal and national political organizing.
On account of Indian policy weakening our institutions, our leaders have used a modified form of political organizing. We have created the Kwakiutl District Council. The main purpose of the Kwakiutl District Council is to help member bands seek Indian self-government. In addition, the council acts in an advisory, planning and band training role. In its young stages, the district council has played more of a political role, monitoring outside community efforts to interfere with Indian self-government. Supplementing the bands’ community development, the district council has developed plans for band salmon enhancement program related projects. In fact, a detailed 15-year resource management plan for the Kwakiutl district has been completed. In addition, an experimental housing project is under way in two communities.
Not all of our activities have been focused on challenging old Indian policy attitudes and trends. Our bands are supporting a traditional co-operative approach to self-government.
We have to ask ourselves one more important question: Can conscious effort revive Indian culture? Would a revival of Indian culture result in better health’? I believe it would. The question is: To what extent is it feasible?
When we get down to the finer points of cultural revival feasibility, we have to assess the political and financial impact on government and the department. To what extent is Canada willing to let Indian people go with Indian self-government? Is there too much money involved in administering Indian people to change? We see clear check and balance problems. However, we must weigh whole health against government job
protection and control over our lives. For the sake of the public purse, so should the government.
Whole health—the road to self-government:
The whole health concept . . . the community views health in its largest sense as the well-being and balance of spirit, mind and body with no one of these having greater importance and that is very, very important.
George Campbell presented a whole health paper at the health inquiry in Alert Bay.
When we address self-government, we address whole health. We see whole health coming from a balanced recovery program that encompasses constitutional, interim legislative, and some major financial changes. From our many self-examination forums we have learned that the community must develop its own integrated whole health plan, custom made for our community environments. The building blocks of self-government have to be guided by the spirit of whole health and a community-based plan. We say this in contrast to having depended on whole health and self-government plans that are prepackaged models from Ottawa. They never work in our grass-roots communities. We say this for the simple reason that the community is prevented from growing with the developmental process of self-government, an essential process for establishing a good quality of life. We say this in contrast to settling for an improved standard of living. If you have a good quality of life, spiritual health, mental health and bodily health are addressed. From there, a standard of living will fall into place.
An important building block of whole health for the Kwakiutl is putting order back into our family or numaym structures. Strengthening our families means strengthening Indian self-government. From our families came our history, our anguish for the present conditions and our hope for the future. Before oppressive legislation unassembled our family units, membership was not the question. Family social organizations were built around names and distinct family law. Some of our families want legislative changes so that families are recognized and are able to survive. That should be a family’s choice, a band choice, a Kwakiutl choice—not the governments choice.
Kinship systems are a real part of community life. They play a real part in band council systems today. In essence, what our families did was to go underground at the enforcement of the Indian Act. For those bands who want a traditional family numaym ward system in local government, the opportunity should be available to them without having to sneak around. This is said in contrast to depending on the custom system. Family status and Indian status are not protected in the custom system.
Following putting order to our families will come good community self-concept. What is meant by that is Indian identity. In Kwakiutl culture, genealogy is the key factor in establishing a good self-concept. Families are then able to teach their children a sense of belonging, usefulness and purpose. Genealogy is also a key factor in changing the apathy associated with the culture of the poor. With Kwakiutl families
there is a history, an ancestor, a revelation that was given by our Creator, land, a method of land use, resources, and economics. It is a family social organization, family law and strength. It means before you go into the community you have a balance of spirit, mind and body. If there was ever a change needed in present legislation, it would be to protect our families.
It is hard for us, the young and old leaders of the Kwakiutl, to imagine living in a free Indian society. It is hard and painful for us, on the other hand, to look at the poverty and mortality of our people and, on the other hand, see whole health within grasp and yet, because of old, deep-rooted oppressive attitudes, our dream seems so far away. It is so important for us that the subcommittee see the fine principles of whole health as it relates to Indian self-government, of seeing growth in the community encouraged, its willingness to self-discover its capabilities and dreams. We fully realize we need your help to the degree of changing Indian policy attitudes. That is an unfortunate reality.
Mr. Ambers: The legal protection part of our presentation will be given by Chief John Smith.
Chief John Smith (Turner Island Band): Thank you, Basil.
Whole health and self-government is a fragile freedom. It can be controlled by oppressive governments, as we have demonstrated. Whole health can be defined in a limited way to mean administration of existing programs under existing legislative rules. Existing programs are the custom-made models from Ottawa that will not work in the community.
We cannot accept such a limited interpretation. We say that “whole health” will remain fragile until we have aboriginal title entrenched into our Constitution Act 1982. Aboriginal title, as we mentioned in our introduction, is the Kwakiutl Constitution Act. It is an oral constitution built on the principles that recognize the supremacy of our Creator and the rule of law—Indian law, Kwakiutl law. From our constitution came various rights that give us the right to Indian government and Indian self-determination—Indian self-government. We fully realize that to address aboriginal title is to address the Section 37 conference and constitutional matters. In our analysis of your terms of reference, we believe that it is your main responsibility. If we do not have the protection for our self-government spirit, we argue that there is no guarantee that Parliament, in time, will not redefine Indian self-government and “whole health”.
