Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 7 (16 February 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 7 (16 February 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 7
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Wednesday, February 16, 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
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Prince Rupert, British Columbia at 3:25 o’clock p.m., this day, the Chairman, Mr. Penner, presiding.
Members of the Committee present: Messrs. Allmand, Manly, Oberle, Penner, Schellenberger and Tousignant.
Other Member present: Mr. Fulton.
Ex-officio member present: From the Assembly of First Nations: Ms. Roberta Jamieson.
Liaison members present: From the Native Women’s Association of Canada: Ms. Sandra Isaac. From the Native Council of Canada: Mr. Clem Chartier.
In attendance: From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Mrs. Barbara Reynolds and Mrs. Katharine Dunkley, Research Officers. From the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade: Mr. P.C. Dobell, Policy Co-ordinator.
Witnesses: From the North Coast Tribal Council: Mr. Johnson Gordon, Senator; Mr. Francis Lewis, President and Mr. Frank Parnell, Manager. From the Nishga Tribal Council: Reverend Herbert McMillan, Elder, New Aiyansh; Reverend Percy Tait, Translator, New Aiyansh; Mr. James Gosnell, President; Chief Councillor Alvin A. McKay, Lakalsap; Bishop John Hannen; Chief Councillor Rod Robinson, Vice-President, New Aiyansh; Mr. Stuart Leggatt, Legal Counsel; Mr. Bruce E. Cottingham, Advisor and Reverend Hubert Stevens, Vice-President and Chief Councillor of Kincolith. From the Kitamaat Village Council: Chief Councilor Gerald Amos; Chief Tom Robinson, Deputy and Hereditary Chief; Councillor Reg Smith and Councillor Morris Amos. From the Kitsumkalum Band: Chief Cliff Bolton. From the Kermode Friendship Society: Ms. Viola Thomas, Executive Director and Ms. Janice Robinson, Board of Director.
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.)
Mr. Gordon and Mr. Lewis from the North Coast Tribal Council each made a statement and, with Mr. Parnell, answered questions.
Reverend McMillan from the Nishga Tribal Council, through a translator, made a statement in his native language.
Bishop Hannen recited a prayer.
Mr. Gosnell and Chief Councillor McKay each made a statement and, with Chief Councillor Robinson, Mr. Legatt, Mr. Cottingham and Reverend Stevens, answered questions.
It was agreed that the appendices of the brief presented by the Nishga Tribal Council, as well as a document entitled:
“Citizens Plus”, be filed as an appendix with the Clerk of the Committee. (Exhibit-F)
Mr. Gosnell made a statement.
Chief Councillor Amos from the Kitamaat Village Council made a statement.
Chief Bolton from the Kitsumkalum Band made a statement.
Chief Robinson from the Kitamaat Village Council made a statement.
Chief Councilor Amos, Councillor Smith and Councillor Amos answered questions.
The Vice-Chairman assumed the Chair.
Chief Councillor Amos, Chief Bolton and Chief Robinson each made a statement.
Ms. Robinson from the Kermode Friendship Society made a statement and, with Ms. Thomas, answered questions.
At 9:50 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Wednesday, February 16, 1983
The Chairman: On behalf of the members of this special committee, I would like to say how pleased we are to be in this breathtakingly beautiful part of the magnificent Province of British Columbia.
We are here as a special committee of the Parliament of Canada. We have been asked by Parliament to inquire into all aspects of government-Indian relations. We have called ourselves the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government.
I apologize for the delay we have experienced. The delay is the result of some equipment that was lost en route, and our technicians have been attempting to improvise. I do thank them for all their efforts. It has been a difficult task because they do not have all the equipment they usually have, in this particular case.
This special committee is an all-party committee of the Parliament of Canada. My name is Keith Penner, and I am an MP from northern Ontario. The vice-chairman of the special committee is Mr. Stan Schellenberger, the member of Parliament from the Official Opposition side of the House of Commons, representing a constituency in Alberta. We have two members of Parliament from the Province of British Columbia sitting on this special committee, Mr. Jim Manly and Mr. Frank Oberle.
Also with us today is the member of Parliament in whose constituency we are having these hearings, Mr. Jim Fulton. We are pleased to have Jim sit in with us for the hearings today and tomorrow. I understand that in a spirit of intra- party co-operation Jim Manly is going to yield his position from time to time and let Mr. Fulton get into some of the action.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is a member of our special committee, Mr. Henri Tousignant, who represents a constituency in the Province of Quebec; as a matter of fact, just across the border from the constituency I represent. Another MP from the Province of Quebec is Warren Allmand, who is well known to Indian leaders across the country because he was a Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development a few years back. .
One of our MPs could, not be with us today: Mr. Ray Chéniemr, the MP for Timmins.
I want to advise those who are with us today that we have introduced an innovation in this special committee: we wanted to proceed in a way that would be most acceptable to Indian people in this country, and therefore we invited the Assembly of First Nations to delegate a member to become a full member of the committee. We call that person an ex-officio member. That person is Roberta Jamieson, who has been with
us from the very beginning. She has helped us in all our planning and all our arrangements and she participates in all our hearings.
There are also on the committee two liaison members, one who is representing the Native Women’s Association of Canada, in the person of Sandra Isaac; and the Native Council of Canada is represented by a liaison member in the person of Mr. Clem Chartier.
Most members of the special committee have a long association with Indian affairs issues and questions because they have served for a long time on the standing committee on Indian affairs.
We believe this is perhaps the most important undertaking that we as MPs who have been interested in the question of Indian affairs—the most important assignment or undertaking we have launched ourselves upon. We are cognizant that another process is about to begin, namely the constitutional process, and for us that process is paramount.
We are in no way in competition with it, but we believe that in the end it will be shown that our work has been compatible with what proceeds from the constitutional discussions that will start in the middle of March.
With those brief introductory remarks, we now want to get under way with the first of the submissions that we will hear today.
The first submission is going to be made by the North Coast Tribal Council. The President, Mr. Francis Lewis, is leading the delegation from the North Coast Tribal Council. Mr. Lewis, I would be pleased if you would introduce the members of your delegation and then proceed by way of reading your submission into the record. At the conclusion of that we would like to spend some time discussing your points of view and asking some questions, if that is agreeable to you.
Mr. F. Lewis (President, North Coast Tribal Council): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I would like to introduce the members from our tribal group. We have Andrea Dickson, the band administrator for Masset Band Council; Mr. Tom Greene, Chief Councillor for Skidegate Band Council; Mr. Russell Robinson, Chief Councillor from Hartley Bay; Cecil Brown, Chief Councillor from the Masset Band Council; Mr. Frank Parnell, Administrator for the North Coast Tribal Council; Mr. Johnson Gordon, whom we consider as our senator, one of our elders, who is representing the North Coast Tribal Council; Mr. Danny Leighton, Chief Councillor for Metlakatla Band; and Harold Leighton, the band administrator for the Metlakatla Band.
At this time, Mr. Chairman, I would like to turn the mike over to Mr. Johnson Gordon for a few brief introductory remarks. Thank you.
Mr. Johnson Gordon (Senator, North Coast Tribal Council): Thank you, Francis.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to welcome the subcommittee on Indian self-government on the great Tsimshian land, this part of the coast of British Columbia where the people have been around for thousands of years. I would like to thank you all for giving us the opportunity to present to you the needs of self-government and the concern of the North Coast Tribal Council.
I am going to go back to, I would say, 1930. I was approximately six years old when I first knew what they call an “Indian agent”. The Indian people did not really have a chance to get what they wanted. As an orphan, what you call “welfare’—the Indian people did not really have a chance to pick out the food they wanted. The list was made up by the Indian agent, and we did not know what some of the food we were getting was.
As time rolled by, things changed, a little at a time. A few years ago Mr. Trudeau announced self-government for the Indian people and opened the doors that were closed on us. The North Coast Tribal Council came into existence over 10 years ago. As time went by, the North Coast Tribal Council progressed in their work, but it seems that now the government or somebody somewhere has tried to close the doors again on self-government for the Indian people.
Mr. Chairman, the North Coast Tribal Council have concerns to present to you at this time. The difference I was talking about: the housing was very poor . . . just the shell was up a few years ago, no sidings, hardly any lining, no insulation; but, as the North Coast Tribal Council progresses in their work, the housing has been improved on all band levels in the communities surrounding us within the North Coast Tribal Council.
The time has come now that the standing committee of self- government for the Indian people. . . I believe there is a gap somewhere along the line between the Indian people and the federal government and I sure hope that this will draw us closer. Then you will understand the needs of our people in this area.
Speaking for the North Coast Tribal Council, as a man who was brought up a Kitcava, born a Kitcava, and as a Canadian, I am very happy to see you people come and listen to what Mr. Lewis will read to you. I hope there will be more understanding from now on. I would like to see Indian self-government go on for years to come. Thank you very much.
Mr. F. Lewis: Thank you very much, Johnson.
I would like to take this opportunity now to read my brief. Thank you.
The North Coast Tribal Council is made up of six bands from three different tribal groups—Tsimshian, Haida and Nishga—representing over 4,000 band members, or about 8,000 when you include people who have lost their status because of the Indian Act. Our tribal council is organized around consultative, co-ordinating and lobbying functions on behalf of member bands. As well, we provide advisory services to member bands in the areas of education, social development and economic development. However, we regard the tribal
council’s provision of services to bands to be only a temporary provision of services while the tribal council assists bands to develop their capabilities to provide services for themselves. We do not see this tribal council as a developing bureaucracy parallel to or replacing the Department of Indian Affairs. In fact, the North Coast Tribal Council is co-operating with two Haida member bands to form a Haida Tribal Council to provide direct services in education, social development, economic development and housing for the two Haida bands. We do not see our respective roles as either competing or conflicting, but as complementary.
We are also one of the three tribal councils, along with the Nishgas and the Gitksan—Carriers, to form the Northern Native Fishing Corporation to buy and operate the former B.C. Packers gillnet rental fleet for salmon fishing. The executive of our tribal council is made up of representatives from each band chosen by their band councils and includes the chief councillor or his designate from each band. They have identified eight concerns which they wish to present to the committee.
These concerns are as follows:
1. The government seems to think that one person or one organization should speak on all matters for Indians in British Columbia. This stance fails to recognize the great cultural and political diversity among tribal groups. We are a pluralistic people. We recognize that what is right for particular bands might not work for other bands, but that does not mean we are opposed to bands that want do do thing differently. It just means that we speak only for ourselves.
We are totally opposed to government funding going to any organizations on the basis that those organizations represent all B.C. Indians. The bands should be the only ones deciding what organizations get funding to represnt them and on what issues they wish to be represented. Some bands may wish a certain organization to represent them in land claims and other organizations to represent them in lobbying with the Department of Indian Affairs; and no organization except their own to represent them in matters such as education or economic development. That is their prerogative, to decide what organization, if any, will represent them.
The budgeting process in the Department of Indian Affairs prevent bands and tribal councils from developing stable units of local government which can provide services required by the community. First, sources of levels of funding shift from year to year with little or no advance notice. An example of this is CCDP grants for housing labour. Another is the Department of Indian Affairs shifting adult occupational training dollars from education to economic development for 1983-1984.
2. All bands and tribal councils are forced into one-year term contribution arrangements with the Department of Indian Affairs, thus preventing any long-term financing.
Indian local government cannot exist on short-term shifting sources of revenue. Bands and tribal councils need stable funding just as municipal governments need stable funding.
We have three recommendations we would like to see implemented with respect to this problem.
Block funding to bands: The Department of Indian Affairs on the one hand says it wants to develop responsible local government at the band level but, on the other hand, it comes up with more and more restrictions on how bands ought to manage their money.
Contribution agreements should be multi-year, say, over a five-year period, to allow for long-term planning and finance.
Some sort of revenue-sharing program needs to be considered. Industry and government should provide an equivalent of tax revenue sharing for all development within Indian traditional lands, in addition to funding normally provided for programs and services.
This tax-sharing scheme should be a matter of negotiation between the particular band government involved, industry and the federal government.
Our concern is that the Department of Indian Affairs, in spite of all its propaganda about developing local government, regards band administrations merely as extensions of the Department of Indian Affairs. The Indian Act itself and the Department of Indian Affairs’ D-circulars operate on the notion that band councils and tribal councils are administrative flunkies for the Department of Indian Affairs’ bureaucracy.
The circulars give no recogniton to developing Indian government asalegitimate level of government in Canada.
As long as the department demands that bands and tribal councils act as cheap administrative labour for the department, problems such as band insolvency, low levels of community service and little socio-economic development will persist.
Our recommendation is that bands and tribal councils be allowed to address community needs, according to each communities expressed needs and priorities, instead of merely satisfying the bureaucratic demands of a paper system.
There is no point in a tribal council or a band taking over the Department of Indian Affairs’ programs if we cannot also decide the policy for these programs. Yet the Department of Indian Affairs is insisting that it can provide funding to tribal councils and bands only if the tribal councils and bands are administrating Department of Indian Affairs programs.
Funding levels are another concern. The department’s five-year operational plan was supposedly done in consultation with bands and tribal councils but that consultation was a joke. The department wanted a response from us on two days’ notice and then somebody in the bureaucracy had already decided that
funding levels would be for the northcoast bands. In fact, the department had already decided that the capital budget for northcoast bands was going to be reduced from $2.6 million to $2.4 million for the 1983-1984 fiscal year. Now the word we get from the department officials is that we may be cut back even more, and we may be cut back in O&M as well as much as 20% below this year’s funding.
In 1979, the Department of Indian Affairs established a development fund which was supposed to provide bands with greater flexibility and make more funds available in areas of economic development, band training, planning, preventive social services, and occupational skills training. Yet the economic development money available to northcoast bands for this year—$522,900—is less that what was available when the fund started in 1979. Total dollars available for all developmental areas have increased only 43% from 1978 to 1983, yet welfare payments for the same period have increased by 250%—from $687,433 to $2.4021 million, and this does not include cost for administration of the welfare programs by the bands.
The bands are already running deficits from trying to operate on inadequate funding. With further cutbacks in funding, there is no hope of developing stable local government. All you are doing is getting cheap labour to do the department’s work.
To develop Indian government means to provide funding levels adequate enough to lift it beyond being merely an extension of federal government administration.
Bands and tribal councils have difficulty hiring and keeping good administrative and program staff because they cannot guarantee any continuity of funding from year to year.
The entire funding procedures and mechanisms for band O&M are inadequate and unacceptable.
There are major differences in how the department and the bands perceive the delivery of programs on reserves. The department sees its rules and regulations regarding program delivery to bands as law, to be changed only through some mysterious process known only to the high priests of the department in Ottawa.
On the other hand, we regard all department program circulars and regulations as only ad hoc arrangements which permit the continuation of government services until such time as Indian people are given the power, authority and responsibility to develop and provide Indian government and Indian services.
The department and the federal government have to recognize that we want to and will develop our own procedures, rules and regulations for providing services, and those services will be defined by the community, not by the Department of Indian Affairs.
All we need are funding levels adequate enough to begin with and the flexibility to use funding to address Indian concerns, rather than to satisfy the needs of some bureaucratic system.
Economic Development: It seems that too many people in Vancouver and Ottawa are making decisions about economic development on reserves. Those decisions should be made locally. The fishing fleet is a case in point. We should have had that fishing fleet years ago.
We want to see economic development proposals come from the bands, be reviewed and supported by area bands and the department simply facilitate funding.
The way it works now, bureaucrats in Ottawa or Vancouver actually decide if a project will go or not—decide the funding level, regardless of our priorities. That is backwards from how it should be.
The same problem exists with capital funds for bands. It does not seem to matter what we determine as priorities for our villages. If a project does not meet the approval of a select and secret group of bureaucrats in Vancouver, the department will not provide funding for it.
If you want responsible Indian government, then you have to get rid of bureaucrats who think that they are still Indian agents babysitting the bands and making decisions for the bands.
Finally, I would like to address the question of whether bands should become municipal governments.
Provincial municipalities are responsible for the provision of water, sewer and garbage disposal, fire and police protection, recreation facilities, zoning and building standards, various bylaws and their enforcement; collection of taxes to assist in providing services and the provision of administration to carry out these services and duties.
A band, while responsible for providing all the services of a municipality, is also responsible for a wide range of services which a municipality is not.
Housing: The band is responsible for actual financing and construction of new housing and housing renovations on reserve.
Education: The band is responsible for administering and staffing home-school co-ordinators, nursery instructors and teacher’s aides, as well as administering room and board payments for students and, in some cases, payments for university vocational students.
Health services: The band is responsible for administering and staffing the Community Health Representative Program and the Native Alcohol Abuse Program.
Natural resources: If a band has a salmon enhancement program with the Department of Fisheries, it is responsible for
the administration, staffing and operation of that program. This is also true of any forestry conservation project.
My first point in listing these is that bands have a great deal more responsibility than any municipality ever had for the provision of services to its members and for the administration of programs on behalf of other government agencies, yet funding is on an ad hoc whimsical basis.
My second point is that we do not wish to become provincial municipalities, subject to provincial acts under whims of provincial ministers. The executive of the North Coast Tribal Council, made up of the chief councillors of each of our member bands, has instructed me to heavily emphasize that we do not wish to become provincial municipalities or anything equivalent to provincial municipalities. Bands are a special entity in Canadian society and we wish to maintain our special relationship with the federal government but as a responsible level of government recognized by both federal and provincial governments, not as a mere extension and lowest level of administrative bureaucracy. Developing sound Indian government cannot proceed without addressing these differences.
That is our brief, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Lewis. It is a forceful brief with some excellent points and I think the members would now like to spend some time just elaborating on some of those points. I will begin by calling on Mr. Fulton for some questions.
Mr. Fulton: There are a couple of points I would like to expand on a little bit.
I agree with you completely regarding the problems with the provincial DIA right now in terms of not knowing from year to year, or even from month to month, what kind of funding there is going to be and whether or not there will be continuity. But within your brief, from some of your comments, I noticed the desire to get away from that kind of funding and to get into core funding, to get into some kind of a scheme of taxation in relation to the existing industrial and forest base. I wonder if you could comment on that.
It seems to me that what is being pursued is title, particularly in British Columbia and to perhaps the greatest extent here in the northwest, and that the form of government you seem to be touching on here somewhat is a kind of bridging self-government in getting away from DIA administration and getting to core funding. I just wondered if you would expand a little bit on the taxation area. I agree with you on the proposal to go more directly to core funding, almost like a transfer payment between the federal and provincial governments, but I wonder if you could expand a little bit on whether or not it is your view that in moving towards title and ultimate self-government, with full powers of self-government on your own lands—speaking, of course, of all the lands in British Columbia right now—there is a grey area there which I would
just like you to expand on in terms of that taxation versus core funding or transfer payments.
Mr. Frank Parnell (Manager, North Coast Tribal Council): I do not think it was our intention of having it interpreted as versus core funding. It was something to work along with core funding. One of our main reasons of having that as part of the brief is because we are in an area where all this mega-project development is taking place and we see the benefits only going within the Municipality of Prince Rupert with nothing happening with our communities, whereas our communities are having problems with the socio-economic development and we need funding to go into our bands rather than grants from the Department of Indian Affairs.
We feel that industry has to take that role of recognizing our people in this area, and they have not done that in the past. The only way they can do that is through pressure from the federal government. From our understanding, federal government provides a lot of grants to these mega-projects that are coming in, but there are no conditions built in on of what they are going to do or work along with Indian people. This is why we felt we should have this in this brief.
Mr. Fulton: The point I am trying to get at, I think, is that the constitutional conference is coming reasonably quickly and the resolution, I am trusting, of outstanding land claim issues and the question of title is going to occur, not only in British Columbia but in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and other areas of the country as well.
I wonder if you could comment on whether or not my statement would be correct, that what you would like to see is the phase-out of the DIA bureaucracy. Where you are being dictated certain programs to be administered in the villages now, to phase that out and go to a process of core funding where each band decides what the priorities of the band are, if you follow my line there, but post-title settlement, the type of self-government that perhaps this committee should be looking at is the bridging concept you are talking about here to get to the point of title settlement. Perhaps you could touch on what kinds of powers you are talking about for self-government after settlement of title.
Mr. F. Lewis: I guess I can try to answer that, Jim, but the thing is, the problem we have is that our tribal council is not structured to deal with the land claims issue. But when you talk about phasing out the Department of Indian Affairs and that bureaucracy, I think that is the ultimate goal of our tribal council because we feel that we have the people in place who can handle these programs, do a gradual changeover from the department over to our tribal council or to our bands, and we feel that the training for taking over the department’s responsibility should be done as soon as possible in order for us to totally take over a few years down the road, instead of us continuing to talk about it. I think it is very important that the department consider turning over more responsibilities to the Indian bands, with proper training in place instead of the way the system now works.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Roberta Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you very much for a very stimulating brief from the North Coast Tribal Council.
Mr. Fulton touched on at least one of the areas I wanted to get into, and you partially answered it, and that is the mega- projects, the development going on in this area. My understanding is that in an internal memorandum of the B.C. regional office, and in Ottawa as well, alternate energy mega- projects in British Columbia have been identified as having potentially devastating impact on the Indian communities. In fact, regional development has been identified as the major issue of the decade by the Department of Indian Affairs regional office here.
From what you are saying, I would assume you would agree that these kinds of projects and the disregard for the Indian government in the area threaten Indian government. I wonder if you could tell me what funding and/or information you are getting to prepare for those events. If none, what do you think you ought to be getting and what involvement do you think you ought to have?
Mr. Parnell: To date we have not received any kind of funding to prepare for any of the mega-project developments taking place in this area. We have always stressed to the Department of Indian Affairs, and made it known to them, that we wanted funding to prepare our people in this area for this type of development, to develop a way of how we could fit into the development. Even though our people are opposed to any kind of major development in this area, we realize that it is at a point now where we really cannot turn anything back. But we are also looking into this kind of development and we are seeing things being developed but we do not have any part in it. We have not been given the opportunity to express our opinion on this type of development.
I will give you an example of what happened in Northeast Coal. They started developing the coal in Tumble Ridge. They talked about how Indian people can be involved in it. The Department of Indian Affairs came up with the idea that the way they could involve the Indian people in that area would be to have the Indian people build a store in Tumble Ridge; that would be their contribution and that is what they would receive out of that development. That was their solution to it. At least they got something out of it; we do not have anything in this area.
We made it known to the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission that we want some kind of process put into this area where Indian people can participate. We have written to Lloyd Axworthy. We asked him if there were ways that we could get funding to set up a development corporation where we could start developing small businesses that would feed off this development. We did this over two years ago and we have not received word back from Lloyd Axworthy. The only indication we had that Lloyd Axworthy had received our correspondence was that we received a letter from Jim Fulton informing us that he also had contacted him. That is the extent of our involvement.
Ms Jamieson: Did you ask the Department of Indian Affairs about funding?
Mr. Parnell: They mentioned that there was funding for Northeast Coal and that we could get involved with an employment survey; which we did. But this funding was set up for Northeast Coal; it was not set up for the mega-projects in the Prince Rupert area.
Ms Jamieson: Your brief says you see the development of Indian government as a legitimate realm of government, and currently Canada, and Indian Affairs policies in particular, for example, do not allow it. You also do not seem to be getting much response, from what you tell me, from the government in trying to exercise your Indian governmental powers. Do you think you should be involved in, for example, negotiation of this kind of development with the company, with the federal government?
Mr. F. Lewis: Are you still talking about mega-projects . . . whether we should be involved? I feel that somewhere along the line we should become involved with these mega-projects, because they are going to have a socio-economic impact, especially on our fishing industry. We do not know what these big projects are going to do to the fishing industry, and that is one of the concerns we have. I do not know if they have done any studies on the impact these mega-projects are going to have. I do not think so, because we have not been approached.
That is one of the concerns we have: what kind of an impact would it have, and how is the Department of Indian Affairs going to handle such an impact from companies and other developers coming in. It is hard for our Indian people to become involved, because we have to become a union or something like that. Most of the people who are working in the Prince Rupert area on these mega-projects are from out of town. There are very few people locally who work on these mega-projects. That is one of the concerns we have. We have not been able to deal with it. We have met with various unions, but it is very difficult.
Ms Jamieson: I can appreciate what you are saying, that under the current system you would have to be a union or something, because there does not seem to be very much respect given at the moment for Indian government. Do you see in the future—say if the Constitution is changed significantly, more than it is now, would you like to control such things as development in these mega-projects on your traditional lands? Do you think that is your right as an Indian government?
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes, we would feel it would be one of our rights, because we have always respected our traditional lands, especially in the fishing business; we have always been able to control how much fish we take and things like this. But now that some other government is responsible for that, there have been problems with it. The Indian people have never been approached for advice on any conservation measures regarding fishing or anything like that.
I believe they will probably do the same with the land. We feel very badly about a lot of things that are happening in our country and in our area, especially on the Queen Charlotte
Islands, the way these loggers are just logging off all the forests over there without any care for any conservation measures. I think this has to be strongly considered by any developer coming into an area; and that is where we would probably fit in.
Ms Jamieson: I would like to move to one other area, and that is, when the Indian governments or the Indian bands in this area run and direct and deliver services directly to their communities and the Department of Indian Affairs is phased out—as you say, the direction you would like to move—do you feel you would then like the trust responsibility between yourselves and the federal government to diminish as well? Or do you see some kind of special relationship continuing?
Mr. F. Lewis: I would see some kind of a special relationship continuing. One of the reasons why we would like to have self- government, I guess, is funding. The way the funding is now set up, it is not properly in place. There is a lot of waste of money. If the bands were to be responsible for setting up their own budgets and setting up their own priorities, we would spend all these tax dollars more usefully. But the way it is set up now, we have to spend so much money in certain areas.
Our biggest concern is the amount of money that is being spent on welfare. There is absolutely no control over it by the Department of Indian Affairs. We are telling them that if we have any control over any of the budgets they give to us, we would spend the money more usefully. But I guess that is a difficult thing for them to do. I do not know. Still, today, we have not been able to have any say about how our budgets are being spent. We believe a lot of it is being wasted.
Ms Jamieson: My final question is this. Who do you feel you should be accountable to for the moneys you receive? Currently I know bands are accountable to the department, and through the department to the minister. Who do you feel you should be accountable to?
Mr. F. Lewis: I guess we should be accountable to the Treasury Board. I do not believe we should go through about 10 different levels of government before we can account for any dollars that we spend. If a proper system were in place, I do not think we would need district offices, regional offices, and things like that. If the Indian bands had a lot of control and had a good financial background or whatever is required for controlling the funds, I think we should only deal with one group, whether it be in Ottawa or in Vancouver. But some kind of a mechanism has to be set up for that.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you, Roberta.
As I read your brief, I came to the conclusion that you see the basic unit of Indian government as being the band, and you are advocating that there be multi-year transfer payments directly to the band so the band may establish their own priorities and do their own planning, and all other political or administrative arrangements, such as tribal councils, treaty organizations, or national assemblies, would be determined by the bands themselves. In other words, those other arrangements would be no business of the federal government at all.
Government-to-government relations would mean that the federal government would deal with the band.
Would that be a correct interpretation, that I am drawing from your brief?
Mr. F. Lewis: That would be a correct interpretation, because the problem we have now is that the way the system is set up, we have to report to many different levels of government. A lot of paperwork is involved, and we do not think that is necessary at all.
The Chairman: All right. Now, if a multi-year transfer system were put in place, if the Indian people decided they needed other sources of political or administrative arrangements, the funds would flow up from the band; the band would decide that it would be useful for them to combine and work together in another arrangement. So the funds then would flow upward and there would be no federal funding to these other political or administrative arrangements within Indian government.
Would that be correct?
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes, that is right. That is the reason why we put it in the brief. We feel it is totally up to each individual band as to who would represent them. If they want a certain organization to represent them, that is their decision to make. But what has been happening in the past is that some organizations have been formed and proper representation has not been coming from these organizations. We do not feel it is fair that any organization should get moneys on behalf of anybody, or any band, unless that band has a lot of say in it or at least is represented properly. We feel organizations sometimes may be another form of bureaucracy that is impeding the progress of any band, because some organizations have been set up where Ottawa totally listens to them and does not listen to the individual bands, and we do not feel that is right.
The Chairman: If there were to be a system of multi-year transfer payments, one of the problems would be that bands across Canada are quite diverse in their standards of living and their economic development. Some are very poor; extremely poor; a tremendous amount of catch-up is required to bring them up even to minimum standards. There are other bands that are better off; and there are a few that are well off. How would you decide the level of funding for these various bands, taking into account the disparities that exist?
Mr. F. Lewis: I think that would be the responsibility of the Department of Indian Affairs. This is the feeling we have always had: that the Department of Indian Affairs’ responsibility and” its mandate are to prepare bands to become self- determined. To date that has not been done.
About the bands that do not have the proper qualifications, if you want to call them that, I guess those can be built up over a number of years. This should be the responsibility of some group of people, or whatever. But somewhere along the line, there has to be a mechanism built in where advisory services are still available to the bands that are in that state.
The Chairman: What would be your reaction to the suggestion that a super organization be put in place at the federal level, which could bargain or negotiate directly with the federal government for a multi-year global amount, which would then be transferred to the bands? Just for the sake of a name for the moment, we might call it an Indian ?scal arrangements commission. They would deal on a government- to-government basis to negotiate a global amount, much in the same way as ?scal arrangements are now negotiated or bargained between the provinces and the federal government, usually on a five-year basis.
Would that be attractive or acceptable to you?
Mr. F. Lewis: I guess it would be attractive to us if it is going to mean more funding. Yes, we would like to see something like that in the long run, as long as we have our proper representation there.
Another thing we did not bring up in our brief is the allocation of funds straight across Canada. As you know, British Columbia probably receives the lowest amount; and if you have a group in place at the Ottawa level, a powerful group that can negotiate with Treasury Board, I do not think any bands would be opposed to that. Yes, only if we get our proper representation there.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Mr. Oberle, do you some questions? Mr. Oberle, please.
Mr. Oberle: Mr. Lewis, I have a couple of questions that deal with the government structure.
You say you would not think a municipal type of structure would be sufficient for you; and for obvious reasons, because you are responsible to deliver and exercise powers that far exceed those of municipal governments: the provision of housing, health care, education and so on. Indeed, citizenship or membership is a power that not even the provinces exercise.
You also say you are not happy with the special relationship you already have with the federal government because you have an Indian Affairs Department. White people do not have that; and you have a guardian, a trustee, in Ottawa that white people do not have. He is called the Minister of Indian Affairs.
The question I wish to ask you is whether or not you have given any thought to the idea of the special arrangement you would like to put in place instead of the Indian Act and the Indian Affairs Minister. What kind of special arrangement would you put in place with the federal government?
To throw out an idea, suppose you had a kind of municipal act under a federal charter. Now, do not shy away from this word “municipal”. I am talking about a municipal act that would embrace all the powers you would need to be a sovereign band government. But you would have the same kind of
arrangement, then, with the federal government as municipalities have with the province.
Have you given any thought to that? If you scrap the Indian Affairs Department, the minister will have nothing to do; and we will have to appoint him to some kind of Liberal commission or something, and then we will have to… But we will have to put something else in place, and I wonder what it would be.
Mr. F. Lewis: I would like to ask Frank to answer that.
Mr. Parnell: Even though we have our own minister in Ottawa, we feel our hands have to deal with too many people in between. When you talk about something equivalent or something better than municipalities, what we want is for people in Ottawa to look at our bands as a recognized government; and they do not do that now.
We only have to deal with the Minister of Indian Affairs, who is recognized by the federal government. Our bands are not recognized by the federal government. Our bands are not recognized by the provincial government. As is stated in our brief, we are the lowest level of any kind of bureaucracy that exists. That means nobody recognizes us.
Now, we feel there has to be some kind of mechanism set up, so that the governments can recognize our bands as governments. Until that happens, we are going to stay in the position we are in now.
Mr. Oberle: That would be true in your area as well. You really feel your band councils are nothing more than an extension of the Indian Affairs bureaucracy.
Mr. Parnell: That is correct.
Mr. Oberle: Now, what you are suggesting is a Confederacy, not of 10 provinces in the federal government but of 588 Indian bands, 10 provinces and the federal government. That will make the process very cumbersome in Ottawa. You will have to establish some kind of new structure, and it is going to be a very complex question that we have to address and come to grips with.
So I am merely asking if you have given any thought to that.
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes, I understand. We understand it is going to amount to a number of bands’ going individually; but as I stated earlier, we are not here to totally wipe out the Department of Indian Affairs. Some bands will never be able to progress the way they should or the way they would like. Over all these years, a lot of bands now are totally on welfare; and it is going to be very difficult to get these bands to turn around.
So we feel it is still the responsibility of the federal government to look after these people. But on the same hand, it is not fair for the government not to allow other bands, tribal groups or whatever to progress because of other bands’ not reaching
that level. So something has to be worked out between those bands and the federal government.
I think this has to be discussed. To date, all we hear about is self-government; but there is nothing happening at that level. We hear about it from the Department of Indian Affairs; and today, we do not listen to that any more, because that is all we have been talking about.
Mr. Oberle: You are telling me something that is important; that is, whatever system we recommend and put in place would have to be flexible enough to permit every band to progress at its own pace and flexible enough to permit every band to assume whatever dormant kind of jurisdiction they have not yet exercised.
Mr. F. Lewis: That is right. As I stated earlier, it is the mandate of the Department of Indian Affairs to make every band self-sufficient and self-determined. But if you look at the statistics on the amounts of moneys going out to each band, maybe 80% of the funds from Ottawa is going into welfare programs, and maybe 20%—or not even 20%, but 10%—is going to economic development. If you turn that around, then you will find bands do not need the Department of Indian Affairs if they can become self-sufficient with economic development.
If you look straight across Canada and even in British Columbia here, last year we bought a fleet from B.C. Packers for $10 million. We should have had that eight years ago, if the department had come through with their mandate.
All the department has to do today is continue on with their mandate and try to implement it. They have not done that to date. All we have been getting is welfare money, and that is not our idea of becoming self-determined.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: I would like to address a question to Mr. Johnson Gordon. I very much appreciated his giving us his experience over a number of years, and from his own personal point of view, detailing some of the progress that has been made.
You said, a few years ago, the door was opened to self- government, and now you see that door being closed again. I wonder if you could spell out for the committee what you meant by that.
Mr. Gordon: Thank you, Mr. Manly. I am not saying it is closed now; but by the look of things, the doors might be closed on Indian people on self-government. I was involved in band council for 16 years; and during those 16 years, there have been lots of changes. The Indian people found out what were we entitled to. The government does not walk up to us and say: Here, it is yours. We have to fight for the things towhich we are entitled. Things have changed; and now, by the look of things, the government may be closing the doors on us again,
which I do not like to see. It is the same with the rest of the tribal groups.
Was that your question?
Mr. Manly: So you are saying, at the same time we are going around as a committee asking about Indian self- government, the government is making self-government more difficult. I presume you are referring to such things in the brief as the cutting back of funding and the increased restrictions.
I see Mr. Lewis would like to comment on that.
Mr. Gordon: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Manly, the Indian moneys from Ottawa budgeted for Indian people is being watered down until we get it. Most of it is all gone, probably 90% of it. By the time it gets to the band level, there is hardly anything left. It goes through too many different levels of government, where the money is actually spent, before it gets to Indian people.
Mr. F. Lewis: I would like to comment a little further on what was meant by the door seems to be closing. That is a fact because every year our budgets are being cut back, which makes it very difficult for tribal councils to operate—today, especially. And yet our tribal council is set up to try to get the bands into positions where they can take over a number of their programs, but the department which, to date, has given us a certain amount of money, now is talking about further cutbacks. I think they are also discussing the question of whether or not tribal councils should be involved in this kind of thing.
Mr. Manly: Without a decent financial base, all the talk about self government does not mean very much.
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes, that is correct, unless we can sit down with somebody who has the power and really talk about self- government. To date that has not occurred.
Mr. Manly: Thank you.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions? Mr. Schellenberger.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to follow up a little on Mr. Manly’s questioning. Regarding the delivery of services, or funds which come from the federal government, unless you have some control over them, you are really an economically dependent entity of government. So long as you are an administrator of funds, rather than an initiator of programs and the actual distribution of those funds, you really do not have any government, because the department of Indian Affairs could take the money away at any time. So what you are saying is that you would like some long term kind of commitment, so that you could really get down to deciding which programs you would like to develop.
Can we use welfare programs, for example? Do you think it would be possible if you had control over those funds to, in fact, get more economic development, more employment, for your band than, actually, just the distribution of cheques to people who do not work.
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes. We firmly believe there are all kinds of ways we can handle that program. Right now we find that it is heavily administered by the department and heavily regulated within a lot of things. But if this particular program were turned over to the bands, I think we would resolve the housing problem we have had to date regarding the labour for building these homes. Our people do not like welfare; they would prefer to work for their money. So if the band had the power to spend their welfare funds a certain way such as, say, make-work programs, the situation on the reserves would be greatly improved in housing and other projects.
Mr. Schellenberger: The make-work programs that you would develop would add something positive to the band, rather than involve money which is just blown away.
Mr. F. Lewis: That is right. Right now, it is a one way thing; the money just comes and is gone. There is nothing within the community to show for it. If the bands were given the opportunity to go into bloc funding, a lot of this money would be diverted to sources for community improvement and other economic development programs. Right now, the money just comes down to the band and it is gone. There is no control over it, once it has gone to the people.
Mr. Schellenberger: I come from Alberta and all the land is set aside into reserves there. There are still some claims outstanding, but do I understand that you do not have that here?
Mr. F. Lewis: We have reserves in British Columbia, but we do not have any treaties with any government. In a few areas in British Columbia, I guess, some do have treaties, but we are not treaty Indians.
Mr. Schellenberger: Once you have settled the land base, do you believe that such land base should be held in trust by the government, or do you feel that you have the competence to hold it in trust for your own people?
Mr. F. Lewis: I think it should be held in trust for our own people. We have had bad experiences with the federal government to date—with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, for example. You talk about trust, but you look at that Musqueam case, and you will find out what kind of trust they are talking about.
Mr. Schellenberger: Yes, we learned all about that yesterday. That was very interesting. So what you tell me is that you have no difficulties with holding the land which is set aside for your people, through your own administration. You do not
require the department or the minister to hold it in trust for you?
Mr. F. Lewis: No, I do not think so. I do not think we require anybody, as long as we know what has to be done and what kind of administration should be in place—I mean, whatever is required. We could get our own people to train in those particular areas.
Mr. Schellenberger: Once these things were in place, and you had a type of self-government developed by yourself, do you believe there would be any need, then, to keep the Indian Act in place? Should other mechanisms be put in place which would be as good as, or better than, the old act?
Mr. F. Lewis: I think there is a lot of room for improvement with the Indian Act. Right now, I cannot say that we should throw the whole thing right out, because a lot of provisions are in there to protect us, but I firmly believe that it has to be updated. It has not been changed for a number of years. We just hear about certain changes. I believe some things should be in there to protect the Indian people, unless they are written fully in the Constitution.
Mr. Schellenberger: Yes. The Constitution may assist us in that. Thank you.
The Chairman: Sandra Isaac.
Ms Isaac: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have just one question. When the Indian economic development fund finally becomes operational, in what area would you propose that it be spent—for example, the amount allotted to your tribal council? Would the development corporation, for example, be the body to administer the funds and provide the advisory services?
Mr. F. Lewis: I guess with regard to where the funds should be spent for economic development, if they ever do come down, that would be totally up to each individual band. As long as each individual band understands the fact that they should develop some kind of an economic base long range. Right now, I guess the most important economic development in our particular area would be the fishing industry and the logging industry.
Ms Isaac: Would the development corporation be a part of that?
Mr. F. Lewis: No; I do not think it is necessary that the development corporation be a part of it. They could be advisors and accept recommendations.
The Chairman: Clem Chartier.
Mr. Clem Chartier: I notice in some of the briefing material that your council does not differentiate to any great extent between members of your nation, with respect to recognition or not by the Indian Act, and that is very useful to me. I should just mention that my role on this committee is to represent the interests of the non-status Indians of the Native Council of Canada, and sometimes we do run into difficulty with respect to the issue of non-status Indians and where they fit in amongst the Indian nations and the Indian community. Now if there were to be provision made whereby Indian
nations could make, or have the right to determine, their own membership, how does your council propose to deal with the issue of those people who have lost status under the Indian Act?