Aboriginal title is important in that its broadest meaning is recognizing our ownership and political, cultural and spiritual evaluation over our land and waters. We fully realize that both governments have problems with title. How we break through the wall is not going to be easy to see. We only have two treaties that were made between our Kwakiutl and Kweka tribes with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1851. It is held by our chiefs that the Hudson’s Bay Company recognized Indian title and entered into a treaty to extinguish certain rights from that title. We have signed no more treaties. Although a plethora of regulations intimidate our land and water use, we
stay with the belief of ownership over land and waters, and that our right to the land, water, and resources come from our oral Constitution Act (aboriginal title).
We fully realize that defining rights from title will take a long time; that the Section 37 Conference will not be able to achieve this. Before going on, we would just like to ask a pointed question, which is this: How can you define rights from title when you are not addressing title? It seems to us that, because the majority of the country is under treaty, title is being avoided at the expense of the Kwakiutl people. We will say it again, we are non-treaty. It is our expresed opinion that once title is recognized, the definition of rights will be easy. The process of defining rights from title will mean translating oral rights into written—of writing our own Constitution Act. Only each family, tribe and tribal nation, will be able to do that, from the community outward.
Kwakiutl Land Claims: From the outset you must understand that Kwakiutl land claims involve aboriginal title, Indian government and Indian self-determination . . . self-government. Land claims to us does not mean merely extinguishment of land water rights and cash compensation. It is more than that. We cannot separate use and occupany from Indian self-government. From title comes Indian government. From Indian government comes Indian self-determination. Included in this self-determination is land use, planning, and management. The order has come to us from the Creator. That is the order we must follow, according to the ancient laws of our people.
Upon completion of land claims, the Kwakiutl see community-based and tribal-based land use, planning and management concepts as the central approach for territorial land use and management. Our perspective of land use and management is integral to achieving “whole health”. If our land is managed well, the land and water will be healthy. We will be healthy. The Indian governments will be healthy.
Strengthening Indian Band Governments—Changes to the Indian Act: Ironically, the Indian Act has protected some Indian people’s status and Indian land, but, as pointed out before, to our self-government’s disadvantage. We can, through interim changes, eliminate many disadvantages to enable our bands to reconstruct their family and tribal social organizations. There must be, however, a preamble which states that the act will change as bands develop from the community outward. There must be recognition that the Kwakiutl have not extinguished our title to the land.
There must be the ability for bands to develop by-laws without having to get permission by applying to the minister.
Bands should be able to enforce their own by-laws.
Bands should be able to develop economically without government control over money.
Bands should have multi-year, non-lapsing funding commitments, and less accountability to government.
Policy and Expenditure Management System: This portion Will be delivered by Wedlidi Speck.
Mr. Speck: While addressing funding to bands and band accountability to membership, we find it necessary to look at the government’s policy and expenditure management system, as well as the band’s accountability to government.
To begin with, the government’s policy and expenditure management system has its principal features carved into the legal and institutional framework of the Canadian Constitution. Unfortunately, so does the legal status of Indians. Under the circumstances, we are currently obliged to follow the expenditure management guide and follow other authorities relating to accountability and financial planning. Today we ask this question: Is the policy and expenditure management system appropriate for Indian self-government?
Integrating policy and “resource envelopes” in theory is good. In fact the resource envelope system is workable. The multi-year operational plan concept is responsible management. However, the philosophy of the expenditure management system is drenched with old-rooted colonial objectives. For instance, Canada’s Policy and Expenditure Management Guide states very clearly that the systems are:
. . . in place to enable departments and agencies to conduct forward strategic and operational planning; to control their activities, and to ensure that they are achieving the desired results.
Although the envelope system and multi-year planning have developmental advantages for band councils, the “control” and protective attitudes take away these advantages. Accountability for the expense of band moneys must be to the community, not government. As indicated earlier, it is the community that must develop its own designed community plans and grow with the developmental process. Accountability is a natural part of this process.
Bands need more flexibility in accounting to the government for funds. There should be an agreement of transfer and audit—this being only an interim measure until the band has further developed its fiscal relationship with the communities. The agreement of transfer should be very encouraging and general. For all aspects of funding, the bands should be able to use the continuing appropriation authorities principle of non-lapsing funding. Indian Affairs should no longer act as a policeman demanding the quarterly reports from our bands. The quarterly reports should go to the community. The audit on the other hand, can make its way through the ranks. Because it is our bands choice to develop tribal council-wise,
the tribal councils should continue to help bands with band training until the community is on its feet. The tribal council should continue to act in the advisory role, planning, and to assist in self-government development. Similar funding agreements should be made with tribal councils.
Local band government workers should be recognized as civil band servants. Funding levels should be scaled according to regional non-Indian civil servant scales. There should be increases in core funding and overhead.
Consideration should be taken immediately on the British Columbia Regional Operational Plan. Funding to tribal councils will be discontinued, if Ottawa fails to accommodate the need. Our bands will suffer greatly.
Accompanying the legislative modifications is the much-needed economic and community development moneys. For simplicity sake, the moneys should be funnelled through Indian Affairs. There are many Kwakiutl bands which have developed detailed marine-orientated, integrated, community plans—marine orientated because the sea is our life. Two bands with large integrated economic development plans are the Campbell River Band with their marina project, and the Fort Rupert Band—the Kwakiutls—with their integrated campsite project. Both are sound means for being the economic base for these communities.