Mr. F. Lewis: That is one section of the Indian Act which we would like to see revised as to how a person becomes non- status. As far as we are concerned in our area, there is no such thing as a non-status Indian; however, with regard to funds, we still get funding on that basis. As far as we are concerned, though, we do not believe in that terminology. It is government terminology and we will have to deal with it at a later time, I guess—maybe when the Indian Act is to be revised. It is one of the problems that we also have to deal with and which, as far as we are concerned, just creates problems. It forms a block there that is hard for us to deal with.
Mr. Chartier: Yes; I agree it is a difficult issue. One of the parts of the mandate of this committee, in fact, is to study that issue and, also, the question of, if Parliament is to allow for reinstatement, whether or not we agree that it is their role to do so. But if they do decide to provide for re-instatement, I think they are also supposed to be looking at what additional resources the Indian nations or Indian governments would need to make that sort of transition possible for non-status Indians.
From your point of view, do you feel that additional resources and land are necessary; and, if so, what kinds of resources?
Mr. F. Lewis: That is a difficult one to answer because we are talking about land claims and resources and our tribal council, as I stated, is not in that particular field as of today. With regard to additional sources, I guess funding would have to be number one. There would have to be more funding in that area if the government decides that there is no such thing as non-status people.
Mr. Chartier: I have no further questions. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thanks, Clem.
Any further questions from members of the committee? Mr. Fulton, a further question.
Mr. Fulton: Just one brief comment, Mr. Chairman. I wonder whether or not you would accept the philosophy—I am not asking whether you would accept the politics—put forward by Premier Peckford in Newfoundland that, setting aside your proposal in terms of taxation, until such time as land claims are settled and the issue of title is settled, until such time as the average standard of living per family had reached or gone beyond the average per capita family income across Canada, there would be core funding going to the band level in such amounts as to bring that up within a 5- or a 10-year period.
The reason I say that is to go back to a question that was raised in terms of the megaprojects in this area. This area, northwestern B.C., is impacted right now by more mega-
projects than any other area of the country, and there is no question that the negative impact on native people is much greater than on the general community. I am having a research paper done right now because there is a long-standing myth in Canada that more money per capita is spent on native people than on the general population, but it would appear to be something quite different. It would appear that about one- third of the amount that is spent on the general population in Canada is spent on a per capita basis on reserve.
So my question to you is: Do you generally agree to set aside the taxation idea that you have touched on in your paper to encourage the kind of structure of funding that the chairman touched on to sort of pursue the line of reasoning that the Premier of Newfoundland has used that, based on taxation on resource extraction, based on direct federal core funding, until such time as there is economic development and activity per band and until that has achieved the average per capita family income in Canada, those levels of core funding should be increased?
Mr. F. Lewis: Yes. The levels of core funding would have to be increased if we are going to be living with the impact that is going to be happening or until such a thing has been dealt with. Regarding these mega-projects that are going to have an impact, I think it is the federal government’s responsibility today to see what kind of an impact it is going to have and the results of the impact and how they are going to deal with it, instead of finding out five or 10 years down the road after these megaprojects have been in place and they find out that Indians cannot cope with it or are having more difficulty. I do not know if the federal government has really addressed this problem or whether or not they have plans to address it, but I think it is very important that someone somewhere states to them that there are going to be serious problems about 5 or 10 years down the road and they should have something in place that will eliminate any kind of an impact that these mega- projects are going to have.
Core funding, to us, is very inadequate. If they are going to increase it, it has to be done by at least 500% or 600%, but I do not think they will ever be able to do that.
The Chairman: Thank you, Jim.
Mr. Parnell: I would like to add to what Mr. Lewis was saying in regard to Jim’s question where he mentions whether or not core funding would be provided to the native communities until we reach a level of equivalency to the Canadian society. Whether we do or not, I think our communities will need this core funding from now until our communities end, and I do not think they ever will. So I do not think we should be talking about an end of core funding.
Mr. Fulton: To clarify that, Mr. Chairman, I was just talking about dramatically increasing the level until that point is reached and then reducing it.
The Chairman: Roberta Jamieson, do you have an additional question?
Ms Jamieson: No.
The Chairman: No? Okay. Any further questions from members of the committee? I see no further questions.
I want, then, to thank the North Coast Tribal Council for a thoughtful submission. Certainly, many ideas are put forward in your submission which will be of great help to..us. For the way in which you have responded to our questions we wish to express our appreciation. On behalf of the members of the committee, the effort that has gone into this is of great value to us. Thank you very much for appearing.
Mr. F. Lewis: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the time that we have had here today. We have expressed a very small number of concerns that we have. We know it is going to take your committee a long time to get recommendations that may improve the situation for our people. I guess the brief simply states that the decision should be made at the band level instead of how it is being handled to date. That is the main point of our brief. I would like to thank you people once again, on behalf of the North Coast Tribal Council, for having us here today. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Members of the committee, we hear next from the Nishga Tribal Council. I will call upon the president of the Nishga Tribal Council, James Gosnell, to introduce the other members of the delegation who have accompanied him. We will proceed, then, to receive the brief and will follow the usual pattern, after that, of some discussion and questions. Mr. Gosnell.
Mr. James Gosnell (President, Nishga Tribal Council): Mr. Chairman, if you would excuse us a few minutes, our senators are about to enter the room, our original hereditary chiefs of our nation.
Before we commence, I wish to ask each and every one of our delegation to make a self-introduction. Could you be seated for the moment, please? I will remain standing, myself. We will commence with Ed Wright, and go this way. When we are finished, I will ask each to introduce himself individually.
Mr. Chairman, before we commence this hearing, for our part, we wish to follow our tradition. We will explain later why we asked our hereditary chiefs. We have approximately 30 or 40 chieftains, I believe, in our nation and, due to weather conditions, as you know travelling is kind of difficult from the Nass Valley at this time. We managed to bring only the few of them here. The regalia they wear, as you will note, is the original regalia worn by our hereditary chiefs, who have ruled our land since time immemorial. Before we commence, I will ask one of our senior chiefs, Chief Steanock, to welcome you in our own way. He is going to speak in our language.
Following his address to you, I will ask Percy Tait, who is our official interpreter, to interpret to you what is being said to you in Nishga.
Following that interpretation, I am asked by our council to address this meeting to begin with. After I have finished addressing you, I am going to ask the Bishop of Caledonia to offer a word of prayer, seeking spiritual guidance, because in our presentation to you we will be talking about our land-in part of it—about administration, about what we hope to see in the future, and so on.
Following that, I have asked Chief Alvin McKay, who is second from my right here, to read into the records our submission to your committee. We have it in writing and I will ask Chief McKay to read it into the records. Then we will be expecting some questions from you. Chief.
Chief Steanock: [Chief Steanock speaking in his native language]
Reverend Percy Tait (Translator—New Aiyansh): Members of the special committee, my official capacity is interpreter, also executive assistant to the president and I have recently been ordained to the ministry.
I am happy this afternoon to interpret for you the main points of the brief and address of welcome from each and one of us here today.
The opening remarks explain the reason for the definite colours of our robes. These stories were passed on right from the beginning and exist from time immemorial. Before the light of day we were but spirits. We were but spirits and that is why the black is on the blanket. Then, later on, there was light. I could stand here for hours and days and explain to you how the light came, according to our stories. But the light came and then there was reality; then our people knew where they were, that God placed them on the land where we are today. We have not moved from the land that God gave us. So, we mark the very profound message, I guess, the indication of our blankets, which we always wear when there is a special capacity to be observed.
In this regalia, then, we welcome each and every one of you. We are sorry that right now we are a little bit out of our jurisdiction. This is the land of the Kostan, the Nishga land is beyond the mountains, north of us here.
As the chief went on to say, if we were in our own jurisdiction, we would have made elaborate forms of welcome, in which we would then use the swansdown as a symbol of peace. We would have then displayed the way the swansdown was used, when important matters begin. We must first have peace within our minds, our hearts, that we will reach a just conclusion to whatever may have been discussed. This is the Chiefs way of saying that if were were in the Nishga land, we would have done this.
First, we did not want to compete in the jurisdiction of Tsimshian. Permission has to be given before this is done, but due to the way present day situations are, we are called to meet here. So, the welcome address is somehow a little short of what we really wanted to say to you.
The authority has been passed to our president, who is also hereditary chief of the Eagle Clan. So begin our talks with you today. The chief has expressed concern, if we fall short of very important matters which are to be discussed, because we have gone through many processes of these studies and something honest does not happen. The paper will indicate the depth of our concern and that is the reason why we passed the power of the Nishga to our president, this fine afternoon.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Gosnell: Mr. Chairman, before we commence our presentation to you, I would say a word or two, before asking Chief Councillor McKay to do this honour. First of all, what I wish to say is that I have pretty well over 30 years’ of experience in this work of struggling for justice. As a matter of fact, I think our grandfathers commenced the struggle, before the the first Canadian Constitution came about, over 100 years ago. We are still struggling at this moment. We are still trying to convince your government that the land we are talking about—the Nishga land—is our land, that our title still exists. There is no legal evidence, as far as we are concerned, that our title has been extinguished. And when we speak to you, as our chief has said, we should have been talking to you, standing on our own land. However, I wish to formally thank the Tsimshian Nation for allowing us to make our deliberations on this land, belonging to the Tsimshian people.
In the old days, we could not do these things without their permission, but because—as the chief has indicated—you invited us to come here, and we cannot argue with you to say, “Come up to the Nishga land”, and because you have many people to deal with, we have come here.
So, I wish to thank the Tsimshian Tribe for allowing us to say a word or two on our own behalf, on their lands, this fine afternoon.
What I wish to point out to you, Mr. Chairman, is this is not the first committee to which I have had the opportunity to deliver our concerns. You will note in our paper—I think it was back in 1887 or some time in the eighties—a similar committee of your people came to see what was wrong with these Indians. Why could they not progress? The rest of the ethnic groups have gone on, but the Indian is still trampling around in the mud, behind there somewhere. The reason is very simple. We have got to settle our land claims, first. That is what is deeply in our thoughts and in our minds. We are not going to beat around the bush about this. This is what we want; and you will note this as we go along in our paper, talking about self-government. So we hope your work will have some results, when you address your government as to the way
you see things, as to what is wrong with the Indians, and we hope this will happen.
I have been involved in several hearings. Some of my colleagues here have been involved in Ottawa—hearing after hearing after hearing. And nothing happens. Who knows, maybe after you people conclude your hearings we will still be in the mud, behind you somewhere. There is something wrong somewhere, and that is why it is like that. Why is it that, continuously, our people face 80% 90% of unemployment on our reservation? Canada, I think, has 13% unemployment now, and the whole country is in an uproar, running around creating jobs. Yet, we Indians, we were born with our backs against the wall. We live and die with our backs against the wall. I guess we are a tough race of people. We are still in existence.
We do not intend, Mr. Chairman, to quit our struggle for justice. We have to reach that settlement, an honourable and a just settlement, not only for ourselves but the non-Indian around us. We have said in our declaration that we are prepared to share the land upon which we live with everyone; not only with our neighbouring tribes as we have done in the past, not only with people of British Columbia, but all the peoples of Canada. We have said that. The key word in our declaration, you will note in the little booklet passed around, is the word “sharing”.
So I wish to say, before we commence, and I repeat again, I hope your work as a subcommittee will be fruitful when your government makes its decision as to what you are going to do about us Indians.
Now, before Chief McKay reads this, I will ask our Bishop of Caledonia to ask for guidance that we may reach that level of responsibility someday with you white people, because to us there is no such thing as a federal and a provincial government. You are white men and we are Indians, as simple as that.
Could I ask everyone to stand, please? Bishop, would you offer us a word of prayer.
The Reverend John Hannen (Bishop of Caledonia): Heavenly Father, we meet here in your presence as members of this special committee and as participants in these meetings to do your business for the welfare of all your people. Grant us the grace of your wisdom, patience and love; for each of us to open our hearts and minds that we may truly hear your voice. May we both listen and speak to one another with clarity, honesty, and charity, seeking not our own wills but what is right in your sight, and we will build up in justice your people and our country through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
Mr. Gosnell: I will now ask Chief Alvin McKay to read our submission. I have asked Chief Rod Robinson when questioning starts to direct the questions to those of us who will be answering your questions. I hope you have a lot of questions, and I hope we can answer them all. If we cannot, we will tell you we cannot answer them. Thank you.
Chief Alvin A. McKay (Chief Councillor, Lakalzap, Greenville): Thank you, James. Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee, this is a position paper on Nishga self- government presented by the Nishga Tribal Council to your committee on this date. We would like to draw your attention to the table of contents and we would like you to note that we have appendices attached to our submission. Appendix A is entitled “Nishga Tribal Council Statement on Aboriginal Rights presented to the All Chiefs Conference, Vancouver, January 26, 1982”. Appendix B is entitled “Submissions of the Nishga Tribal Council to the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, Ottawa, December 15, l980”. Appendix C is entitled “In the Matter of the Territory of the Nishga Nation or Tribe of Indians. To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty In Council, 1913”.
All of these appendices, committee members, supplement and augment the contents of the paper I am about to read, and it is our wish that as you study the paper you also peruse these three appendices.
We preface our paper with a quotation from a speech made by Dr. Lloyd Barber, Commissioner of Indian Claims in Canada, in 1974. We feel that these words very adequately describe for us the situation we are caught in today in the fast- moving transitional days, and I quote:
. native people are seriously talking about a distinctly different place within Canadian society, an opportunity for greater self-determination and a fair share of resources based on their original rights. No doubt this will require new and special forms of institutions which will need to be recognized as a part of our political framework.
The Nishga Tribal Council is pleased to have this opportunity to confer with the parliamentary task force on Indian self- government in order to make our views known on this vital subject.
We meet with you as the hereditary leaders and representatives of the government of the Nishga people. We, the Nishga Tribal Council, also include the duly elected chief councillors representing the Kincolith, Lakalsap, Canyon City and Gitlakdamix Bands of Indians. We come from the Nass Valley which is part of the land and territory we and our ancestors have owned, occupied, and governed since time immemorial.
We sit with you today at a very important moment in the history of our people and our relationship with the govern-
ments of Canada. For, as this committee knows, we are currently at a time when your governments are at long last seriously addressing the question of whether to continue with the policies of assimilation of our culture which have underlain all your efforts in the past, or whether to firmly recognize our rights as a unique and self-determining people. A number of forums have been established wherein our rights are being considered. There is of course this committee’s proceedings. There is also our land claims process which, as this committee will know, has been going on for the better part of a decade. Finally, there is the constitutional process leading up the First Minister’s Conference presently scheduled for the middle of March 1983. All of these proceedings will have to consider our position concerning our right to our own government.
Furthermore, while these forums are new, our message is not. We, the Nishga people, have been governing ourselves according to our own forms of government since time immemorial. We have never surrendered this right to govern ourselves, nor has it been taken from us by conquest. Our past councils and organizations are alive and well and functioning today. The significant difference between our governing activities today and our governing activities of 200 years ago is that your governments and your people have refused to recognize, and in fact have consciously tried to destroy, our jurisdiction over our lands, our lives, and our culture.
Since the day of contact our ancestors have rejected your unjust claim to the title of our land. Over the years we have consistently restated our position. We petitioned the British king in 1913. We made our presentations to the McKenna- McBride Commission. We took our case on aboriginal title to the Supreme Court of Canada; we presented our case before the joint Senate-House of Commons committee on the constitution in December of 1980.
We sit with you today and will be represented at the first ministers conference in March. We will take and use every opportunity to pursue the just recognition of our aboriginal title and our right to self-government. It must be remembered that our right to self-government, like all our rights, flows from our title to lands of the Nass Valley. We as a nation collectively own the land and everything in it.
Our people have owned and cared for the land since time immemorial. This is why we demand that aboriginal title must be recognized in the Constitution. The land, language, and laws of our culture cannot be separated. Everything for the Nishga people… our way of life, our meansof earning income, our relationships with each other and with the rest of the world—all are based on our ownership of our land. This is why our people say that self-government is our right, as a collective people, to protect our lands, to protect our culture, and to pursue and strengthen our way of life in every respect.
This is also why our right to self-government, which for our people flows directly from our ownership of the land, must be clearly set out and entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. No structure wherein our council’s authority is simply an exercise of delegated jurisdiction from the federal or the provincial government will satisfy our legitimate needs and aspirations. This is because, as we have explained, our right to self-government comes from our historical ownership of the land since time immemorial. It is a sacred as well as a political right. It is not something which we are asking you for, nor indeed something which you can give us. The jurisdiction over our land and people is simply not yours to give.
Chief David Mackay made this point very explicitly when speaking to a royal commission in 1887. He said: “They”—the government . . .
. . . have never bought it from us or our forefathers. They have never fought and conquered our people and taken the land in that way, and yet they say now that they will give us so much land—our own land. These chiefs do not talk foolishly, they know the land is their own; our forefathers for generations and generations past had their land here all around us; chiefs have had their own hunting grounds, their salmon streams, places where they got their berries; it has always been so. It is not only during the last four or five years that they have seen the land; we have always seen and owned it; it is no new thing, it has been ours for generations. If we had only seen it for twenty years and claimed it as our own, it would have been foolish, but it has been ours for thousands of years. If any strange person came here and saw the land for twenty years and claimed it, he would be foolish . . .
Furthermore, authority which is delegated can be taken away in the future. We need entrenched and long-standing guarantees that the functioning of our ownership and governing of our land and people will not be interfered with in the years and decades to come.
However, it is important that we not be misunderstood on this point. While we assert our title and our right to self- government, we are not demanding total sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction in all matters concerning our land and our people. We have always said we would share. As we go through the process which will identify and define our relationship with the rest of Canada, our place within Confederation, there will of course be areas where we will share our jurisdiction with your governments and areas where we will yield jurisdiction altogether. These are matters to be worked out through the negotiating process to which we are already committed. Clearly, we wish to know your position regarding which areas of jurisdiction you would like us to share with you.
Nor are we saying that there will be necessarily hundreds of completely different arrangements for each aboriginal nation that presently exists within Canada. Any realistic relationship with aboriginal peoples of Canada will be based on the understanding that while there are profound historical differences between the various aboriginal peoples, there are also profound historical similarities.
For example, most of us here in British Columbia and in the northern territories have never entered into a treaty with Canada or the British Crown. This fact represents a similarity shared by western and northern native peoples and is an important difference between ourselves and our brothers who have signed treaties. However, not to recognize the latter difference is to perpetuate the inherent policy assumption that our future has already been negotiated by the aboriginal people east of the Rocky Mountains.
Even so, in legislating for the non-treaty nations, it is possible that different arrangements will have to be worked out. But the basic position of all groups will ultimately be similar: namely, that we have a right to self-government and preservation of our culture through our ownership and control of the land.
A key point for this committee to bear in mind is that our relationship with the rest of Canada, and the linkages between our communities, must be developed from the local level rather than imposed from the highest level down, as has been done in the past. This is why we reject the historical policies of Indian government as contained in the present Indian Act. It is no secret that the role of the Indian Act has been to assimilate aboriginal people and to turn local governments, tribal councils, and band offices into extensions of the federal bureaucracy.
The process which is now being set in place must recognize the autonomy of bands and band councils and other forms of tribal government and perceive them as a link with, and not an extension of, the other Canadian governments. We must set in place a process leading toward free structures of aboriginal government which for the first time are based upon our rights and not upon government policy. This is why we say that this is a very historical moment. For the first time we are being consulted about our government, we are being consulted about the direction which your government will take.
We have of course until now been talking about our governmental goals in relation to the way in which our people have traditionally governed themselves on our land. We recognize, however, that it is impossible to implement all the necessary changes overnight. There will be a period of transition from the old colonial assimilationist policies to the new ordering of relationships based upon title and rights which will respect and provide for our cultural uniqueness. We therefore urge this committee to make recommendations for the interim period as well.