With respect to community and then economic developmental planning, we would like to mention three bands who have suffered greatly from the department’s amalgamation and relocation policy. They are Village Island Band, Turnour Island and New Vancouver Band. To minimize the administrative delivery of services, the department encouraged these bands to “come into” main centres like Alert Bay and Campbell River. In an effort to recreate community self-government, these bands are wanting to move home and establish economic bases. As one of his recommendations to the federal government, Dr. Goldthorpe stated:
. . .that the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and Indian band councils, make commitments in principle to, and do everything possible to create the economic and social conditions for the survival and growth of Indian communities of Northern Vancouver Island, adjacent islands and mainland, and the re-population, should Indian people wish it, of the deserted villages such as Village Island.
Such moves would require huge sums of money—mone which is not available through 1983-1984 to the 1986-1987 budget. If these bands are to achieve the self-government goals and whole health, we must make the commitment in principle and then proceed to encourage band councils. Supplementary money must be found.
We are aggressively opposed to large sums of Indian-directed economic development money going to corporations. The basis of our position rests with the argument that a per capita share of economic development moneys should go firstly to the tribal regions and then to band councils. Band councils
should have band-member and band-priority lists. Having direct access to economic development moneys is an essential factor of Indian self-government and band council control.
Synonymous with that last thought, we feel that the Community Economic Development Program moneys for the salmon enhancement program development needs to be decentralized to tribal areas and, then, to bands, Further to that, no politician should be able to pull political favours to non-Indian communities who do not have salmon enhancement project plans when Indian communities do. I make specific reference to Senator Perrault giving the community of Port Hardy $200,000 to develop a salmon enhancement program. Registered with the Department of Fisheries is our Kwakiutl District Council 15-year salmon enhancement program plan. Community economic development program moneys should funnel through Indian Affairs.
In terms of centralizing contact with government and funding, the Kwakiutl submit another Goldthorpe recommendation as it relates to medical service funding. Dr. Goldthorpe states:
to reduce duplication and strengthen support of Indian community health development and community health, transfer the Indian health service from Medical Services Branch of Health and Welfare Canada to the Indian and Inuit program of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Mr. Ambers: I will give the summary. We, the Kwakiutl, have presented ourselves today as a people concerned about Indian self-government. We have shown who we are as a people, where our territory is, and how we perceive the world around us through the climate. We did our best to give an overview of Indian and government relations through the historical development of the Indian Act and the 1969 white paper. We briefly described the imapct of the Indian policy. We demonstrated our hope for the Indian people for the future by describing the principles of “whole health.” Whole health is the spirit used to achieve Indian self-government. We expressed a strong wish for aboriginal title to be entrenched in the Constitution. Until such time, we stated land claims could not be settled. We further stated that, as an interim measure, the Indian Act should be modified to promote community controlled Indian self-government, We suggested a few principles which will follow as recommendations.
The recommendations will be given by Wedlidi Speck.
Mr. Speck: Recommndations:
1. That the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government study the culture of policy making and government in the effort to change the text of Indian policy.
2. That the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government hold another session at Campbell River prior to writing its report, so they have a further opportunity to readdress changes to the Indian Act.
3. That in the interim, the special committee recommend to the department funding an Assembly of First Nations Confederacy/Kwakiutl District Council workshop on the amendments to the Indian Act.
4. That the special committee translate to the government how the Kwakiutl perceive land claims.
5. That the special committee study the problems and ramifications surrounding entrenching aboriginal title and see how we can get it entrenched.
6. That the special committee review a few of the principles of “whole health” as it relates to Indian self-government.
7. That the special committee, once it has completed its draft report, present it to the Assembly of First Nations Confederacy for constructive criticism and possible expansion.
8. That all funding sources to the Indian people be funnelled through Indian Affairs, reference made to the Goldthorpe recommendation that medical services to Indian Affairs be placed with DINA departmental framework.
9. That the special committee review the possibility of non-lapsing funding to bands, increased core funding, and additional community and economic funding for bands who would want to move back to the reserves.
10. That our preliminary recommendations to the Indian Act be based on the following principles: (a) community-based control over Indian self-government legislation, (b) aboriginal title to lands and waters versus the present situation, and (c) whole health.
Mr. Ambers: Mr. Chairman, that is our presentation. We are now prepared to answer questions.
The Chairman: It is an excellent presentation with a great deal of thought in it, and I am sure there will be a number of questions.
We will start with Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the members from the Kwakiutl District Council for a very good presentation.
I have a number of questions. First of all, in your recommendations on page 30 that all funding sources to Indian people be funnelled through Indian Affairs, would that include such general programs that apply to all Canadians as, for example, the Salmonid Enhancement Program? Would you want to see SEP programs have a separate amount of money transferred at the Ottawa level to Indian Affairs; and should it be available to Indian people, so you would not be involved with Fisheries and Oceans in the SEP program?
Mr. Ambers: That will be answered by Wedlidi Speck.
Mr. Speck: Yes.
Mr. Manly: That is the kind of answer I sometimes get from John Munro!
Mr. Ambers: We are learning.
Mr. Manly: On page 20, you talk about the concept of numaym traditional family. I find this very interesting, where you compare it to a ward system. One of the concerns I sometimes hear from individual Indian people is: In band council elections under the Indian Act, one family that has a very large number of people always controls the council; and other people belonging to other families do not have any part in it at all.
Now, it seems to me the ward system you are explaining would get around that. Could you go into some detail about that? I think it could be a helpful concept for us to understand more about.
Mr. Ambers: Wedlidi will answer that. I would like to say one or two things on it, too, when he is finished.
Mr. Speck: Yes, it is essentially important, because as we are developing, rebuilding our social organizations and reaffirming our ancient constitution act—which is aboriginal title—we are finding that from the Creator came all these rights to the family, which we call numayms, which are extended families. It goes as far as land ownership and as far as the ranking system, as you saw in the potlatch; and the restructuring of that is of vital importance, when we are talking about whole health. It is very important.
Mr. Ambers: I would like to further point out something that is very obvious. Under the government-enforced elected council concept, there is no real protection for the little fellow. As you mentioned, band councils quite often literally come under the control of a powerful family. Under the old system, everybody was protected; the whole of the tribe was protected. Everybody had a place within that society. Now we run popularity contests.
Mr. Manly: In his answer, Mr. Speck talked about the ranking system. I think this concept is very difficult for most of us, as parliamentarians, to understand and to accept. I think we come from a long tradition—certainly in my party—in which we fought for the concept of equality, and we want to see equality of opportunity. The idea of some kind of inherited rank is something that bothers us. It bothers me, and I would like to hear some expansion of that and some reasons why you feel it is important and integral to the idea of whole health.
Mr. Speck: Again, I think you have a western misinterpretation of what we call rank.
In the Kwakiutl system, rank is, in a sense, a rank without class. We have a system where people are going to do their
everyday jobs. The elders are going to be the elders of the committee and guide us within the potlatch system; they are going to teach our children. We do not say they are going to be more important than the lowest member of the family. That is a wrong way of perceiving it. Everybody is important.
If you looked at the eating etiquette of the Kwakiutl, you would see that our chiefs, when they invited their families to the big houses or more contemporary-style houses, did not have them sitting away at the back of the room. Even though he is the lowest member of the family in terms of the Kwakiutl dancing ranking order or the potlatch ranking order, he sat with you in the same sense. He was you; he was part of your family, part of the blood. He evolved with you through centuries, and not as the monarch or whatever system you still attach yourselves to. There is a difference.
Mr. Ambers: I would like to further state, because of the outlawing of the potlatch and because of the inroads so-called Christians made into destroying the tribal groups, we have large gaps within our children. Children now no longer can dance because their families no longer potlatch. So, in order to save what we consider the importance of our culture, we have to redefine our potlatch laws, we have to redefine our culture to suit what is happening to us.
Mr. Manly: Okay, thank you. I think that helps although, as you say, I come at it from a western perspective and I will certainly admit that.
I was interested when you talked about relocated villages, that you did not mention Soowahlie. Was there any particular reason why you did not mention that? I had understood there had been a great many problems at Soowahlie after that relocation.
Mr. Ambers: But Soowahlie, as far as we are concerned, was slightly different from the disappearance of the other villages we have mentioned and the ability of people to go back to them. Why, they literally burned those people out; they had no place to go except to go to where the department had designated as the area they were to live. There is a difference. Everything else destroyed the three villages that we have in our district, Turnout Island, Village Island and New Vancouver; it was the onslaught of all sorts of different things, the inability to get teachers to go there to teach, the lack of an economic base for the community, there were all sorts of different things. The movement of Soowahlie came about because it became easier for the department to deal with people that were living close to civilization. So, rather than have those people living in their traditional homes on their traditional lands, they decided to move them into areas where they could get to them easier; and they burned them out.
Mr. Speck: With respect to presenting the material on Soowahlie here, we had summoned, we will say, the district manager of Indian Affairs and unfortunately, we got a note to say he could not be here. But it was to be included. We would
have asked him to address, let us say, the whole relocation policy process. But maybe that can be done in the future.
Mr. Manly: The other three examples that you gave, they had all taken place much earlier than the transfer of Soowahlie, is that correct!
Mr. Ambers: It was after, but it was a long process. The villages were dying gradually.
Mr. Manly: So there was just a lack of population base and people gradually. . .
Mr. Ambers: What happened at Soowahlie happened, bang, just like that. It was there one day; the next day it was gone.
Mr. Manly: We have heard testimony in Ontario from one band that wanted to be able to move back to its ancestral area and was facing a great deal of difficulty and stonewalling from the department. What initiatives have been taken by the people who want to, for example. re-establish the Village Island community and what kind of response have you received in the way of help for this?
Mr. Speck: Last summer we sent in a group of students to start cleaning up Village Island to prepare for future development. We have also sent in representatives from the Department of Indian Affairs to look at the water, to maybe see if the dam could be repaired; things like that. There are a lot of people wanting to move back.
Mr. Manly: Has the department been reasonably co-operative?
Mr. Speck: In terms of the things that we have directed them in, they have been fairly responsive, yes. We have also sent them in to an area at Quatsino. We were hoping to develop a treatment centre there for persons who are addicted to alcohol.