Any aboriginal act or acts should be modified in such a way as to support and allow our self-governments to reverse the direction of the last 150 years. They should be designed to expand our governments’ jurisdictions and to evolve traditional forms of government into forms which will be capable both of successfully interacting with the other levels of Canadian authority and also of preserving our autonomy, traditional culture, and world view. The changes that should be made to the Indian Act should not be thought of as ultimate solutions, but rather as a step toward implementing a new and more just relationship between our governments.
In order to set up this task, it is necessary to examine some of our concerns reflected by the day-to-day problems faced by our tribal council and band governments as they attempt to work within the unsatisfactory legal and bureaucratic framework which has been forced upon us. By setting out to remedy these identifiable concerns in a way which clearly contemplates the constitutionally entrenched rights to self-government, with agreed upon areas of jurisdiction, this committee will be taking an important step on the path to our people’s rightful place within Confederation.
In this regard there are matters which we could bring to your attention today. We could talk about inadequate housing, sewer systems and fire protection well below Canadian standards. We could talk about the lack of economic development and high unemployment rates in our communities. We could talk about the specifics of government programs, policies and regulations. We could talk about how the energy and talent of Indian communities are drained and wasted, reacting to the self-perpetuating bureaucracy of your government.
However, we are not here to talk about the pot holes on the road to self-government, which we can best pave ourselves with the jurisdictional authority to do so. We wish to put forward suggestions for creating a new order in the Canadian aboriginal relationship. We wish to put forward suggestions which will facilitate a smooth transitional—an interim step in the eventual re-establishment of Nishga self-government
First, although the federal government currently gives legal recognition to the band and band council, it gives no such recognition to the tribe and tribal council. As indicated, the Nishga Tribal Council is but a recent edition of such a Nishga entity reaching back to the pre-contact era. It is our tribal council which has made the most positive advancements on behalf of our people, for example, School District No. 92— Nisgha—the Calder Case, the current process of re-establishing Nishga control over health services.
Further, tribal councils, in general, are a fact of life in British Columbia Indian politics today and have similar roots
to our own. Yet despite their existence, and the acknowledgement of their represcntativeness, they are the subject of intensive policy debate and bureaucratic in-fighting within Indian and Northern Affairs currently.
Any tribal council which attempts to responsibly function as an incorporated entity must do so within the British Columbia Societies Act. Thus, if it wishes to deliver governmental services, it will do so as a non-Indian provincial institution contracting with Indian and Northern Affairs much like any Lions Club could. Even band councils can only deliver Indian and Northern Affairs programs by memorandum of agreement. Clearly, the foregoing are untenable conditions for aboriginal government.
Similarly, any aboriginal entity incorporating, whether it be a school board, health board or business enterprise, loses its aboriginal identity upon incorporation. Clearly, this must be addressed in such a manner to permit all aboriginal institutions to function as aboriginal persons within federal jurisdiction. In particular, the tribe and tribal councils must be so legally recognized in Canadian law.
Secondly, along with the radical perceptual shifts which must take place, mechanisms must be put in place which interconnect the band council and tribal councils in law and link those councils with the other Canadian governments. Included in the concept of Nishga communities interconnecting and linking jurisdictionally with the federal and provincial governments must be the creation of appropriate financial arrangements, By definition, such linkages cannot be based upon current concepts of devolution and the transfer of program delivery to band councils. There is irrefutable evidence that the concept of nationally developed and bureaucratically defined programs is a failure. It simply does not matter which organization or agency delivers such programs. We, the aboriginal people, must find our own answers, create our own programs for reconstruction, and occasionally make our own mistakes. Therefore, jurisdictional and financial linkages must establish and define both the revenue-generating and revenue-sharing responsibilities of each government.
One of the tragedies of the present system of Indian administration is the inability of our communities to get our real needs brought before Parliament on a systematic and continuing basis. Occasionally, Parliament is able to recognize our needs in general and vote millions of dollars to their alleviation. However, rarely, if ever, can it be shown that the machinery of government has successfully delivered the appropriate medicine, at the appropriate time, in the appropriate dose. The bureapcratically manipulated needs system has historically left our communities sinking deeper and deeper into the mire. Such a system must give way to statutory funding formulae, and transfer agreements based upon jurisdictions, rights and community-determined priorities.
Central to any solutions being found is I the fact that the federal government must radically reorganize itself. We can no longer put up with conducting our daily lives under the duress of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Develop-
ment. The department as such must be largely eliminated. This will free up great amounts of energy, talent and resources, both within the federal government and our communities, to achieve our goals.
We urge you to consider mechanisms, such as a minister of aboriginal government, whose sole responsibility would be to facilitate the intergovernmental relationships. Complementing such a mechanism could be an aboriginal government ombudsman who would protect the individual and collective interests of all Canadians in relation to the exercise of federal and aboriginal government authority.
It has been stated that new and dynamic solutions are required. We know those solutions will come only following radical shifts in the perceptions you all bring to the problems. In particular, you must acknowledge that a self-determined Nishga government, based upon our aboriginal title and rights, must be given full recognition in Canadian law. You must acknowledge that only in this way will the tragic problems and deplorable conditions facing our communities be resolved. Only by such a recognition will a realistic and pragmatic mechanism be put in place which will provide a positive, productive, enriched and dignified future for all Canadians.
We urge the task force to seek out, on our behalf, further ideas for the achievement of our objective. We urge you to be the eyes and ears of the Nishga people as you cross Canada considering these matters. We urge you to include in your public report recommendations for consultation processes to consider the options you put forward.
We invite you to query us as you wish. We are certainly prepared to meet with you again or provide any further explanation in writing.
We wish you God’s speed.
The Chairman: Thank you, Chief McKay. Are there any further comments from the delegation before we commence with some questions?
Mr. Rod Robinson: No. I believe we will now be receptive to any questioning.
The Chairman: Thank you very much. A point of order, from Roberta Jamieson.
Ms. Jamieson: . . . I wonder if we could agree to include the appendices that are in the presentation from the Nishga Tribal Council, as well as the other document we all received? Could they be produced as part of today’s Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence?
The Chairman: My suggestion, Roberta, would be that if they could be filed in today’s Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, as exhibits, that would not then unduly delay the printing of that publication. They would be printed and be available to anyone on request through the Committees Branch. Would that be agreeable?
Ms Jamieson: That would delay it if we do not . . .
The Chairman: It will delay it. The Official Languages Act requires the translation. It is a long delay and I know that
there has already been some criticism that the publications of our *Minutes of Proceedings… Already there is a time lag and people want to get this quite quickly. If they are filed as exhibits then, upon request, they can be make available.
Ms Jamieson: Fine, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: At no expense, by the way, to anybody who asks for them.
Is it agreed, then, that the accompanying appendices be filed in our Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence as exhibits?
Mr. Allmand: Including the documents.
The Chairman: Yes, thank you, Mr. Allmand; including the document, Citizens Plus.
Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Chairman: It is so ordered.
Roberta Jamieson, would you like to begin the questioning?
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We had a very inspiring, very strong presentation from the Nishga Tribal Council; and knowing of the Nishga Tribal Council, I would have expected no less. They have displayed themselves to be a very forceful nation in the country, and I commend them for their presentation today. I too am sorry we did not go to Nishga country to hear from them, but I would like to get into that a little further a little bit later.
First of all, your presentation states you believe the right to self-government should be entrenched in the Constitution. But you also believe hundreds of completely different arrangements for each aboriginal nation will have to be concluded to set matters straight between Indian nations in Canada and the federal government.
You are now involved in land claims negotiations. You also called for other processes to be set up to work out these arrangements. I wonder if you could tell me if you have given any thought to how these arrangements should be set up. For instance, should they be negotiating arrangements, with Indian nations sitting as equals with the federal government? Do you think the provinces have any say in that, or should they be involved? Just how do you see that proceeding?
Mr. R. Robinson: I think I will break the ice here. The rest of my colleagues here are equally competent to respond to any . . .
Yes, as stated in our paper,’ we have these ongoing processes, such as the land claims and the Constitution. If we are successful right across Canada… We are a part of that movement. I believe we now have a consensus across Canada for a certain degree of unity in which to entrench aboriginal title, aboriginal rights and treaty rights, therefore accommodating every situation of Indians across Canada. As you know, we are non-treaty; so we have certain strategies in which to push forward our position.
Ms Jamieson: Do you think these processes should involve not only land claims settlement but discussions of sharing of political power in this country?
Mr. R. Robinson: I would say this is subject to negotiation. As you know, in our opinion, some of the questions we are asking ourselves—and no doubt you are contemplating asking us—are premature. Right now we do not know what rights we have. Until we have a clear definition from the government on just what those rights are . . . We know what our rights are, but they are not recognized by the Canadian government or Canadian society. When there is a change of attitude, I think we will be able to negotiate; but it is subject to negotiation.
As our paper indicates, we are looking for an interim report from you; and by the same token, we are proposing interim measures towards self-government. So it is subject to negotiation until such time as we know what powers we have. We were at a loss to say yes to any of these questions.
Ms Jamieson: The reason I asked the question is that until today Indian bands and Indian governments have been involved in discussions with government on services. Land claims discussion seems to centre on some land, some money, and ultimate extinguishment. There does not seem to be much interest so far in Canada for the federal government to discuss the political sharing of decision-making.
I take very seriously your comment in the paper that central to any discussion of Indian self-government is the fact that their government must recognize it has to reorganize itself radically; and I assume you also mean politically reorganize itself. Is that accurate?
Mr. R. Robinson: Yes, that is accurate. By “radical”, as you know, we mean we have evolved to a degree where we now can look after ourselves and occasionally make our own mistakes. Now, in the past, we know the bureaucracy has made many mistakes; but no one has taken them to task for it. So we see there must be a radical change. We know the government bureaucracies are deeply entrenched. It is going to be pretty hard to make the change, but it must be radical in order for us to be able to govern ourselves.
First of all, we have to sever the strings that attach us to the bureaucracies right now. Right now, under the system now in existence, we have no freedom whatsoever. We cannot make any decisions. It is subject—according to the Indian Act, that is the way it is worded—to the minister’s approval. We can sit for days and try to arrive at decisions that will improve the situation of our people; but somewhere down the road, a minister can overturn the decision.
So, yes, we mean that. It must be a radical change.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
I asked the previous witness, and I would like to ask you as well, about what role you have, if any, right now in the resource development that is going on in this area. What role do you think you should have, if you are not having a role or enough of a role?
Mr. R. Robinson: We do not have a role at the moment. As you know, the Nishgas have been very vocal on this. I will give you an example of what has happened.
Sure, there is funding now available for the mega-projects to gauge the socio-economic impact on the community. But in our case, such as the mining, about which we have been very vocal, no such mechanisms were put in. We had no say whatsoever about development; and to this day, we still do not have any say on it. We want to be able to sit beside you, the government, and make decisions. As joint partners, we should be able to say yes or no to any development.
But for your information and for the record, the Nishga Tribal Council is not opposed to development of any kind, provided, first of all, the government put in a mechanism where they would gauge the possible impact. This has not happened in our case. We have been very vocal. We have just been reactionary to the various moves of the government, for your information.
The government granted a permit to a mining company, for example, far exceeding the existing fishery regulations. They bypassed it through some legislation, with a total disregard to the environment. Now, had we had some voice in it, we would have said: No, let us slow down here; let us see what it is going to do to the environment.
So we are not opposed to development of any kind, provided, of course, proper measures are first put in there.
We have other colleagues who may wish to add, with your permission.
Mr. Stuart Leggatt (Legal Counsel, Nishga Tribal Council): Mr. Chairman, I just want to add something that must be said on that subject. We own these lands. We own these lands, and legal advice is that we own these lands. The Supreme Court of Canada split, but we feel confident in advising the Nishga Tribal Council they own these lands. Therefore, every question must come from that position.
I might say the Nishga Tribal Council has one of the strongest claims to pure ownership of title in the country; and so when you ask the question about sharing and so on, I hope we will be careful. It is a case of clear title in the common-law sense.
Ms Jamieson: I agree with you very strongly. I wonder what response you get from the federal government when you are vocal and say: Look, this is our land; you have not talked to us and you do not respect us and we should have a controlling say in the development.
Mr. Gosnell: The fact of the matter is that in our negotiations with the federal and provincial governments they have continuously denied the existence of the title. That is where the block is. They have continuously denied the existence of the title. We have based our negotiating position on the existence of the title. We say we own the land and they say it is Crown land. They even say that the question of the Nishga aboriginal
title is a cloud over sovereignty. We say it is the opposite: the questionof the British Crown, or sovereignty, is a cloud over the aboriginal people—us. We were here first, you know.
Ms Jamieson: I have other questions, Mr. Chairman, but I think I will pass for now and maybe come back on the second round. Thank you.
The Chairman: Okay.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to compliment you on your brief. It has been very carefully thought through. You have placed the real moral dilemma before the committee. It is something the federal government has just barely started to take cognizance of—the office of native claims has been set up and the negotiation process and so on have been set up.
There are a couple of points in here that raise certain thoughts in my mind, which I would like to share with you and get your comments on. It is clear to me—and I think it is clear to most people in this room and to most members of Parliament— that certainly in most of British Columbia, outside, certainly, of Treaty No. 8 and the small treaties on Vancouver Island, the land of British Columbia is aboriginal land. The reason why it is not being accepted and there is this reticence to move that I have seen in the four years I have been in Parliament is that there is some kind of latent paranoia, almost, amongst people who are in power in Cabinet, in going forward with a really moral and just, honest negotitation to settle the issue, that there will be a resource revenue loss, that there will be complications and difficulties in jurisdiction, and so on.
One of the points you raise, I think, is something that this committee needs to reflect on very carefully in writing any kind of summary following these meetings. It is on page 8, in the third paragraph, where you say: “By definition such linkages . . . ” —and you are talking about legal and jurisdictional arrangements . . .
. . . cannot be based upon current concepts of “devolution” and the transfer of program delivery to Band Councils.
I would like to get your comments on whether or not, from a moral point of view and perhaps from a legal and political point of view, what this committee should be considering in terms of Indian self-government, should any legislation come forward, changes to the Indian Act or any of those kinds of federal devices, is that there be a sunset law attached to any kind of devolution, in that following completion of negotiations and the delivery of title from the federal jurisdiction to the Nishga people, to the Haida people, or to any other aboriginal groups, during the period between now and then, while we are assessing what evidence we are hearing and while we are looking at this, we are talking about getting rid of the DIA bureaucracy, getting towards core funding. I think you used an elequent analogy there—or metaphor; whichever it is—in terms of there being a lot of potholes in the road but that you can pave them much more efficiently and effectively your-
selves than the Indian Act, or DIA, or federal programs and plans so far have been able to do.
It seems to me that there is a moral task, which you have laid before this committee and which we now have to reflect on, which perhaps in the early stages of this committee was not foremost in the minds of the committee members. It is that we should not be thinking of somehow designing another act or some other kind of further bureaucracy, but that there should be a sunset provision; following the transition to full aboriginal title, and following the resumption of traditional powers by band councils and by tribal governments, that the self- govcrnment we are talking about here should have a sunset provision that it no longer apply. I would like to get your comments on the sunset concept.
The second point is in relation to interlocking jurisdictions, which you touched on. I would assume, when you are saying that, that there are some things, for example, perhaps—just to extract one out of the air . . . external affairs, or defence—they may not be the right ones—jurisdictions such as that, which you might consider still to be federal.
If you touch on sunset, and on those jurisdictions, I have another point I would like to raise with you.
Mr. McKay: To start the ball rolling, Roberta asked an interesting question about where we begin in proclaiming and establishing some of these new changes. I think where we have to begin is with what you have touched on, and that is central to this whole issue of impasse and deadlock that we are facing in land negotiation and our bid for more autonomy in self- govcrnmcnt. It is the very fact that we have two governments in Canada who refuse to share; and the important sharing is power. They refuse to give up any power. I do not know what they are afraid of, if we get some power to govern ourselves. I do not know what they are afraid of.
You talk about one of these jurisdictional things—that we might give up defence. We talked about it. We find we only have one cannon in the Nass valley. How do you compare that with cruise missiles? So we made up our minds that we will give up that whole area of defence.
I think what is really central to any questions that you will ask today is is the reluctance of these two governments to share power, to give up power. That is basically what is causing the impasse, or having the sunset effect on decisions that have to be made.
We opened our presentation today by starting with our traditional hereditary chieftains, and as the interpreter explained, they have the right to govern, they have the authority and the power. The only reason why we do not have that power right now is because of the Indian Act. It is that Indian Act and this matter of the Constitution that are, I guess, the stumbling blocks: the two governments refuse to share power with us. When you talk about a moral issue, Jim, I think this is the thing they have to look at, that the governments have to consider seriously. If we are going to move anywhere in catching up with the rest of so-called western society, and also in establishing ourselves as self-determining,
self-governing people, we need to share that power with those two governments.
Mr. Fulton: If I could touch again on the sharing of jurisdiction, it seems to me that following the resolution of title—and let us take the Nass Valley as an example, since it is before us now—to take two examples, one obvious area from a provincial jurisdiction would be forestry and one obvious one from the federal jurisdiction would be fisheries. I would assume that when we are talking about self-government now, as opposed to the devolution of powers, or the rewriting of the Indian Act, and so on, that on Nishga tribal lands, within the Nishga nation, there would be forestry officers, there would be a forestry consulting network. If there were going to be logging, there would be decisions made within council by those people who were knowledgeable in the area. There would be a requirement, then, for a dovetailing of legal jurisdiction with the province.
Perhaps you could comment on that.
It would be the same in terms of fisheries, for example, where there were streams or spawning beds or migrating fish, and the harvesting of fish and so on: there would be powers of self-government on those lands. This is, I think, where the committee needs to grapple with this concept morally. We are not just talking about the land and the subsurface rights, the waters that flow and everything that is on the land. The powers you are touching on are very important in that there be a dovetailing so there would be a responsible legal body on Nishga lands which would be responsible for fisheries. If Fisheries came up from Prince Rupert and said that they wanted to talk about a fisheries issue, then you would have someone there with a legal mandate, operating within your own traditional power and legal structure.
Mr. R. Robinson: Do you want to respond to that, Bruce?
Mr. Bruce E. Cottingham (Adviser, Nishga Tribal Council): I think you are on the right track in terms of the concept you have in your mind about what we are saying here. I think we are also hesitant to discuss the particular aspects of it because of the nature of the ongoing land claim negotiations at the present time. In other words, we presently have a forum set up to negotiate those matters. But I think you are on the right track in that area.
Secondly, when you refer to a sunset concept, we have a little trouble with that phrase, because many of us think that things should last as long as the rivers shall flow and the sun shall last, so perhaps there is a problem there. But I think we are essentially talking the same language, in that we have set out in this paper that the interim stage should be a winding down of the department in its present role, and that winding down shall take place within the context of delegated authority as it presently exists. The stage to which we hope to move is
one in which the authority shall no longer be delegated from either the federal or the provincial government but rather that Nishga self-government will flow directly from the Constitution.
Mr. R. Robinson: This will be an agreement to be struck by both parties.
Mr. Cottingham: I would further add to your other point about the moral question, which you indicate has perhaps been brought before the committee for the first time—I am pleased you mentioned that, because I think the way in which the Nishga people have presented themselves here today, the fact that you have a Nishga chief who is the bishop here, shows, as we have indicated in the paper, that the land, language, laws and the culture of the people are inseparable, and part of that is the spiritual aspect of the culture in its comprehensive sense, and the issues before this committee are moral issues. We have said in the paper that the right to self-government is a sacred as well as a political right.
Mr. Fulton: May I make one more comment, Mr. Chairman’?
Perhaps you could give me your comments on whether or not you might agree that the most useful focus this committee could bring to Parliament would be to go back and write a one- paragraph recommendation in terms of self-government, that aboriginal title be settled and then the committee come back again.
Mr. Cottingham: Precisely the position.
Mr. R. Robinson: You hit the nail right on the head.
Mr. Cottingham: A very good summary.
The Chairman: Warren Allmand.
Mr. Allmand: This brief is so comprehensive and so clear that there are not too many questions to ask. In fact, I have very few.