Chief Smith: We have also offered to work out some other options to these relocation plans since it would be extremely expensive to rebuild the villages to some standard that should be met. We got together with part of the three bands that we are talking about; Turnout Island, Village Island and New Vancouver. In fact, there is another one, Noowahlie. We sat together on a committee. We had a meeting and we are offering alternatives. But they have not come back to us yet. Soon we will be meeting again and we will have more information. You can probably get back to us on that.
Mr. Ambers: We would like to ask for this, but essential to a lot of this happening is the need for land claims to be settled, an extended land base in order for people to have an economic base. Without ingredients like this, our bands are still going to suffer and are still going to get smaller and smaller. We see nothing but devastation around us. What we used to see as a beautiful area with nothing but huge trees, there is an increasing number of stumps. But if we do not get into the management part of what is left, there will be nothing left.
Mr. Manly: This morning we heard testimony about the size of reserves. In southern Vancouver Island, they were very small, one to three or four acres per capita. Would that be the situation that you face as well?
Mr. Ambers: I will relate this to you: the Turnour Island Band was granted 47 acres by the McKenna-McBride Commission and out of that 47 acres, there are only 12 you can build on. The band wanted the rest for burial grounds for their dead. It was recognized by the government that there was a mistake, even though at one point they stated that lands had to be granted to the Turnour Island people. But what they did was to get another small band within our area and amalgamated the two, in order to make it look good. But it is still very little acreage as compared to, say, the lands that were granted to the inland people. I do not think you are ever going to see or hear of many bands that have much more than 1,000 acres on the coast. If you look at all the land claims, when the bands were asking the various commissions for land, you will note that every one that you see has fishing stations because, not only did they want more land than was acceded to them, or given to them, but they recognized the fact that fishing and the sea was very important to the people.
Mr. Manly: And in fact, in your area, most of the land is tied up in tree farm licenses that are owned by large corporations, is that right?
Mr. Ambers: Parts of it.
Mr. Manly: Could you very briefly tell the committee at what stage land claims, aboriginal title, is at in the case of the KDC?
Mr. Speck: Yes, we have called all our chiefs and noble members into about three meetings now. The first meeting we spent re-affirming the aboriginal title principles and the constitution acts of Kwakiutl. Then we proceeded from there to start looking at our traditional land bases and developing, we will say, a general perimeter of Kwakiutl territory, the map of which is enclosed in your packages. Included in that is the pulling together of some really fine land use and management concepts which were very much Kwakiutl, and looking at an integration of appropriate technology projects as they relate to our territory, much the same as our ancestors did. We are working toward, maybe in March, of confirming and entering our declaration of claim into the office in Vancouver and then proceeding from there.
Mr. Manly: Are you satisfied that the present land claims policy, even when it get around to negotiating, and it is very slow in doing that as you will have heard from the Nuu-chah-nulth people, has enough scope to give the kind of recognition of aboriginal title that you feel is necessary?
Mr. Speck: Well, no.
Mr. Ambers: What policy?
Mr. Speck: We know what we want right now and I think that is the most important thing. Eventually, when we do get down to the finer points of arguing with the government, we will do it then on the points that we stay with.
Mr. Manly: Basically the government’s policy, for all the fine language, amounts to a real estate transaction in which
they want to terminate aboriginal title instead of recognizing it.
Mr. Speck: That is right. It is consistent with what we have been trying to say today, that the text of the Indian policy has not changed.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you.
The Chairman: Thanks, Mr. Manly. Warren Allmand, questions?
Mr. Allmand: On page 6 of your brief you ask the question:
Is a new Indian act enough?
And you answer that it is not enough. You go on to say:
Concentrating on legislative changes are short-term soluti ons to a long-term problem. The real problem rests in constitutional recognition of our aboriginal title and rights from title.
Then, on page 21. you repeat something similar. Whole health will remain fragile until we have aboriginal title entrenched in the Constitution Act of 1982.
So after saying that, however, on page 24 you suggest that interim changes to the law might be useful and you set out three or four recommendations for interim change. The ability for bands to develop by-laws without getting permission from the minister. Bands should be able to enforce their own by-laws. Bands should be able to develop economically without government control over money. Bands should have multi-year, non-lapsing funding commitments with its accountability to government.
Just to avoid misunderstanding, I want this made clear. Some bands which appeared before us, and some tribal councils and associations, have said that they do not want any changes to the Indian Act until there is entrenchment recognizing aboriginal title and treaty rights. Are you telling us that, while you want entrenchment of aboriginal title as I referred to in the earlier pages of the brief, you would still be willing to have interim changes to the Indian Act or to legislation on the points mentioned, or similar points with or without that entrenchment?
Mr. Speck: That is a very fine question. I think, as you are aware when you are sitting on your justice seat, that when you look at the kind of principles we are talking about, and the kinds of local authority, in realistic terms, interim measures are not going to be a fact until you get constitutional changes. It was sort of being maybe—not cynical, but it was just being twisted there.
I think, when you look at it, we are a little apprehensive about changes to the Indian Act. When we talk about the fine principles of by-law making, the Canadian constitutional system cannot accommodate that because of the control factor. That is the reality. Now reverse it. I can ask you the question: Do you think we can get it?