First of all, on page 9 of your brief you speak of the eventual elimination of the department to free up resources and funds so that Indian governments can more effectively run their own affairs, and you suggest that there could be a minister of aboriginal government and an aboriginal government ombudsman. Recognizing that the so-called trust relationship has been abused over the years and that it is in a legal never-never land for the moment as a result of the Musqueam case, about which we were told yesterday that there will be a request for an appeal next week, how do you foresee the trust relationship under the plan you propose? Would you like to see a trust relationship remain in a minister—perhaps a minister of aboriginal government, as you suggest—who would exercise those trust responsibilities as they really should be exercised, or do you also see the trust responsibility phasing out as you achieve self-government?
Mr. R. Robinson: I will start a response and then perhaps some of our technical people can add to my comments.
Right now it is a theoretical question. As you have said yourself, that question has been abused. Right now it just cannot be defined, because it is premature and it has to be subject to the land claim settlement process; that has to be included.
As you mentioned, Mr. Allmand, the question of how services are delivered has been much debated. I am just going to use a ballpark figure as a demonstration. We hear that the Treasury Board has allocated $60 billion, which is something I am picking out of thin air to use as a demonstration. By the time it gets to us, it is sopped up; I think we only get about 40%, and it does not make you people very happy. I know because I keep up with Hansard, which I get thanks to Jim. I notice that the members of Parliament are not very happy about how much money is being spent on Indians. They figure it is a tax burden, which it is not, to our way of thinking.
We want to see a better delivery of those funds coming to us. Therefore we want to eliminate the Department of Indian Affairs, because they are siphoning off quite a lot of those funds for administrative purposes. It starts in Ottawa, then it goes to the region and then it goes to the district. How much actually goes to the Indians? I think this should be disclosed to the general taxpayer, which has not been done, because John Q. Public out there is hollering, hey, we hear about all these dollars of the taxpayers’ money going to the Indians. They do not know the truth. They should know the truth, that most of that money goes towards administration. This is part of the radical change that we wish to see.
I am going to go just this far, and maybe someone else will wish to comment.
Mr. Leggatt: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Allmand’s question dealt with the traditional trust responsibility of the federal government. We are not under any illusions that in looking at the provincial or the federal governments we would be better in the tender mercy of the provincial government. In other words, given an imperfect world, the consensus is that we would see the trust responsibility being phased out, certainly not transferred to a provincial authority.
On the legal side, we have some concern about the present system of the Ministry of Justice being judge, jury and everything in regard to decisions taken with regard to Indian people in this country. We find that some no doubt knowledgeable lawyer in the department is arbitrating the affairs of the native people of Canada, and we think that is wrong. Outside of the Indian constitution, which we hope to see—but in the interim period, we think the case and the place for those decisions is in a court of law, not simply a representative of the Ministry of Justice.
That is a complaint my clients have and continue to have.
We are still, of course—I am going to predicate your question again with the difficulty we have here in responding in great detail to questions prior to the settlement of the title to the Nass Valley lands. That still becomes a very large barrier for us to be completely fulsome in our answers, because quite frankly, my advice to my clients has been not to prejudice those negotiations by limiting in any way what is on the table to be negotiated in the position that you see and that we have always kept to and that we have never deviated from: that we have owned these lands from time immemorial.
Mr. Allmand: I hope I will not be misunderstood in my question. It was really whether you see in the future, according to the proposals you made, whether there would be any need of keeping a trust responsibility with the federal government. Some scholars have suggested that a proper exercise of trust responsibility would be to assist the trustee to achieve full self- government, which has not been done in Canada in the past, and always to act on behalf of the trustee, such as the Musqueam have alleged in their case, which was not done.
Some of the bands that have come before us have said they want the recognition of their right to self-government in the Constitution, but they still see a continuing need for a trust responsibility. I am merely asking these questions because I want to understand fully what Indian people want in Canada. It is confusing sometimes to try to reconcile in the long run full self-government with a continuing trust responsibility, and I just wanted to have your views.
Reverend John A. MacKenzie (Advisor, Nishga Tribal Council): The Nishga Tribal Council spent quite a lot of time looking at that problem, and will continue to do so. One conclusion is that there ought not to be any major changes in that until the question of aboriginal title and some agreements are made and a negotiated settlement is reached. So to answer your question becomes impossible, except to say the degree of the trust relationship will reflect the nature of the agreement. In other words, if the agreement is enshrined constitutionally and has enough safeguards in the recognition of aboriginal title and the self-government that stems from that ownership, then there may be very little, if any, trust relationship.
But that is the unknown, because clearly the trust relationship, for all its problems, its dependencies and horror stories, has in fact protected, as treaty Indians would say, the land that remains, and has in fact protected native people from being totally decimated by provincial governments, who up until 15 years ago did not even recognize native people existed, except in some kind of passing way.
Mr. Allmand: I think that is a good answer, and it certainly helps me.
My second question: on pages 8 and 9 you deal with appropriate financial arrangements. You say there must be appropriate financial arrangements and you say that the present system must give way to statutory funding formulae and transfer agreements based on jurisdiction, rights, and community-determined priorities.
Again, to be clear in what you are telling us, are you saying that the new funding arrangements… and some bands have suggested block funding; we were discussing that with the last witnesses—are you suggesting they should not be merely new and statutory, but also entrenched in the Constitution? I point out that in the last round of constitutional discussions, in the last two years, the provinces finally got the federal government to agree to the entrenchment of equalization. In Section 36(2) of the constitutional act of 1981 it says:
Parliament and the Government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at comparable levels of taxation.
In other words, that is a constitutional measure now, not just statutory. That overrides ordinary fiscal arrangements and statutes. It is a constitutional measure.
So what I am asking is are you suggesting that the assurance of proper funding be not merely in ordinary statute, but also entreched in the Constitution, as the provinces have got it to be entrenched?
Mr. Cottingham: I believe our response to that question is that the question is premature and reflects the fact that this committee itself is somewhat premature and is somewhat the cart before the horse, in that we have the constitutional conference ahead of us, and as well we have the land claim process going on presently, to answer those particular questions. However, I think what you refer to there could be useful in suggesting ways it could be useful in what we describe as the “interim phase”—if that helps to answer you.
Mr. Allmand: Just a comment. As the chairman pointed out at the beginning, we are a committee of members of Parliament from all political parties, and whatever the government finally agrees upon with the Indian people of Canada would, I suppose, in one way or another, have to go to Parliament. So we are trying to do our work as legislators while the government is doing its work and we want to be ready for them to accept, reject, or amend, if they do not do it well—the governments.
About the interim arrangements suggested on page 6 and following—it says:
The changes that should be made to the Indian Act should not be thought of as ultimate solutions, but rather as a step toward implementing a new and more just relationship between our governments.
That conveys to me that you are not opposed to interim amendments to the Indian Act even before full entrenchment can be achieved in the Constitution, recognizing rights. Again,
I want to be clear on that, because some of the Indian witnesses to our committee said they do not want any changes in the Indian Act—they want nothing done at all to the Indian Act—until aboriginal title is recognized in the Constitution and the right to government is recognized. Then they would deal with amendments to the Indian Act. Again, would you just clarify your position for me on that?
Mr. Gosnell: Mr. Chairman, I guess I have to go back to the national decision. I believe it was in 1968 when the Indians were asked about what they had proposed to change in the Indian Act. At the conference in Ottawa at that time I was one of the nine delegates who represented British Columbia. The national decision at that time was that after five days of deliberation it was decided on the national level of Indian leadership that the Indian Act should not be amended at all until all land claims in Canada had been settled, for the simple reason that the Indian Act clearly legally identifies the Indian people. When you identify the Indian people, the land also is identified with them.
I have to go back to that decision at that time. Since then there have been many changes in Indian leadership—since 1968, when this decision was made at the national level.
Talking about the changes to the Indian Act, we do not see any reason why we should agree to any drastic changes. Our ultimate goal is to settle the question of our ownership of the land and then we will discuss and decide what changes there should be. This is a position we took in 1968 on the national level, and I do not believe there has been any decision on the national level to this day, because approximately 40% of the land mass of Canada has not been settled to this time. And that clearly identifies the Indian: who he is and what lands he is talking about.
So perhaps we could agree on a minor change; but a drastic change,no.
The main, ultimate goal of our council is to settle the question of the land. You take the case of the status of women: line, we do not object to that if there are going to be changes in the interim. We do not object to the status of women; how they lost their status, for example. That does not bother us in that light as long as the identity is there. That was the national decision made in 1968.
Mr. Cottingham: Further to that, I think Mr. Gosnell is also saying that the Nishga Tribal Council is speaking for the Nishga people and not for all of the native people in Canada on the issue. But also, I believe, in our discussions we agreed that obviously if there are other groups who would wish to
have—for instance, the Sechelt—the Sechelt Indian band act or whatever, that is not our affair.
However, you should also be aware, as you hopefully are, that Section 4 of the present Indian Act allows for the the Lieutenant Governor in Council to change, at the request, presumably, of a band or band council . . .
Mr. Allmand: Governor General in Council.
Mr. Cottingham: —Governor General in Council; sorry—to change or eliminate or declare that all sections except 37 to 41 do not apply to particular Indians or Indian bands. So there is a section there which allows for considerable leeway presently, until the act is changed to a larger extent. Unfortunately, the history of the department and its bureaucracy and the justice system, as Mr. Leggatt has pointed out, has been such that when proposals have been put forward from time to time by native people, the Department of Indian Affairs and the justice system, the Department of Justice, seemed to keep that area tightened right up as if it was impossible to do anything with that Section 4, when in fact it states that you can do just about everything except Sections 31 to 47. I am not sure if I have those exact sections right, but it is a very limited few and it has to do with surrenders. So there is leeway there to move considerably.
We are saying that in contemplating the future, in the interim stage in the contemplation of self-government flowing directly from the Constitution, perhaps the bureaucrats and the people in Justice and the minister should give serious consideration to opening up Section 4 at any request of any band or any group in contemplating that people do want change and need change now.
Mr. Allmand: Those answers are very helpful. Thank you very much.
Mr. McKay: To go on with the Indian Act question, I think before you consider any type of revisions we would rather see a real effort from your government to engage in a very broad, liberal interpretation of what is there already. I think any of the senior bureaucrats we have to deal with in DIA take too strong a stand on the letter-of-the-law interpretation of that Indian Act. We would much rather see a broader, liberal interpretation of those acts that we question, especially when a band council wants some leeway in dealing with the operation of their village. Quite often we are just simply told by a district manager, that is what the Indian Act says; no way, boys. So I think we would prefer to encourage your government further to encourage the Department of Indian Affairs to take a look at what is there and consult with us and enter into a broader, liberal interpretation of the Indian Act right now.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Allmand.
Mr. Frank Oberle, questions? No?
Any further questions from any members of the committee? have you down for second round.
Mr. Chartier, questions?
Mr. Clem Chartier (Ex officio member of the subcommitee): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chief Gosnell, hereditary chiefs and elders, Nishga Council, I would just like to mention that I have read the Calder case many times over the past few years and I think it does me good to be here to be able to see people in person. Now when I go back and read it again I can at least identify with the people the decision is talking about.
Chief Gosnell, you mentioned in your opening statement that as far as you are concerned, in the country now known as Canada there are basically two peoples: the Indian peoples and the white man. I am here representing the Native Council of Canada, of which the United Native Nations is the provincial organization, and particularly here to address the issue of the non-status Indians, those Indians who have lost their rights under the Indian Act. I would like a few comments from you or somebody else on your council as to how you view the situation of the non-status Indians and how possibly that issue could be resolved through the work of your tribal council.
Mr. Gosnell: Mr. Chairman, to our people, the Nishga people, there is no such thing as a non-status Nishga. We can only address the question of non-status in our tribe, and I think we have championed that idea of not recognizing the non- status. I am not saying the people; it is the idea behind it. Let us not ever forget that when Columbus got lost at sea and landed somewhere he saw some Indians, did he not? I wonder if he saw any non-status Indians at that time. Does anybody know? Those people who landed, Columbus and his gang, created what we know today as so-called . .. Have you ever seen a non-status Chinese or Japanese? No such thing-—a creation by the white man. We do not recognize that concept. We are Indians, period. Whether we are non-status Nishga or status Nishga, on or off the reserve, does not make any difference to us.
We were asked by the governments about our position on it at a negotiating table: If there are any funds to be disbursed, how would you deal with the non-status Nishgas? Our answer is that there is no such thing as a non-status Nishga. It was created by the white man. It was never created by our people. We are all Indians in our eyes across this land.
I guess we have to ask who started the question of non- status. We never did. So we fully respect the people who are known today as non-status Indians, but we do not recognize the concept, because it was created by the white man. It is that simple in our position.
So if and when we settle our case, if there is any disbursement of whatever there might be, the non-status Nishga will
have the same share as the status Nishga, on or off the reserve. That is our position.
So to us, I said there are basically two peoples: white man and Indian. There are many tribes in the white man’s world, too-Germans, Russians, and so on, big tribes, if you want to call them that, nations—but they are all white men, and so are we: we are all Indians. They call some of us Métis and non- status. To us, it is the creation of the white man. We are all Indians—let us face it-—and we have to tell the truth, and to us this is the truth.
So I hope I answer your questions. We do respect the people, but not the idea of this so-called non-status Indian or whatever you might call it, because we never created that.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have been listening very closely to the questions and answers here today. What I think I am hearing is that as we pursue the business of self-government, you are telling us to be very cautious because of the very important issue of land claims; that there are certain areas where perhaps we can recommend that changes be made as far as the delivery of services, the department, your suggestions on ombudsmen, are concerned, but all of those things are really secondary to the settlement of land claims.
Is that your advice to the committee, that we be very cautious in our reporting regarding areas where land claims are not settled, that we recognize this in our report and that certain changes we may recommend may be satisfactory for those areas where land claims are settled, but not in areas where they are not settled?
Mr. R. Robinson: I will ask our legal counsel to respond to that.
Mr. Leggatt: I want to say first of all, through you, Mr. Chairman, that is a very good summary of our position. The contribution we feel this committee can make, the most important contribution it can make in moving toward the self- government question, is to expedite the land settlement process, expedite the native claim process, get that process ended so that then we can get down to dealing meaningfully with these concepts we are passing back and forth. But until we know what is in that treaty, if I can put it that way, it is very hard for us to try, now, to define limits to a jurisdiction which we believe we have, we have always had, at law we have, and we have today. So it is difficult for us to come before you and start saying we will do this or we will do that.
We would urgently hope that you will take the strings off the negotiators and move toward a settlement of the land claims question.
Mr. Schellenberger: I respect that answer. Thank you for that. That gives us a dilemma, and perhaps you might assist me with it. I have a dilemma with that, anyway; it is that many of the witnesses before us and in other parts of the country have asked us to move very quickly in changes to assist self-government. Given that the land claims will hopefully be settled very quickly—or perhaps take a number of years… how do we proceed in moving toward the request from other Indian nations with the request that I am hearing today here?
Mr. Cottingham: I believe we mentioned in the paper perceptual shifts that are necessary on your part, and something you must come to understand is the distinction between treaty and non-treaty areas. We refer to this in the paper, that you very well may wish to proceed in other areas if the Nishga people here are speaking for their own position, and you have to recognize that. We also recognize—and it is something for you to deal with—that historically the Canadian government has refused, by policy, to acknowledge that perhaps more than one act or one piece of legislation was required. The minister today still retains that basic assumption and that policy, and he refutes any suggestion that perhaps there should be others by asking, what do you want, 1,500 acts, 2,000 acts, or whatever. And that is why I believe we clearly stated in the paper that we should be reasonable; let us not go to extremes and say one act, necessarily, or 1,500. We said perhaps we can find some distinctions and some similarities, starting with the similarity that we have a collective people, treaty people, and we have another group with some similarities: they are non- treaty. There is a starting point from which to look at whether maybe two acts in the interim stage may be required, or two or three or four.
So let us not be fooled by the minister’s statements or the traditional policy of the government, when they say that if not one, then perhaps 2,000 or 500. Rather, let us bring some creative thinking to the process.
Mr. R. Robinson: May I add a word or two to that? Let us not close the door on interim, what is it, framework legislation. I think we would be receptive to some sort of framework legislation, just defining our relationship from government to government and from us, the band, to band council and tribal council. I think we would be receptive to that, but as an interim measure, with the long objective to see that land claims are settled. As our president stated in his opening remarks, let us be honest with each other. I think what we would ask you to do is to bring this to your government and bring it to the Minister of Indian Affairs; let us quit beating around the bush. It is costing us money. It is costing you people a lot- of money, trying to resolve these areas where there are no treaties. Let us get down to business and negotiate; negotiate in good faith so that we can put all these mechanisms together. I think this will solve a lot of problems. So we are receptive to an interim measure, like framework legislation.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you. That is helpful.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Schellenberger.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My questions are very brief. Just to follow something that Mr. Schellenberger has opened on the land claims issue, I wonder if I share the views of some of the witnesses when they talk about the shortcomings of the current claims process, in which the Justice lawyers are very involved—there is Judge Drury, and there are others—and you are asking this committee to do something to expedite that process. You are also saying, deal with land claims first, then these other issues will follow.
I wonder if you would agree that the land claims process and policy should be the subject of specific comment from this committee?
Mr. Leggatt: Yes.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
Mr. Cottingham: I think we have to understand, if we talk about land claims and then the rest will follow, that clearly the question of self-government is inseparable from the land. You cannot separate the culture, the land, the laws, the language, the spiritual life and the self-government, which is necessary to enhance and bring that forward into the future. So I just want to make that very clear. Self-government, the land and title are inseparable, by definition.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
My second question is this. On the last page, in almost the last paragraph of your submission, you urge this committee to include in its report recommendations for consultation processes to consider the options that the committee puts forward. You and I both know of the pretty miserable history of consultation in this country in the past. Do you have any suggestions for this committee, if and when we put that kind of thing into the process, what, in terms of the Nishga Tribal Council and the Nishga Nation, is consultation?
Mr. R. Robinson: I will respond to that. You made reference to the last one. I believe our president covered that in his opening remarks. We urge this committee to urge the government to hand down an interim report outlining proposals as outlined in our brief here. So we can then respond, in a meaningful way, and reach an understanding. I think this committee has terms of reference that would give us some assurance that there will be an ongoing process. We have to respond. You give us your recommendations; we will respond to that in a meaningful way.
Mr. Cottingham: The other point is that we believe your report is clearly your recommendations; they are not necessarily the recommendations of the Nishga Tribal Council.
Ms Jamieson: Yes.
Rev. MacKenzie: There is this problem of consultation. I often go around and seek the advice of people. When I do that, there is a kind of unexpressed commitment, if I ask their advice, because I am not only going to listen to them, to some extent I am going to try to take that advice. I think the history
of consultation with native people in the last 15 years in this country is that you go around and get a lot of native groups telling you things, but not very often paying attention or implementing that advice. It gets a bit frustrating.
Ms Jamieson: You would say that each band or each nation, in your view, should be given an opportunity to comment meaningfully?
Mr. R. Robinson: Yes, that is right, because as we have stated, there are many categories, and there are many tribes. British Columbia, for example, is so unique. I think there are about 32 dialects in British Columbia alone. How did that happen? The Almighty is the only one who can answer that, why that is so in British Columbia. That is the reason why we have tribal governments in British Columbia. The government is trying to suppress that by saying they are not going to fund tribal governments. They do not want them to be political. How can we not be political, if we are going to deal as a tribal government? So yes, we would like to see the committee take this into consideration.
Canada is a diverse nation even amongst non-Indians, yourselves. You have the Chinese, and so forth. It is the same with us in British Columbia: we have treaty Indians and we have non-treaty Indians. That is the category in which we belong. There have to be different arrangements. But as we stated in our brief, one ultimate aim is self-government with no strings attached. To put it in plain language, the self-government now being proposed still has many strings attached to it.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
The Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: I have a very brief question, Mr. Chairman.
Regarding the land claim settlement policy at present in place, the minister has denied that this necessarily involves any extinguishing, yet when I read it, certainly it seems to imply that to me. What it does do is to offer certain benefits in exchange for aboriginal title, and that seems to me to be fairly clear. I do not see how it is possible, within the limits of the present land claims policy, to meet the kind of requirements that the Nishga are setting forward. Is that a fair assessment of present policy?