Mr. Allmand: Well, I believe you should have your full aboriginal rights entrenched. I am taking the position on this committee that I am trying to listen to what Indian people want rather than put forward my own views. I do not want to mistakenly go ahead and do things that I think Indians want when they do not really want that. So if I understand you correctly, while you think these are worthwhile changes to the Indian Act, your first priority is to have a recognition in the Constitution, an entrenchment of your aboriginal title.
Mr. Speck: That is correct.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you.
The Chairman: Next, Ms Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Allmand, questioned on one area I wanted to get to, so I am thankful that that has been clarified. First of all, I would like to say that I thought it was most helpful for you to begin your presentation with the film that you showed on potlatch. There has been much said today about what other Canadians are saying, and how do we convince other Canadians. Often, when Indian people talk about the past, other Canadians say, let us forget about the past and begin anew. Why is it that these Indian people always continually bring up the past? That was something that was done by our forefathers, not by us. I think there are two important points that you have raised here today which I am going to suggest to my colleagues that we look at in the report. This will, I hope, convince other Canadians.
One is that Indians do not view themselves as other Canadians do as coming from some place—from a system they did not like—to a place where they could start with something new. The other one is, and this is also true in my area, whenever Indian people talk about who they are or where they are going, the first thing you do is figure out where you came from. I think those are two very important points that ought to be made. I would like to ask one question that comes out of the film, however, and that is: Are some of the articles that you are seeking still being held by government people in the Museum of Man, or elsewhere?
Mr. Ambers: I will relate to my family. My dad lost 620-odd pieces of family regalia during the potlatch confiscations, and out of that 620-odd pieces, there are 22 left, and no one knows where they are. I have yet to go into our museum in Lord Bay to have a look at what is left because I feel that it would bother me too much. I realize the pieces that are there are not the important pieces that belong to our family. They are the dregs that other collectors did not want . . . they are rattles, and things like that, whistles.
Ms Jamieson: I asked the question, sorry . . .
Mr. Speck: Since then we have put two museums . . . One is the Kwakiutl museum in Cape Mudge, and the other is in Lord Bay, where we have split’ the artifacts because of the diversity of the Kwakiutl nation. Both these museums have created cultural programs. They are working on the language, and working on a cultural curriculum for schools.
Ms Jamieson: Are you then still seeking patriation of some of the items? The reason I ask is, from my own personal point of view, I think taking those things, as were a number of things taken from my own reserve, the wampum belts, is like taking the mace from the House of Parliament to Indian people. It is an essential element for Indian people in their government. I think it is an appropriate matter for this committee, or the standing committee, to follow up.
Mr. Ambers: I think that we, as Kwakiutl people, have lost all that regalia, and if there is any way whatsoever of getting any of it back, we will certainly pursue it. That goes without saying. I do not think that is a question that you even have to bother asking us.
Ms.Jamieson: Is it something that you would want this committee to look at? That was my question.
Mr. Ambers: Anybody.
Ms Jamieson: The other thing that I wanted to say is that I thought the brief was excellent. I think the concept of whole health, as you define it, the spirit used to achieve Indian self-government, is one that we should keep in our minds all the time as a committee. You have virtually documented everything and answered most every question, so I will not review some of the areas.
I do want to ask one specific question. On page 21 of your brief, under legal protection, you talk about the mandate of this committee and the Section 37 conference. You indicate that, in your analysis of the committees terms of reference, you believe this is the committee’s main responsibility; that is, to address aboriginal title and the issue of having protection for your self-government spirit. Can you tell me what you are asking the committee to do there, if anything?
Mr. Speck: That is a damn good question. As we look at it, the committee is going around the country and going right into Indian communities to look at the concept of Indian self-government, and for you to do that, for you to put out all the energy that you are . . . and I imagine there is a lot of personal sacrifice—and for you to go back to Ottawa and not have the work done and looked at in the proper context would be an injustice not only to us but to you. The kind of approach we would like to see you undertake is to really examine. . . One of the recommendations that I mentioned is to study the culture of policy-making of the government, and I raised one interesting observation—and I think I am really glad that we do have television and are able to watch the House of Commons debates. You look at the people and you look at the opposition; you look at the NDP; you look at the Liberals: nobody is willing to debate Indian policy or Indian concerns or Indian issues other than, say, specific references to a strong political group. I can pick up Hansard and read a lot about the Nuu-chah-nulth—and it is really good that they are able to do that—but nothing else. I think the absence is what the committee should concentrate on because you raised the point this morning that it is a political reality that if you cannot sway your politician nothing really gets done. Okay, I want
you guys to help us to find ways to do that. I do not know how the hell to do that. We have been trying for years.
Ms Jamieson: The thing I am concerned about is that the conference is in March . . .
Mr. Speck: Strike that from the record.
Ms Jamieson: —and I am not sure we have time to study things that you say we ought to. I agree with you that we ought to study them. Sol Sanderson and others have come before this committee and said: We want the committee to say something; we want the committee to make an interim report; we think the committee is obligated to say something before the conference.
How do you feel about that?
Mr. Speck: I would like to answer that because I have also read the Hon. John Munro’s statement to the committee, which I thought was a little bit of a threat—but I think you corrected that, Mr. Allmand—with respect to restricting the committees observations to legislative changes as opposed to constitutional. I would agree with constitutional because it is within your mandate and it is an important time. When we look at the committee’s function, we have to look at the committee as being an educational vehicle to educate not only Parliament and the public but those first ministers. That is one of the key functions that the committee have to have in the forefront of their minds. The answer is yes.