Mr. Leggatt: I am not sure that you are correct . As I look at the position in the Constitution, they have recognized the land as being owned by the people of the Nishga in the Nass Valley. That is in the Constitution. That is the existing law as we see it. If therefore the ongoing process—and maybe I have not followed your question as closely as I should have—-we expect will therefore simply take that act of recognition further. That process is taking just too long, as far as we are concerned. Again, we come back to our fundamental point that we have the cart before the horse here. We cannot define those self-government questions until that is taken to its final act of recognition.
Mr. Manly: Let me put the question in a different way. Do you feel that the present land claims policy as set out in the booklet in all fairness lives up to the promise which is in the Constitution?
Mr. Leggatt: No; no.
Mr. Manly: So you would like to see that policy revised and enlarged?
Mr. Leggatt: Yes.
Mr. Cottingham: Yes. But now that you have brought it up, in all fairness the booklet must be commented upon. It is a devilish and mischievous book of gobbledegook, if you want, based upon upon the thoughts contained in the “1984”—that is, the book was written for the public in the corporate world, and created by a very slick process to create in the public mind a definition of what is fair; then, clearly, anything that falls outside that definition is unfair, unrealistic, not pragmatic, radical, et cetera. It is a very, very insidious document in that respect.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Any further questions?
Mr. Robinson: There is one more comment.
Mr. McKay: I would just like to make an observation, starting with Roberta Jamieson’s question and then your question. A real stumbling block between us, DIA, and the provincial governments, is their policies, their directives and, I guess, that booklet which was just mentioned. Policies, directives, and short periodicals that come out have intent behind them. I think the reason why we would like to see your recommendations before they get into policy or directives is to be sure that the intention is to benefit us and not to benefit that bureaucracy; not to benefit the non-Indian populace. That is why it is very critical, very important, that we get a preview of your recommendations before they become law.
Mr. R. Robinson: As just one last little throw or kick at the can, I guess, regarding that document which Mr. Munro has now put on the market, and no doubt everybody in Canada has now had a chance to look at. Actually it is a continuation of the old colonial policy as to settling a land claim. They have their own traditional way of settlement and that is the extinguishing of title.
We have said this, and it is no secret now to the public, that in our land claims, we will not settle for their old traditional way of settling them. As stated in our paper, we cannot be separated from our land. Our land is our culture, our language. Now I was hoping that no one would bring up that document at all, but you will understand why, “in all fairness” to whom, we asked when we first saw it.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions? No? Then permit me, please, at this point, to say to the Nishga Tribal Council, first of all, that the committee is very highly honoured by the words of welcome extended to us.
I will repeat Mr. Allmand’s words and say that your presentation today was clear and precise—not ambiguous in any way. That is very helpful to us and we want to commend you for the clarity of this excellent document.
In his opening remarks, the president expressed some concerns—one being that the end result of all this would be just more paper talk; that there will be no action, and no results. I want you to know that is a concern of ours too. Those of us who have been in Parliament for a while have seen many good reports and good susggestions come from parliamentarians, and not always the right kind of action from the administration. I will only say on this point that if we can agree among ourselves—that is, the various political parties represented in the committee, the ex-officio member, the two liaison members- if we can agree and then find a measure of agreement with Indian leaders across the country, what we will have then will be certainly a lever which we should be able to employ, we hope, effectively to bring about the right kind of action from whatever administration happens to be resident in Ottawa at the time.
There was also reference made to the gap which exists between the Government of Canada and the Canadian people it represents, and the Indian people of this country. I think since we have started out on this exercise, every member of this committee has become much more aware of that gap than we ever were before. In fact, I am going to stop calling it a gap. It is a chasm. It is vast. I think it is going to take all the optimism we have to try to do some bridge-building over that chasm. But you do have here in this committee a very dedicated group of people, and I think they will certainly make the effort.
The president also made remarks about the way in which money is eaten up by the department, and that the information should be made available to the public. Those of us who serve on the standing committee and deal with the estimates of the department used to hear the phrase “the flowing of funds”. We are becoming very suspicious now about that terminology. We are not so sure it flows at all. We think it might only trickle or dribble. But we want to find out very accurately what happens, and the committee therefore has commissioned a study so that we can get a very accurate picture of what happens to the revenue Parliament votes for Indian people. We want to know precisely how the revenue is used, how much is actually of direct benefit to Indian people where they live.
Finally, I want to say, as did Roberta Jamieson in her opening remarks, that we apologize that we were not able to meet you in your own land. We are indeed grateful that you were willing to accommodate us by coming here, meeting with us here. Our schedule is a gruelling one, and you have been generous and understanding in agreeing to come here and make your presentation to us within these facilities in this particular area. So again, on behalf of all members of the special committee, we are in your debt for the amount of work you have done, and for the contribution that you have made to the task given to us by the Parliament of Canada. Thank you very much.
Mr. Gosnell: Mr. Chairman, before I offer my final words to your committee, may I say that I thought we were going to go a little bit deeper into questions of funding, budgets, and so on. I want to give this meeting, Mr. Chairman, some examples of what the distribution of funds is. We did a study in May 1978. We picked the Province of Quebec, the Atlantic region, the Provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. I will give you the per capita shares of the distribution of funds by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
In Quebec at that time, in 1978, the per capita share was $599.53. In the Atlantic it was $484.07; in Ontario $326.12; in British Columbia $241.37. This is per capita distribution by DIA.
Now, I wanted to make it known to this committee that there is something drastically wrong with this distribution of funds. We further broke it down in British Columbia, and this is the way it broke down. In the Prince Rupert area it was $173.32. In the Hazelton area it was $160.03. In the Terrace area—that is where we belong. . . it was $139.47. So I guess we are the $1.49 Indians, in this case.
These figures, Mr. Chairman, are facts. We have asked the Minister of Indian Affairs to give us the reasoning for this. To this stage he has not replied to this question. I think it is about time the public knows why we are talking this way. It seems to us the closer you are to the capital, the bigger the chunk you have; and the farthest one away, especially in the nothern areas—we do not even get the crumbs of what we are supposed to be getting.
I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and your committee, for giving us an opportunity to express our feelings about what is wrong here. As I said in the opening remarks, there is definitely something wrong within the department because of the distribution of funds. What is happening at this moment, we do not know. This study was done in 1978 by our council.
I wish to thank you and all your committee members and again thank the the Tsimpshian people, the nation who own this land, for allowing us to deliberate on their lands. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Thank you to all the members of the Nishga Tribal Council.
Members of the committee, there will be a very brief recess and then we will hear from the Kitamaat Village Council. We will reconvene in five minutes.
The Chairman: I call the meeting to order. Members of the special committee, our next presentation is from the Kitamaat Village Council. I am now going to call upon Gerald Amos, Chief Councillor, to introduce those who are with him and to
tell us how he wishes to proceed with the presentation. I would also like to ask him if at the end of the presentation he would be ready to answer questions relating to the document that he is going to read.
Mr. Gerald Amos (Chief Councillor, Kitamaat Village Council): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, committee members, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Gerald Amos, elected Chief Councillor from Kitamaat.
As with the former participants who came before your committee, I am not in the enviable position they have been in because the majority of the people who have appeared before you have had numerous years of experience in Indian politics and I have only been elected for two years. But I am fortunate to have with me a delegation to appear before you with. With me for this presentation are Mr. Tom Robinson, our hereditary and deputy chief; councillors Reg Smith, Raymond Green, Morris Amos, Don Stewart, and Mike Robinson; and also our executive director of band development, Gerry Wesley.
Just before I get into my presentation, I would like to formally, I suppose, make a request that I have already made of your chairman. We have with us a counterpart from Kitsumkalum, which is located just outside of Terrace. Their chief councillor is Cliff Bolton. I have requested of your chairman that he sit with us, and at the end of our presentation he would like to present a short brief. We do this out of the friendship we have formed with this band. There is nothing formal in the way of a tribal council that we have between us but merely goodwill and participation have linked our two bands.
Our council serves the Haisla people who number more than 1,000 on our list.
First of all, it is with some concern and reservation that we appear before you at this time. Let me give you some of the reasons for our uncertainty. On October 4, 1982, our council wrote a letter to this committee requesting that you schedule hearings in our village or, failing that, at least in a central location of the Pacific northwest of British Columbia. It was very disheartening that we did not get the courtesy of a reply from this committee. Although we are happy to have you act on our recommendation to come to the northwest, we hope that our first attempts of communication with you are not an indication of the type of interaction our people are to receive during your tour of Canada. When I say people, I refer to the native people.
A second concern we have over the impact of these testimonies you are hearing is that this same process was undertaken by the Department of Indian Affairs in October 1968 and January 1969. At that time, the department held consultation meetings in Terrace for local bands to to provide input on changing the Indian Act. No major or positive changes resulted out of those consultation rounds, which leaves us sceptical that anything will result because of our talks today. We realize that you may see your status as being different
than the Department of Indian Affairs consultation committees of 1968-69, but to us it is exactly the same process.
We are concerned that a report has been presented to the House of Commons in September 1982 which dealt with Indian women and the Indian Act. We have reviewed the recommendations made in that report, and while there are some things which we agree with, there are also some that we do not agree with, and in all likelihood many which the Indian people in Canada will not agree with. This raises the issue that there was lack of consultation between Indian people and this subcommittee. This is evident in the fact that only one Indian band made testimony before the subcommittee. It has to be realized that national or regional native organizations cannot reflect a total consensus for all the native people in Canada.
A major concern we have, should this committee be responsible in carrying out its mandate, is that the idea of making changes to an Indian Act which may be ruled worthless in its entirety is an effort in futility at this time. We say this based on a recent court case between the Government of Canada and the Musqueum Indian Band of southern B.C.
You are aware that on December 10, 1982, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the federal government could not be held legally accountable to Indians and that the trust relationship between the government and Indian bands could not be enforced in a court of law. This ruling reversed a breach of trust action levied against the federal government by the Musqueum Band. As you know, Musqueum is appealing this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. If the ruling is that the government does not have a legal trust to Canada’s first citizens in its obligations under the Indian Act, then we feel the Indian Act is in itself a document which has been adhered to with no legal justification as a federal law.
Our final apprehension is our feeling of being a small, relatively unsophisticated band which wonders if this presentation will have an impact on the changes we require in our community. While we may represent a small percentage of the native people of Canada, we feel that the issues which you are charged with addressing must be voiced by us, as they are important issues; or at least, the potential implications of any changes are. We may not be addressing every specific issue you would desire, but we do feel that we will address our major concerns in a plain and ordinary way, which we trust will not be interpreted in any other manner through the use of forensic dialectics.
We make this final comment based on a Supreme Court of Canada ruling pronounced on January 25 of this year. In that case the Honourable Mr. Justice Dickson stated:
It seems to me, however, that treaties and statutes relating to Indians should be liberally construed and doubtful expressions resolved in favour of the Indian.
The ruling of the Supreme Court, in our judgment, in making that statement, is a milestone in helping the Indian people of Canada.
When we consider the issue of self-government, everything hinges on funding received at the band council level. Therefore, it is important that we review the existing Department of Indian Affairs funding system as we see it. Our council is charged by the people with making decisions for the betterment of the band. In doing so, we apply to the DIA for funding in an attempt to do what is necessary to improve the community. These funding requests may get blocked at any of the following levels: an administrator at the district level of any relevant program; the district manager, in his wisdom, may also overrule an administrator; at the regional office; and in some instances at the national office.
Our feeling is that we should only be accountable to our electorate. However, with dependency on the DIA for the majority of funding, we realize that we must account to government for those moneys in some manner. To simplify the accounting process to the Department of Indian Affairs, we would like to negotiate a block-funding concept, in which we receive money in a lump sum for each program. We are also ready to determine the exact guidelines on our own within the general objective goals of existing DIA policy. For example, the social development program broad objectives of the department state: (I) to assist persons living on reserves in maintaining a basic standard of living; (2) to prevent dependency by developing individual and family strengths; (3) to make available and help clients utilize rehabilitative services which will enable them to assume primary responsibility for their own affairs.
However, further DIA policy restricts us in meeting those positive policy objectives to an extent which in our view is the most positive for our people. Regulations determine how much assistance is available, or what kind of assistance and under what conditions a person is eligible for assistance. We do not feel that we are helping to develop but rather maintaining recipients at a predetermined standard of living. We want to have the ability to use moneys currently utilized in this program to develop our peoples’ resources within themselves in a manner which will permit them to assume primary responsibilities for their own affairs.
The Department of Indian Affairs repeatedly states that it is relinquishing power to the bands. Kitamaat Village Council is accepting more and more programs, but we do not see the staffing situation in the local district office changing at all. Their level of staffing is still at the same level as when they administered all of the programs.
An example is that when we accepted in this past year responsibility for the administration of the post-school program, we did not receive additional funding; nor did their staffing situation change. I am speaking of the staffing at the district level. This additional expense to council has been carried from within our existing budget which we had before
taking that program. Perhaps we should not have accepted administration of the post-school program. However, we undertook that responsibility because we felt we were able to help our people better than outside administrators. We are able to realize problems and difficulties encountered in seemingly simple tasks, such as filling out application forms, or even building up an individual’s nerve to enter an office to seek assistance in financial aid or career guidance.
These are examples of unreasonable and senseless restraints which we face in our attempts to maintain and develop our own affairs.
We agree that federal and provincial governments should be relinquishing programs, services, and administration moneys to Indian bands, as we do know the direction we are headed in and we can achieve our goals. But with administrative policies and acts which effectively restrain us, it is difficult to accept statements that the Department of Indian Affairs is indeed working to give Indian band government the full power to manage our affairs. We must see a transformation in the role of the Department of Indian Affairs from an administrative and control agency which is managing Indians to a supportive and resource-providing agency which we may call upon to assist us in our development.
We do not feel that one general statement or one particular act will serve every individual band in Canada. Far from it. However, we feel our people, the Haisla, can determine our own policies, which will ensure our future as the proud people that we are. In fact, if this special committee had the power to give us the total right of self-government and the resources to implement it today, we would likely be seeking advice from several areas before doing so.
First and foremost would be our own people. Then we might adopt certain policies from within the Indian Act or we might adopt an idea which the Haida people or the Sechelt people may have implemented, or any other band in B.C. or Canada which has such examples for us to take from.
But that is not important at this time. The results will suit our needs. What is important is that we are ready for independent self-government and the powers should be relinquished to us at this time.
We agree in principle with a statement made by Jack Beaver when he was President of the National Indian Socio-Economic Development Committee, and I quote from his paper:
The political commitment to Indian self-government must not in any way be interpreted as relieving the government and Indian Affairs of legal, constitutional, statutory, treaty and customary responsibilities to all bands. Those responsibilities should only be changed by mutual consent, and the changes incorporated into the formal agreements made
between the Minister and the Bands that opt for self-government.
It is our sincere hope that this committee will not recommend to the government one specific means of giving our people the changes we seek. Those ways and means can only come from Indian people themselves, and our adopted constitution or policies may not be appropriate to our neighbours to the north or to the south of us. It will not work to have you develop another set of rules or regulations for us to follow.
Up until recent years Indian people have been bystanders in the overall development of their people and this country. Non- Indian people have successfully capitalized on the natural resources of the entire Indian tribal territory. But times are changing. We are starting to take active part in controlling our own destiny, but there must be more and greater changes.
You, the committee we face today, are in a position to bring about some of the changes we seek. Be wise in your statements to the government in Ottawa. We want changes made that would see us better ourselves, but those changes must be on our terms, not on those of some administrator or Cabinet official who is far removed from our lives.
That is the end of what we have prepared and presented to you, but before I turn this back to the Chair I would like to add a few comments relating to the questions that will be posed to us.
As I stated in my opening remarks, I have limited experience but I am fortunate to have a great deal of experience with me on the part of the rest of council here. I will give you an example. Our Hereditary Chief and Reg Smith have between them in excess of 60 years experience in running the affairs of Kitamaat Village. I will rely heavily on them to answer any of the questions posed to us during the question period.
That is all we have to present to you at this time and we are open to questions from you and your colleagues.
The Chairman: Before we proceed, perhaps we could also hear from the Kitsumkalum Chief at this time and then we could ask questions on both submissions.
Chief Cliff Bolton (Kitsumkalum Band): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the Kitimaat delegation for finding it in their wisdom to have me come up here with them, as well-as this committee and the chairman for allowing us to have me sit in here at the last minute. Right from the beginning, when I first heard of this committee coming in the last few days, it has been pretty hectic for us, right up to the time I got to sit down on this chair.
I come from a small village, and as a result some of our main concerns are those of financial issues. I think some of the things I am going to talk about or present to you are those which the Nishgas mentioned as the potholes in the road. We
are not as far advanced as the Nishgas. Their presentation here was a very good one, very far advanced as to what we can do as a small community. As an elected chief of the Gimsean people, although this area of Prince Rupert is not necessarily our tribal territory, I would like at this time to welcome and thank the Nishgas for their presentation and their delegation.
Part of our concern is to promote our Indianness. We are hoping that in our effort in making presentations to the government to change its system and policies, we also do not want them to be taken as such that we no longer want to be Indians but to assimilate with the rest of the country. I think it is in reverse, that as we have control of our own lives we want to promote our Indianness more and more. I think the delegation that showed up here is an example and much more, as they said.
Our presentation is that Kitsumkalum is a village situated approximately three miles west of the Municipality of Terrace. Our total band membership is at present 125, with 81 members on the reserve. We have three reserves in the immediate area and one on the coast, which many know as Port Essington. Due to a series of fires in the early 1960s our members who were living in Port Essington were forced to relocate back to Kitsumkalum. In order to relocate to Kitsumkalum, homes had to be put up very quickly. Services such as sewerage and water had to be put in place and electrification had to be provided.
To provide for housing shortages in this emergency case, the band bought 12 homes from Alcan; that was their construction camp. We moved those homes to Terrace and Kitsumkalum and renovated all of them. In order to provide for water, we had to build a dam which provides 50,000 gallons of water to the.village. Waterlines and sewerage had to be installed, along with electricity to the whole community.
To many this may not sound like much of an undertaking, but to us it was a major task, especially in view of the fact that the total amount was paid for from our band funds. Not a penny came from the government in assistance for an emergency relocation such as this.
I think one of the reasons I wanted to make a presentation now is because a small band, such as ours, has never really been heard from, but we have definite difficulties and we have definite problems. It is because of this huge expense all at once that our band fund was depleted, and we have since not been unable to build it up to where it used to be. We have some leases at present, but these have not kept up with the inflation costs of our country. These are mainly our own source of survival.
Although our submission leans heavier towards the funding of our local government opportunities, we also agree with other bands and organizations that have emphasized the need for more autonomy for the bands and tribal councils. There have been many presentations made to the Government of Canada regarding Indian self-government. But because of the uncertainty of even being able to make this presentation, and the
short time to prepare what we have here, we are unable to get into the theoretical aspect of self-government.
But from the various reports that we have been able to read we would be inclined to agree with most of their ideas, and our submission will touch on some major operational sections of our band administration and will also include some recommendations and backup material that we were able to compile at this time. Any further supportive material can be made available on request.
If nothing else, I imagine that this gathering here now discussing Indian self-government has taught me one thing. Although I am the administrator and the chief councillor of our band, we have been so snowed under with paper that we really have not been able to have time to sit down and look at where the problem really starts. We have been band-aiding everything in our community.
Regarding the band administration, administrative funding, the government at present funds bands on a per capita basis. This system is an unrealistic system and results in grossly underbudgeted band administration. For example, we have received in total a sum of $26,331 for the core and overhead funding for a very basic staff of three. Regardless of size, the paper flow and business conducted each day are similar to other bands’. Meetings have to be attended, such as this one; minutes have to be typed, as well as letters; books for band funds and program funds have to satisfy the auditors and many other government departments, as well as our band members. So we, too, have to have an office and all its operational expenses, as well as a staff to run it every working day.
Another problem that we have in our band administration— and this seems to be mostly geared towards our dissatisfaction with the way the Department of Indian Affairs operates or does not operate: BCRS and other important documents are held up too long at district and regional offices. Turnaround time is far too long. There is a lack of communication with the Department of Indian Affairs itself and a lack of communication between the Department of Indian Affairs and the band councils or district councils. .
There is inadequate assistance from district offices to band offices, taking into consideration the number employed there.