Ms Jamieson: That is very helpful. Thank you.
I would like to move now into two other shorter questions. One is that your brief notes the need to develop flexibility and accountability, new systems for transfer and audit. You say that you choose to organize by a tribal council, others choose to organize in another fashion. In Alberta some of the chiefs suggested to us that an Indian fiscal arrangements commission be set up that would figure out some formulas, some ways of transferring money from government to Indians and something that would be appropriate to an Indian band over here and some other type of mechanism that would be appropriate to tribal councils, for example.
Do you have any views on an Indian fiscal arrangements commission?
Mr. Ambers: Everything you said sounds good.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. Short answers; now if we could just get some action.
The other question is that I understand your tribal council received in this fiscal year for economic development for your 16 bands, 3,368 people and 119 reserves, $7,100 for economic development. Is that accurate?
Mr. Speck: Pretty close.
Ms Jamieson: What on earth can you do with $7,100?
Mr. Speck: We have experienced similar things for the past few years, but the obvious fact is with the trend to funnel moneys through other agencies like Manpower or development corporations and things like that . . . It is our communities that
have the economic development projects, and I do not think when we talk about local control that we want to be running outside to get it. No, it does not work.
Ms Jamieson: Do you think it would be helpful to set up some kind of an Indian economic development agency independent from government and independent from Indian nations that would get money onto reserves without the strings and without going through the hoops that you have to go through now!
Mr. Ambers: It sounds good.
Mr. Speck: Only if a per capita share went to the Kwakiutls.
Ms Jamieson: Only if a per capita share went to the Kwakiutls.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Those are all my questions.
The Chairman: Mr. Oberle.
Mr. Oberle: Just a couple of brief questions just following up and being more specific. Do you think there is a role for the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs or the regional forum in establishing an Indian economic development corporation which would be the repository or the recipient of funding from all sources, including provincial sources, and redistributing it? Do you think there is a role for that kind of provincial or provincially oriented Indian superstructure?
Mr. Speck: Yes, our present position is that we are taking a critical view of provincial corporations. We have stated this through the forum and we have stated this to the brotherhood with their corporation. I think until we really develop our local governments that provincial organizations, unless we lean toward a per capita allotment and a cultural allotment, will not work.
Mr. Ambers: I would like to carry that one step further. We are at a very critical time as Indian people. We are saying that we have to strengthen band governments and bring band governments so that they are a meaningful arm of the people, but before we even get to that here we are talking about setting up an organization that is going to dictate terms to that band government. I am not saying that in the future corporations or anything like that do not have a place. I would most certainly think they do have a place; but I think, to begin, band councils are the ones that should be strengthened. We, as a district council, are only a political arm of our band councils.
Mr. Oberle: What about a political advocacy role? The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs played a pretty effective, for a long time, political role. In unity lies strength and . . .
Mr. Ambers: I think every one of our organizations has helped us get to where we are now. We ourselves as Kwakiutl say that we will affiliate with any organization that has a strength that we can draw on. I think we view all of those organizations like that, and we do go to their meetings because of that. I think without those organizations we would not be here today. We recognize that; we accept it.
The Chairman: Did you ask . . .
Mr. Speck: Yes, I just wanted to put some more meat to that and just to say that a lot of the problem comes with government wanting there to be one Indian organization representing all of BC. or all of Canada. In B.C. we are very diverse culturally and in a lot of cases ideologically different. I think it is unique to have those other organizations that we use as a sounding-board, as Basil says. It is good to have; it is constructive.
Mr. Ambers: Pardon me; Chief David Hunt has a few words to say about that.
Chief Hunt: Just that it is a very politically loaded question. I would turn it back to you and ask why we have a House of Commons with three separate parties sitting in there. British Columbia Indians have already defined that we have a number of organizations that effectively represent us in various areas and that if we have 295 individual representations we are no better or no worse off than the House of Commons.
Mr. Oberle: Well, the answer to that is the House of Commons is the white man’s way of doing things, and that does not necessarily work for you. You have told us that repeatedly.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, on the entrenchment in the Constitution, the carving in stone of the concept of aboriginal rights, I must confess to you that I am not altogether—and mind you, 1 am looking at it from a different perspective than you do— enamoured with the concept of entrenchment. In fact, I voted against the constitutional package as it was finally presented in the House of Commons, together with 16 other members of Parliament from all parties.
I am not so sure that just simply because you write it in the Constitution it will overnight solve all your problems. It certainly will not change the attitudes of the people who will have to make the change if it is ever to be effected. It will not do away with discrimination; people will discriminate in various forms, in all different manners. But what I think it can do is put the weight of the law and the Supreme Court on your side as an important ally. Of course, it would be very difficult for the Supreme Court to rule on aboriginal rights cases unless someone has defined for them what aboriginal rights mean. Your brief tells me what aboriginal rights mean to you, that is quite clear, but . . .
Mr. Ambers: That is title.
Mr. Oberle: Aboriginal title . . .
Mr. Ambers: Until we can sit down together as reasonable people and come to an equitable solution to the problems we face in trying to exist in your society, we would like to see our rights entrenched until that happens.