Of course, we will complain about the lack of funding in housing. Most bands are allowed $18,000 subsidy per house. Last year we were cut to $12,000 for two homes, thus giving us $24,000. Secondly, the DIA has a formula for subsidy grants.
It depends on the village location. For example, the urban locations are allotted $18,000, the rural locations $20,125, remote locations $22,125. At present Kitsumkalum is fitted into the urban category due to our location next to Terrace. The problem is that the formula is a blanket formula for all villages in British Columbia. For example, Kitsumkalum is in the same category as other villages near more centrally located cities like Vancouver and other towns in the lower mainland. Kitamaat here is in the same category and faces the same problem we do.
Thirdly, band council resolution processing again is very slow in this area, and any holdups result in lengthy and unnecessary delays causing construction halts or construction under bad winter conditions.
Economic development: The present allocation of these dollars to Kitsumkalum is, of course, inadequate due to the method of dividing the northwest district budget by the per capita system. Kitsumkalum feels that to be able to reach a satisfactory level of self-sufficiency we have to be able to develop our human and natural resources to the best possible uses.
Under the present allotment system of dividing the dollars by the per capita system, plus that our band membership is small, we are not getting enough dollars to do the proper preliminary research, feasibility studies, planning and consultative fees. Without the above, our projects are doomed to fail before we start, and that has an effect on our self- determination and self-sufficiency.
At the annual district budget allocation meetings, Kitsumkalum has always voiced its objection to this system.
In education, funding to our band regarding education is not enough to start any programs on a small reserve, although there are some needs for various projects and programs on our reserve.
The lack of counselling available, specifically for native students at secondary and high schools, as well as the villages, resulting in our students receiving second-class education, and again affecting the end result of our self-government. Contact with district educational personnel is at a bare minimum. The only time we hear from them is when we call.
School District 88 is paid in full for all native students by October in every school year. They receive $3,205 for each registered native student, which includes transportation for busing. At present we have 17 students attending from our
village and many more off reserve. Our share to the school district presently is $54,485 for the year. The problem is that this is paid out in a lump sum—and I am talking about the MTA—to School District 88 and by October a lot of the students are kicked out of the school and the school district has already received the total amount of funding. We disagree with that system.
Community infrastructure and services: This includes roads, sanitation, water, fire protection, all the community buildings and recreation. Again, funding for these items is inadequate due to the size of our village. Adequate funding for many projects has been very difficult to obtain, to say the least. Lack of funding in the whole district makes it almost impossible to complete projects for these very necessary services. Again, with the assistance from all the bands in our district—and because we are a small band I think these fellows are getting sick and tired of seeing us getting pushed around and screaming and hollering at the government and trying to get them to assist us . . . They joined together and we formed a task force and went after the government. After about four or five months we were able to get that funding—maybe a little longer—and a project now has just started. We have a waterline that has been half finished under the ground for two years now, but we do not have the funding to complete it.
I have here some recommendations. Again, they are our own recommendations and were drawn up very quickly.
One of the first recommendations we have is that all funding for basic administration be for no less than three employees to carry out the basic administration duties of the band and that the rates paid be those similar to government employees carrying out similar duties within the government system.
Secondly, in order to assist in providing the extra dollars, we recommend to the government that the number of people employed at the district and regional levels now be lowered and, as they retire or get fired or quit, that they do not replace them if they do not prove to be a worthwhile position, and that these fundings then start being channelled down to the bands or district councils or tribal councils.
Thirdly, that the communications systems within the government be improved, as well as communications systems to the bands.
Fourthly, that the government abandon the per capita distribution systems throughout all the programs and that a needs allocation be adopted.
Fifthly, that the paper-flow stream through the various offices be streamlined to accommodate the bands and operations.
Usually what happens is that papers get held up within our district or regional offices and in the end the bands or the tribal councils are the ones which look bad. We are trying to build the house in the middle of wintertime and in the springtime it starts sagging.
A.new ‘equitable formula should be devised throughout the province in consultation with bands, tribal councils, etc., in relation to funding for housing.
I think there has to be a new system set up. They have to set up a new funding formula so that it starts from Vancouver, or wherever we start paying our freight from, to Terrace or wherever our locations are.
In economical development, more financial assistance should be made available to bands that at least have made preparations and which are also in locations that offer good potential development, such as our band is in now. Our band was in a rock quarry operation and there is an ongoing battle with that. I think that is the biggest pothole in our road. Not only that, it is a huge hole on the side of a mountain beside our reserve, or on our reserve. That is time for me to stop.
We have potential tourist development in fish guiding, touring and camping, and we have started an arts and crafts business in the last 12 years. That has been ongoing and is still ongoing. I think to us this proves that we can manage our own business, no matter what scale it is on.
In cases where there has been incidents, such as the CNR operation, the government should guarantee extra funding to provide legal and consultative services to the band.
Funds regarding the Master Tuition Agreement in our education system should be directed to the bands or tribal councils for distribution to school districts on a quarterly basis. The government now distributes funding to us to operate our businesses. They should account for that, and it will be paid in accordance with the number of students in attendance and the level of education delivered to our students.
I would like to mention the CNR here. I have a copy of a letter that I wrote to our MP. I did not have time to retype the whole thing, but I think it gives you a history equivalent to the situation that now exists at Musqueam.
In 1964 the CNR had taken out a permit through the Department of Indian Affairs to crush rock on our reserves. They paid our band 3¢ a cubic yard in 1964, and they have continued to pay the band 3¢ a cubic yard for 20 years.
The minimum rate in B.C. at that time was around 30¢ or 40¢, and now it is 55¢ per cubic yard. That is the minimum
rate and I often wonder what is really going to happen to us. We have now spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of $80,000 trying to fight CNR. We have confronted CNR; we have informed the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. They have sent us a dud from Indian Affairs to attend our meetings and it really has not helped us. We are still dishing out money and we have not come to any conclusions.
We have a potential there to earn almost $1 million a year, and when we do we can kiss the DIA goodbye. But right now we cannot.
It is a lengthy letter so I will not read it through at this time. But the problem existed with the railway right from the time they first surveyed to come through our reserves. Right now they are taking up 75% between the highways and the railways, 75% of our usable land, and we are caught in a little corner. They have taken up the whole, complete waterfront of the reserve that is potential tourist development at this time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fulton: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Fulton: Perhaps Mr. Bolton would like to table that letter. It could be placed as evidence with the committee but not attached to the transcript. It could be placed as a . . .
The Chairman: Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Chairman: Are there any further comments?
Chief Tom Robinson (Deputy and Hereditary Chief, Kitamaat Village Council): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to comment on our place of meeting. I criticize the committee for asking us native people to come to you. The problem is that Indians and the committee should have been meeting with us on our own grounds.
To give you an idea of what I mean, if you went to Kitamaat Village or Kitsumkalum, you would not find a High Line Motor Inn to meet in; you would only be meeting in very, very, small, cramped quarters, which is an example of the lifestyle on reserves. It would have probably brought the problems more forcefully to you.
The Chairman: Mr. Oberle.
Mr. Oberle: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. May I first say to the witnesses that throughout your briefs I felt you had the feeling that you had to apologize for the brief and for the lack of technical detail. It is precisely the kind of testimony we have heard here that is crucially important to us. The recommendations we are making cannot just be designed to deal with those bands that have already achieved a substantial and sophisticated degree of self-government. Naturally, our concern must
be as well, or even more so, for you people, bands which by their size and inculcation have still a long way to catch up.
I want to therefore specifically ask some questions and both of you can answer them.
I take it from the Kitsumkalum brief that you would recommend—this has been a thorn in my side because I have some small bands, just like Jim has, in my riding—the distribution of economic development funds on a per capita basis. Quite often there is not enough money there to do the damn paper work to start anything, never mind getting anything done.
The question we have to come to grips with is: how else could you distribute it? What I have suggested to the minister in the past is that we sit down with Indian people and work out a minimum standard of services which is acceptable to the white man’s society as well. Every white man . . . let me tell you, I have asked some officials of the Indian Affairs department how they can sleep at nights, or how they can keep their jobs, having to live with these conditions all the time. I wish to apologize, too, that we did not come to see you. But if we had gone there we probably would not have been able to set up all this paraphernalia. You probably do not even have electricity. There are some bands in my riding that do not have electricity. They cannot even have a television set; never mind water and sewer and all these things.
I take it from your brief that you want us to recommend that we agree upon and then insist that we establish, certain minimum standards, standards that every other Canadian and every other person in this civilized society throughout the wstern world would take for granted, namely sanitary water, sewers—fresh water so that you do not have to worry about your kids getting sick—and electricity. Surely that has to be a minimum standard. And also some minimum standards of roads.
Any of these undertakings, in terms of community service, are impossible for a band with just 100 people, if you distribute the money on a per capita basis. Did I read you correctly? Is that what you are asking us to do?
Mr. G. Amos: If I can make a comment before getting to your question, earlier you made statements that you felt we were apologizing—far from it. In our brief we referred to ourselves as a relatively small and unsophisticated band. We meant that in the context of the overall Canadian picture, as far as Indian people are concerned. We are only 1,000 out of whatever the total figure of Indian people is in Canada. We are not apologizing at all for our unsophisticated ways. We feel we have been practising self-government prior to Indian Affairs really taking a foothold in Kitamaat Village. One of our researchers, in the archives in Ottawa, came across band council minutes dating back to the 1930s, in which a woman was nominated and voted into council and actually sat on council in the early 19305. If that is any indication of our
unsophisticated ways, I do not know what the exact year was when women actually got to vote, much less sit on any council. I just leave that with you as a measure of our unsophisticated ways.
Getting back to your question on the distribution of dollars, I would refer you back to our brief in which we use the social development program as an example. It is our opinion, in fact it is our desire, that we should be given the opportunity to use these dollars that are labelled “social development” and which in fact are not social development, they are anti-social development, in our estimation. It is the only budget we have that is open-ended. I believe you have heard that from many people. I say that I am of limited experience, but our desire is to take these kinds of programs and use them to develop housing programs and for overall development, to be relieved of the restrictions after the broad objectives have been stated.
Perhaps I can, if you would care to restate—Cliff, or some of my council members here, might be able to respond to your question further. Tom.
Chief Tom Robinson: I think you are reading our ideas correctly when you ask if it is our desire to be equal to other Canadians. I think that is the crux of all of the complaints you have heard today and are hearing now. To give you an example of why the complaints come up, if you were to come with me and tour all the Indian reserves in the northwest, never mind the entire… British Columbia or Canada, and compare roads in and leading to reserves with those of other, non-Indian communities, you would be appalled, if you already are not, with the condition of the roads leading to Indian communities. These are the reasons why there are complaints; it is because we see non-Indian communities, even ones smaller than ours, where there are no questions asked. It is just the lifestyle that the non-Indian enjoys. No questions are asked as to where the dollars come from, they are just installed as part of the lifestyle. When it comes to Indian reserves, they are not.
Mr. Oberle: You have not touched on the question that the other delegations here today have highlighted to us, the question of land. Could you tell me what the land base is for the reserves wewhave here tonight, on a per capita basis? How big are your reserves and how many acres per person would we be looking at?
Mr. G. Amos: To that question, I would say to you that in Kitamaat we have at present, I believe, one of the lowest per capita acreages per person living in the community or on our band list. I do not know exactly, I am at a loss as to what the exact acreage is, but it is not much more than an acre and a half per person—if it is over, it might be under that now. That
is an overall reserve base. That is not saying that all that is liveable. In fact, in the reserve on which our community is presently located, I would say that 60% is mountainside and is not liveable. At the beginning, I believe, when reserves were allocated to our people, it would have been about three acres per capita, but due to the growth of the community it has been cut right down.
If I could expand on that, that is one of the primary concerns our council at present is faced with, with the recommendations that have been made on the status of women. It is unfortunate that we did not bring along a list of every woman from our community who lost her status—plus their offspring. I believe they number approximately 120 people all told. If faced with a theoretical situation of their being given an opportunity to return to Kitamaat Village, we might be faced with an even greater demand on our reserve base and the funds we are presently working with.
Chief Bolton: The main reserves Kitsumkalum is situated on comprise about 1,800 acres. Almost half of that has gone to rights of way and leases that have cut through our reserve. We are sitting right on the main line coming out of Terrace to Prince Rupert; the highway runs through it; the railway runs through it; B.C. Timber has 77 acres there; Canadian National Railway has tied up an additional 77 acres; the Department of Transport has approximately eight acres; and B.C. Telephone’s lease has just expired where they had tied up 3 acres. The rest of it is mountain. With the community as small as our band membership is now, we are having problems finding areas in which to build our homes, unless the people who want new homes are prepared to spend a large amount of money building off the sides of cliffs and developing those areas that are costly to develop.
We have another small reserve of approximately 100 acres, which is about four miles away, still heading west a little farther.
Right now, I am the only occupant of that reserve, with another house being constructed on it; so we are starting to move off the main reserve because of the lack of suitable ground. What is not mountain is swamp because approximately where we are was an old river bed. The river still flows underground and comes up at high water at times, so it is unsuitable for building homes.
We have another reserve heading towards the Nass Valley area, in Kitsumkalum Valley. It is about 250 acres and too far out of the way for anybody to live there. We cannot run electricity, get water there, or anything else; so no one lives there.
On the question about our desire to be equal to other people, in our own minds we feel we are equal to everybody else as far as human beings are concerned. As far as funding goes, when we are being given the job to run the band councils or run the community, I know for a fact the workload we have on the
reserve is double or triple that of a person working within the government. I know because I worked for the government. The pay is higher and far more stable when you are working for the government. At one time, I worked for Indian Affairs itself; and for an additional four years, I also worked with Canada Employment and Immigration as a counsellor.
So once the workload gets a little bit heavy there, I know they have the unions to back them up. We have no such thing in place amongst our people, and we have to depend on our own abilities to confront the various funding sources.
Mr. Oberle: Are you telling us that on some of your reserves land has been alienated for rights of way and railways? As I understand it, in B.C.—well, it is everywhere—-you cannot expropriate more than 20% of the land or one-fifth of a reserve. Are you telling me that on some of the reserves you have mentioned, more than one-fifth has been expropriated and alienated for competing uses?
Chief Bolton: On this reserve, the main rail line that came through in the late 1800s——that was the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway—came through without any permission whatsoever from the band, to begin with. They constructed the railway—I have it all on that letter; and if we had more time, I would have read it—but they never compensated the people for the land they took until about 18 years afterwards and 9 years after they had completed the railway.
That is just an example of what kind of treatment we have been getting because of our location. I think the problems we face are so great, as a small, small band beside a central location like Terrace and right on the main spur line and the main highways. Where do we start?
Only recently have we been able to acquire funding wherever we can to start compiling all this information; and hopefully, somewhere down the line, if we ever have our own funding in place, then we are going to start taking action. But we are preparing for that time now.
The highways came through under the War Measures Act, and the band has never been compensated for it. In 1972 or 1973, the government built a new highway and was supposed to compensate the band for the old highway and make payments for the new highway. But we have just found out they had done neither one of those things; and as a result, they have taken a wide—about 200 to 300 feet wide—right of way, slicing right through the band lands. That is about two or three miles long.
Mr. Oberle: Now the coal trains will go right through your reserve, one about every hour. I suppose you are really delighted about that.
Chief Bolton: We are not only delighted about that, but the doggone ballast they are going to put on the railway is coming from our reserve. They are paying us 3¢ a cubic yard for it.
I imagine there will be a train running through about 200 to 300 yards away from our nearest house. There will be a train running through every 45 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days
a week. That is when the coal trains will be running. The wheat elevators are going down here and the logging operations start up again; and every 45 minutes there will be a train going through. They are noisy, and there will be a lot of coal dust.
As well as that, in our impact studies, the highways are carrying dangerous chemicals back and forth through Terrace, through our reserve, with direct fuel coming up from here to Terrace every day and chemicals going to the pulp mills. As we try to prepare ourselves to find out what we can do in case of an accident, we have not been able to get any information from the federal or provincial governments as to what kind of dangerous cargo and chemicals are carried through our reserve. They always tell us there will not be an accident; and we know there are, because we have compiled that information.
Mr. Oberle: I do not want to put any ideas into your head- your own member of Parliament might . . . but has it ever occurred to you to maybe barricade the railway, shut her down and get them to sit down with you and at least talk about it?
Chief Bolton: We are saving a little place on the railway tracks for him. No, we have discussed that. I think there have been numerous ideas, and that is one of them.
Mr. Oberle: I have one final question, Mr. Chairman. What is the land claim situation, not just for the Kitsumkalum Band but for the others? Have you filed any land claims like the Nishgas have?
Mr. G. Amos: Our claim has been filed. It has been accepted, pending a response from the provincial government. That is currently the status of our claim. At this time we are documenting evidence, which we think is rather ironic since the Indian people have to—I suppose you have heard this many times—prove we actually were located in the territory we have claimed. So that is the process we are in at the moment; and as I said, it hinges at the moment, I suppose, on the provincial government.
Mr. Oberle: Would you like some other . . . ?
Mr. G. Amos: I think Reg wants to add a few more comments to that.
Mr. Reg Smith (Councillor, Kitamaat Village Council): Mr. Chairman, we are speaking about land claims. It is not included in our presentation, I believe, as the gentleman stated. We have put a lot of work into it over so many years now, and I have a comment on the concern of people in our area, in the white settlement.
The former chief councillor asked me if I would go with him to a dinner meeting at Alcan with Alcan officials. We talked about jobs; we talked about concerns for our people in the immediate area because of a policy statement made by Alcan when they first moved in that priority would be given to my
people in terms of jobs. Somewhere along in the shuffle that priority seems to have been overlooked. But as I say, we dealt with a lot of things, concerns of our people.
We were just about ready to leave when the manager of Alcan at that time said that he had one more question to ask us before we left: When you settle your land claims, are you going to claim the Municipality of Kitimat? He was serious. And we are talking about land claims here. I looked at our chief councillor; he looked at me and I was darn sure he wanted me to answer. So I turned around to the gentleman and I said: No, we are not only claiming the Municipality of Kitimat, we are claiming all of Canada. It was aserious statement, but it voiced our concern on the land claims issue. I have always said, and I have been in council for about 30 years now, that we as Indian people should not be the ones begging to the government to give us back our lands, it is the foreigners who should be coming to us and asking to negotiate with us the use of those lands.
That is the philosophy I have always taken in land claims; that we are the ones who should be setting down the rules and regulations before we even go to the negotiating table. Those are my personal thoughts on the land claims issue. I am sure every different band, every individual, has their own terms to identify the words “land claims”.
There were some questions raised earlier today which I listened to, and that is the tax base in terms of the lands, our tribal territories that the white man has taken over.
We were invited to a party consisting of the municipal council, Alcan officials and our band council, and the president of Alcan at that time questioned me, personally, whether as original owners of the land we were receiving any tax money that Alcan was paying. I am sure that a lot of you know that we do not. A lot of the resources that have been taken out of our country, we have not received a damn cent for it. I am frustrated in having had to represent my people for many years, and I hope this process that you are in right now will turn around some of that injustice that has been done to my people. It is frustrating.
I will say, with all sincerity, to you people who are burdened with researching Indian people once again, that the Indian people are the most highly researched people in the world. I am curious as to the tax dollars that have gone into that research over, I will say, the past 30 years. I think that proves we are special people, us Indians, because the white people are concerned.
And I say the Indian Act has been a burden towards the progress of the Indian people, and I have supported James Gosnell for many years. He said: Let us get rid of the Indian Act; let us get rid of the Department of Indian Affairs, because they are the ones who are hindering our progress as the first peoples of this country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to first just comment on how sad I am that the opportunity did not
occur today to go to Kitamaat Village. The committee was to go to Kitamaat Village until just a few days ago when the schedule of the committee changed so that it would be here for two days and therefore not have the opportunity to go to Kitamaat Village or to go as well to Kitsumkalum. I cannot speak for the chairman. I am sure he will have some remarks as to why that could not occur, and I share your concern, and the concern of all the groups who are appearing before this committee, that it is not on your own lands and in your own terms and at a site where members of this committee could perhaps get a better grasp of the issues we are talking about.