Mr. Oberle: You want it carved in stone so nobody is going to sweep it under the carpet, as they did the treaties. I can understand that, but I would caution you not to consider that to be the end-all of all your problems, it certainly will not be.
Mr. Ambers: We do not.
Mr. Speck: No, we do not. That is just a beginning.
Mr. Oberle: Mr. Chairman, I just have to get this off my chest. Despite all the excellent briefs and submissions we have heard today, I think this brief is worth the committee coming to British Columbia. This is just absolutely excellent. Thank you very much.
I want to also say that I have looked at your recommendations and I have no difficulty with at least seriously considering all of them, but supposing we would not be able to meet again before we write the report. I know you are doing some important work in making recommendations as to some technical changes or specific changes to the Indian Act. Could we get those in any case’? Could they be given to us in the form of another brief, should it not be possible for us to meet again? Because that is rather doubtful.
Mr. Ambers: As long as you give us plenty of time.
Mr. Oberle: You know what our time constraints are; we are to report in September.
Mr. Ambers: I am saying is that he says, hey, you have to get it in by Friday, but it is already Thursday.
Mr. Speck: In answer to that, I would like to look at the whole situation as being a little more optimistic, and that we are able to do this.
I think I would now like to make reference to the little brown package you have. I think one of the things we learned from the package—even just the process in which the Goldthorpe inquiry underwent—was that we had the inquiry, we had the sessions of presentation, and following the presentation we went for a time lapse where we pulled together the people who had specialties in health development and we had a workshop. Once we had the workshop we then put our minds into sort of a constructive stage and within two weeks we went to present a final brief. I think that methodology is what we were looking at here, and we would hope that you would see the same worth we do in this process.
With respect to the document itself, we would just like to table it to demonstrate or to qualify some of the things we have said today and to urge the committee to do something or, we will say, help support our presntation for the simple fact. . . and I will quote some of the earlier things Goldthorpe says, “What a tragic waste of young life, 56% of Alert Bay Indians are dead before the age of 40.” I would like to see my uncle here live a little longer, so let us get something going.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions? There being no further questions, let me say to you, Mr. Ambers, and the other members of the Kwakiutl District Council that I want to be on the side of those who have praised this document. I share all of those views that have been previously expressed. It is an excellent document, most helpful to us.
In addition, I want to say how positively delighted I am that my good friend Gary Goldthorpe has contributed so much to the clarification of important issues. Gary has long been an ally of mine in northern Ontario. I think he is one of the most enlightened persons on Indian issues from the non-Indian community I have ever encountered. I was aware of his work in British Columbia and I could not be happier that the results of his inquiry have received such a positive response. Certainly the document you have given us will be additionally influential in helping us draw certain conclusions.
So thank you very much for all the work you have done and for appearing before us today. We are in your debt.
Mr. Ambers: Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you on behalf of my colleagues and myself. One of the reasons we were so adamant on you people viewing the potlatch films was because we felt it was so important. We felt there was absolutely no way that we would leave it out. Hopefully, with the showing of the potlatch film you understand why we talk the way we talk and why we View life the way we view life. We thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Speck: Just before we break, I would like everybody to stay still because we have our resident newsletter photographer here and she will be taking a couple of photographs. We would really appreciate that.
The Chairman: All right.
Mr. Speck: As you see in your packages, you have some copies of A Story To Be Told and you will find them very interesting reading.
The Chairman: All right, photographs may be taken now. While they are being taken I just want to make a couple of announcements.
The announcements are that the clerk advises me that some more delicious food is awaiting anyone who feels the pangs of hunger, as I do. Once the pictures have been taken, that food is available to you.
The only restriction on your free time is that at 7:45 you are asked to be on the bus so we can leave promptly in order to hold our reservation on the ferry which is taking us back to Vancouver. So it is on board the bus at 7:45. Until then you are on your own and on your honour.
This meeting is adjourned.
From the First Nations of South Island Tribal Council:
Elder Abel Joe.
Chief Thomas Sampson, Tsartlip Band, Chairperson.
Chief Wilson Bob, Nanoose Band.
Chief Mark Recalma, Qualicum Band.
Chief Dennis Alphonse, Cowichan Band.
Mr. Gus Underwood, Economic Development Advisor.
Councillor Philomena Alphonse, Cowichan Indian Education.
Mr. Phillip Paul, Saanich School Board Administrator.
Chief Andy Thomas, Esquimalt Band,
From the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council:
Mr. George Watts, Chairman.
Chief Simon Lucas, Hesquiaht Tribe.
Chief Mike Maquinna, Mowachaht Tribe.
Chief Sarah Cootes, Huchakthisat Tribe.
Chief Hugh Watts, Hupachesaht Tribe.
Chief Art Peters, Ohiaht Tribe.
Chief Dan David, Kayukwat Tribe.
Chief Charlie Thompson, Nitinaht Tribe.
Bernice Touchie, Uduelet Tribe.
Chief Bert Mack, Tukwaat Tribe.
Mr. Francis Smith, Ehattesaht Tribe.
Chief Archie Frank, Ahousaht Tribe.
From the Kwakiutl Tribal Council:
Mr. Basil Ambers, Chairman of the Executive.
Chief David J. Hunt, Kwakiutl Band.
Mr. Wedlide Speck, Special Assistant.
Chief John Smith, Turnour Island Band.