I would like to comment first on the Haisla brief, because I think any member of this committee who listened with care, or read the words with care, could wring the anguish or the agony from it, and I know all of you well enough to know the sense of moral outrage you have. I attempt in Parliament, where possible, to carry some sense of your moral outrage at the indignities that have been perpetrated on you to other members of Parliament and to the Canadian public.
I do not think very many people in the general public in this country really have an understanding of what this committee is trying to look at and what really needs to-be put before the public to have an understanding of how to come to a resolution of the issue. I think most members of this committee agree, and I think anyone who takes the time to study the issue knows, that in terms of the Haisla people or in terms of Kitsumkalum you own the lands and you own the tribal territories that are there. Great indignities have been vested on you in the case of Kitamaat Village by Eurocan, by Alcan, by Ocelot. All kinds of major projects that have come into the area have not benefited you or your people at all and instead, in most cases, have brought negative consequences to you. Certainly, in the case of Kitsumkalum, to me it is almost like a book of horrors the way the federal government has responded in terms of every single issue, particularly the most recent one in terms of the crushed gravel.
What seems to me to be of the greatest consequence of the briefs that we have heard today, and particularly both of yours, is that there is something moral here that members of this committee have to look at and have to take back to Parliament. It is something that goes on.
I agree with what Reg had to say, that native people in this country have been studied to death. Recently, I was looking at the figures for consultants just for 1982, which were in excess of $9 million, and that was all for things initiated by the DIA who wanted some kind of a study done … a band made a proposal and so, of course, funds were spent to do studies of studies of studies.
I know when the media covers it, or when a lot of people across this country talk about it, or it is talked about on television and so on, what is at issue is that it is money and the money is being squandered, or what do the Indians want now, and what is going on? The thing is it is a self-perpetuating thing and a lot of Canadians, if you stop them on the street and ask them what native people want, or what is at issue, will say that they want more money or they want this or they want that. They have never really taken the time to look inside the
issue. For example, the figures that James Gosnell put forward in terms of just the per capita, province by province and region by region, and even area by area; as we know, certain bands get more for certain kinds of projects than others in the same area.
I know all of you well enough to know that you are as sophisticated as anyone sitting on this committee, perhaps more so, and one thing that happens when people are repressed for long periods of time is that out of the cauldron of that kind of repression comes some kind of vision that is important to a nation, and that is why your culture survived. Indeed, I think Canadians are generally quite fortunate that the innate diplomacy of native people in this country is such that you are not coming in here and simply saying that you are mad as hell and you are not going to take it any more. Instead, you approach it in a reasonable way. But what this committee has to do is take that message and not boil it into a 500-page report, or write a new essay on the Indian Act or 3 easy ways to get rid of the DIA.
It seems to me that what is at issue here is the getting of a resource base that can allow your culture and your laws and your traditions to resurrect themselves and to survive. And what this committee should be recommending is to provide that resource base back to the Haisla, back to the Kitsumkalum people, back to all native people in this country, so that the resource base is there and because self-government will flow from the resource base. The traditions are there. There are 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 years of tradition in terms of self- government.
What we keep talking about in this committee is trying to redefine the wheel; we are trying to offer some new kind of document, something that is fresher than the Indian Act; perhaps something a little more sophisticated than the DIA or core funding—those kinds of things. But it seems to me that the message coming from your briefs and what you are talking about is that it is a resource base and the other things would flow from that.
Now I would like to hear your comments on that, because my frustration in terms of division of powers is that the federal government and the provincial government still have not made the moral decision nor come up with the moral integrity to give the resource base back which you really own, and it would be for us to negotiate with you, as Reg said, from the other side of the table. I am sorry to have taken so long on that.
Mr. G. Amos: I would like to thank you for your comments. You have put it in a way that we can understand it. That is really one of the concerns we had in appearing before this committee and in fact in witnessing what has transpired in the country so far in terms of the Musqueam trust case; in terms of fish poaching as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans called it; and the tax case in which Dean Nagukjewik—that is
difficult to say; I always have a problem with that myself. It is unfortunate that such a case had to have a name which is so hard to pronounce, but I guess it draws attention to it, nonetheless. But everything at the moment seems to be pointing the finger at the Indian people, as you have put it, getting more and more rights and more and more money, or so it seems to the general public. That is a fear we have.
We have witnessed in our area in our local newspapers a number of letters which have been written to editors complaining of this whole issue of aboriginal title and all the rights that stem from it. The general public is afraid of the whole issue. And as to the moral side of it, I would like to turn the mike over to one of our councillors who has always been concerned about this. If the Chair will permit me, I will ask Morris Amos to carry on from here.
Mr. Morris Amos (Councillor, Kitamaat Village Council): Fine. When I come before such a prestigious committee as we have here today, it makes me sort of nervous because I am new to this game of politics. However, I do not like to think of myself as a politician but, rather, as a policy-maker for my people. And when the issue of morality is brought before us, I feel from deep within myself that I have to put in my two-bits worth because, from the Indian perspective, we are dealing from a position of weakness. We have nothing to fall back on in dealing with governments, political systems, legal systems and corporate systems. We have no other alternative but simply to plead our case to the conscious minds of politicians and to ask that you look deep within yourselves and ask yourselves what is the real issue when it comes to Indian people. For me, the issue is simply to follow your own terms of reference.
For instance, the Nishga Tribal Council brought up the issue of morality. To me, justice is adhering to the principles of moral discipline or law. In defining morality, the word “moral” itself is simply the distinction between right and wrong, and that is all we are appealing to—your sense of right and wrong.
To take it further, in our own area of Kitamaat, the highest tribal territory, we dealt with the government and with the corporate entity which you know as the Aluminum Company of Canada. When they came into our area what we had put before us was the spirit which your capitalist country is founded on. I mean the spirit of greed—that is, greed being putting money before people. And that is how we have been dealt with—a people considered to be lower than money. We have been overcome by the creed of greed.
When Alcan came into our territory, the first thing they said was, if you people do not make a deal for your land with the corporation of Alcan, then we will simply expropriate your land. In that way, they instilled fear into us, and our people who were naive in a business sense succumbed to that sort of political pressure.
So on page 8, the last page in our statement, we say, “Be wise in your statements to the government in Ottawa.” All we are asking is that when you go before Parliament, you make them recognize that they are actually following capitalist doctrines of greed and for them to try to see in their own minds that this doctrine of greed is not right when dealing with the lives of human beings. Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wish to thank the representatives from Kitamaat Village for appearing before us today, and to make a very short comment, as well as to pose a question to you.
First of all, in your brief you talk about the possibility of consulting with other people about what sort of things you would want in an Indian government if you had the right to be completely self-sufficient. Now simply on the basis of my knowledge of the Kitamaat people, that conforms with your traditional pattern. Certainly, when you were a much more isolated village than you are now, you always had access to the outside world and you tried to take what was best and incorporate it amongst your own people. I think that process is really what Indian people all over Canada would very much like to be able to do—that is, to pick and choose for themselves.
Morris Amos talked about a sense of what is right and wrong. That brings me to the question which I would like to pose for you. If you cannot answer it now, perhaps you could send us a letter on it, because a great many members of the House of Commons, as well as the members who were on the first subcommittee, felt that a great wrong had been done to Indian women who had been deprived of their status under Section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act. We are anxious that in trying to remedy that wrong we do not perpetuate another wrong. Also, we know that we are on rather difficult ground here. You pointed to the fact that you have a very small land base for your population. I think many Indian communities across Canada are very concerned that if there is a program of reinstatement, that could result in a further impoverishment.
One of the mandates of our committee is that we are supposed to be looking at what kind of resources would be needed for a program of reinstatement that would do justice not only to the Indian women who had lost their status but to Indian bands themselves. I wonder whether you could perhaps make some initial comments on that and then, if you could, follow it up with perhaps a more detailed proposition to the committee.
Mr. T. Robinson: I am trying to tell Gerald how to reply to that.
Jim, you asked us what kind of resource. We have voiced our concern that we were never included in the tax dollars that the Municipality of Kitamaat got for the use of our land. Tremendous amounts of dollars are paid yearly to the Municipality of Kitamaat, and this is the resource base we are looking
for—part of it—to develop ourselves as a group of people: to be included in the tax dollars that other people receive and we do not. That is part of it.
Mr. Manly: Resource revenue payments.
Mr. T. Robinson: Right. If I can expand on that a little bit, Jim, I will take you back to a question that was posed to us earlier on in terms of the reserve land that we have for the community. I failed to mention that we have reserves numbering 16, none of which border on each other. They are 16 separate reserves scattered throughout the tribal territory. The reserve we live on, as I mentioned, has a huge chunk of it taken up by mountainside. Another portion is taken up by the the easement that Alcan holds through the community, so really one of the major obstacles we have in looking at this whole question of women regaining their status is just simply one of land. It is as simple as that. We are cramped as it is, with the 600 people who are living on the reserve we live on. The community is cramped and we are fast running out of space. To develop another reserve we hold, and which might be suitable, would run us into millions and millions of dollars to provide the infrastructure necessary for the community that would be built. That is one of the biggest obstacles we face. As you stated, perhaps we will put this to you in the form of a letter some time in the near future and expand on this question you have asked us.
The Chairman: Roberta.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In listening to the two briefs that have been presented to us—and incidentally OI think it was very fortunate that the group from the Kitamaat Village Council saw fit to share their time with the Kitsumkalum Chief—it seems to me that both these briefs are as eloquent as any in making the case for recognition of Indian self-government and for the delivery, in fact the demand, for the financial and economic base to do so. In fact, the Kitamaat Tribal Council itself in its brief says that what is important is that they are ready for independent self-government and the power should be relinquished to them now. What they also say is that they do not want another set of rules and regulations to be outlined for them and, I take if for, this committee to go about developing another set of rules and regulations, but to be able to operate as they see fit. It seems to me the only people not ready for Indian self-government, in the terms these briefs talk about it, is the current administration that manages their lives.
The situation they describe, particularly the Kitsumkalum Band, is atrocious to say the least, and intolerable. It seems to me that this committee, when we develop our recommendations, has to be able to develop recommendations that are going to meet some of the problems in general which they are describing. For instance, in the area of trust in particular, some of the things that have gone on here are another one or
two shamefull examples of our trustee in carrying out his responsibilities.
The other thing I would like to suggest to those colleagues of mine on this committee who are also on the standing committee is that they look into some of the specifics, particularly of the Kitsimkalum brief; that is, what happened with the CNR, the quarry, the relocation, and with respect to presentation by the Kitimaat Council, what happened in this Alcan deal and who it was who told the band that they ought to make a deal or their land would be expropriated.
We have the benefit, incidentally, of having Mr. Tousignant on this committee, the Parliamentary Secretary for Indian Affairs, and perhaps he would take up some of these issues because I think they demand some attention.
Now to get to a couple of the questions I wanted to ask. One is on the brief from the Kitamaat Council; you quote the Beaver Report in your document, on page 7 at the bottom, and this quote seems to” imply to me that either you have the federal government maintaining all these responsibilities, legal, constitutional, etc., or you can have self-government. What this quote says is:
Those responsibilities should only be changed by mutual consent and the changes incorporated into the formal agreements made between the Minister and the Bands that opt for self-government.
So the bands who opt for self-government can change these responsibilities when they deal with the minister. Before asking my question, I will tell you what other witnesses are telling us: that the federal government has these responsibilities and will always have those responsibilities to First Nations’ governments, but the form of exercising Canada’s responsibility toward the Indian nations in this country should be on a government-to-government basis as opposed to the way it has been done in the past. I would like you to comment on that. First of all, tell me if I have misunderstood the way you meant to use the quote. Secondly, would you comment on my last statement?
Mr. G. Amos: We chose this quote to illustrate that we feel the trust responsibility is there, and we thought with mutual consent. But we do not think this is going to change, take away all the responsibility from the federal government for Indian people. I do not know if that is clear enough for you.
Ms Jamieson: You have been suggesting it is something that is going to be there for all time, or will it be phased out at some stage? One or two witnesses have come before us and said that, as soon as they become self-sufficient, they do not need that any more. Others have said, no, we always want that
special relationship, but we want it to be more on our terms, than has been exercised in the past.
Chief Tom Robinson: To try to answer your questioning; my interpretation of it. We completely agree with the Nishga comments, in that government through DIA has made the decisions and only used council to carry out those decisions, without having consulted with those councillors to draw up the government documents. That is all we were asking, that we be given the opportunity to choose and pick, according to our needs and our desires, without having to go by somebody else’s interpretation of our documents. We decide and we interpret, that is all we are asking.
Mr. Morris Amos: We Indians like to deal in common sense. Let me try to put that statement of Jack Beaver into simplistic terms for you people and lay your fears at rest. Just for example, say we suddenly came across a massive amount of money —$5 billion or something like that. It would stand to reason, would it not, that we would naturally be able to use that money to guide us on our road to self-determination. What that passage actually says is that if we were able to do that and suddenly fell on our face, we are not saying that the federal government should never look at us again as a people. To me it is simple. If you cannot see that, then we are all at a loss here.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. I think that is helpful clarification for the record. Incidentally, in your comments that you made before on the moral issue, I am hoping, very sincerely, that any recommendations that this committee makes, ought to be presented to the Canadian public at large on that basis. I believe members of the Canadian public would agree with that and would choose to do what is right, even though the federal government has not done so until this point.
My other question is for the chief from Kitsumkalum. You have made some pretty specific recommendations. I wonder if you would let me know how you feel about one of the proposals that has recurred in the testimony that has come before this committee, and that is this: That each band or each Indian government should outline what they feel are their priorities; what they feel are their needs; what they feel are their desires, and then negotiate with some central body for block funding, multi-year—beyond the end of one year—and then do with that as they see fit. Never mind any more regulations on levels of how much you get for housing and how much you get for this or that, but that you would make those determinations and would negotiate with some central body.
Chief Bolton: I suppose if a system such as that were put in place, it would definitely serve all bands much better than the system that they have in place now, and whether that is the type of system that would go on forever, I really cannot say at this time. What our eventual hopes are in self-government . . . Because of our locations and our potential development in that area, hopefully one day we will start weaning ourselves from
the government fundings. This will make us more answerable to our own people, rather than to the government that provides those fundings.
As long as we keep getting fundings from the government, they will have more controls on us. Unfortunately, at this time, as far as we are concerned, because we blew our money to move and help our people, we are more or less penalized. We were not, I guess, rewarded for our own effort in self-determination; the fact that we built our own homes and put in our own roads, hydro and sewage and everything else. Until the time that we are self-sufficient, financially—again, that system would be better than what we have now.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you. This issue has been discussed in many of the briefs, this issue of being dependent on government all the time for money to run an Indian government. How can you do that and still be asking for money? There are a couple of answers that have been suggested. One is to entrench Indian government in the Constitution, or the right to self-government in the Constitution for Indian people. Include with that an obligation, within the Constitution, to support, ?scally, Indian governments. So then it would be a constitutional guarantee and you would no longer be at the mercy of whoever is the head bureaucrat in Ottawa at the moment. How would you feel about that?
Chief Bolton: The way it is now, they more or less throw the money in the central ring and then the various bands have to make their presentations. Sometimes things get very stressed in those meetings. It is not the fault of the bands; it is the way the system is set up. Whether we are from a big band or a small band, we have all made our concerns known to the Department of Indian Affairs, but that system has not changed. If it were in the Constitution, if the bulk funding were made available to us, if it were up to our own judgment as to how best serve our people, then it would make things a whole lot easier for us to manage our own governments on the reserves.
Mr. G. Amos: Maybe I can expand a bit on what Cliff has pointed out. I will give you an example of the stress that he has pointed out to you among the different bands in our district. A figure that a former district manager in the Terrace district came up”with, a dollar figure, which would bring the district as a whole, in terms of infrastructure, water sewer and the like—I believe he mentioned a $15 million figure, to bring the district up to par. The figure that we received to disburse among eight bands was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 miIlion—a little over $2 million for one year.
We are faced with a situation where we have various communities which do not have adequate water and sewer
facilities. To bring them up to par would drain, if we went strictly on a need basis, which . . . We, as a council, sympathize greatly with the other bands. Cliff, in particular, has had these problems. But to do so, to go on a needs basis . . . Our band has similar needs and to allocate on the basis of need, with the money that is available. . . By the time it came around to us having an actual need, we would be further behind in the long run, going strictly on a basis of need. That is one of the stresses that Cliff and I, as chief councillors in our different communities, face. It is a wonder that Cliff and I are still on the best of terms.
Chief Tom Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I would like to add to that dollar thing and plans for dollars from DIA.
I have been with council for—I have lost count after 20 years. During all that time, DIA, through its wisdom, has approached us for 5-, 6-, 10-year plans, putting dollar figures on those plans, what we were supposed to get for the 5-year plan, as an example. We spend hours in meeting after meeting planning the five-year plan. After a year or two, DIA comes back to us and tells us that the five-year plan is out, that they have no dollars for it. It is the frustration and the instability of DIA planning that we suffer through. How can we say block funding? How can we say anything when we go through all the plan: and then they come back and tell us we cannot do it that way.
Ms Jamieson: Just one final comment, Mr. Chairman. One would ask, listening to this hearing today, where all the money is going, but I think you have answered that question very well in your brief where you say there is no problem getting programs like your post-school program but no money comes with it and there is no staff decrease in the Department of Indian Affairs. They stay the same so their jobs are secure and tidy, and bands like Kitsumkalum have three people operating off of $26,000. It is all very frustrating.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Any further questions? Clem Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chief Amos, I just wanted to follow on a line of questioning that was brought up by Mr. Jim Manly with respect to the first report on Indian women and the Indian Act.
I do not know if you heard, but I am representing the Native Council of Canada on this subcommittee or special committee, and my particular mandate is to pursue the rights or non-
rights of non-status Indians. I do not know if I am correct or not, but I would sense from the response you gave to Mr. Manly that you are not totally opposed to the concept of reinstatement, but, if in fact there is going to be reinstatement, that resources have to be made available to make that not only a political reality but also a human reality, that you cannot really bring more people into conditions of poverty because it will just increase that level of poverty, but, as a people and based on humanitarianism and justice, that if that injustice is to be done away with there would have to be adequate resources for everyone to be able to survive as a people.
Am I sort of correct in that, or am I totally off?
Mr. G. Amos: That is basically, in a nutshell, I suppose, what we were saying. We feel that we as a band council—and I just reiterate what I said previously—are strapped as it is in providing services for the community and the people who are presently in it. In the words that you used yourself, in our minds, if the resources were not made available with the reinstatement it would be merely heaping one injustice on another in light of the fact that for the people who might come back to live on the reserve that we presently occupy the accommodations and the infrastructure would not be there for them to enjoy.
Mr. Chartier: I understand as well that you are still pursuing the possibility of—I do not know if you can call it a land claim settlement. I am not sure how you look at it. I think, listening to other people, especially the Nishga, they are stating that they still have valid title or ownership of the lands, that they are not looking at extinguishment. So I am not sure what the proper wording would be, but you are looking, I believe, towards recognition of your rights to land and resources.
If that is the case, do you see that in pursuing that aspect of it you may have an opportunity to address the issue of all of your Indian members, even the non-status Indians? Would that process give you an opportunity to get the adequate resources that you need to bring your people together again as a total nation?
Mr. G. Amos: That definitely is our line of thinking. That would provide the people who we currently provide for and the people who might wish to come back with a greater resource base to draw from for our council to provide for these people, but that still does not take care of the present situation that we are in. Before the settlement is implemented, whenever that might be, it still does not address the wrong that has been heaped o? the native women, and to use the land claim settlement as a basis of pushing that problem aside or alleviating a problem in our mind will not right the wrong.
Mr. Chartier: I am glad you say that. I was just saying that that may be an opportunity if nothing came about with respect to the work that Parliament is doing now. I take it from that
statement that you are not closing your mind to that possibility of getting people back into your community. Thank you.
Mr. G. Amos: No.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Further questions?
Thank you, then, Chief Amos and Chief Bolton and members of the council, for presenting your brief. You can see by the number of questions that you have presented a number of very interesting proposals to us today, and I thank you for that.
Did you have a further comment?
Mr. G. Amos: Tom Robinson has a final comment, and then I also would like to make a closing statement.
The Vice-Chairman: Very good.
Mr. Tom Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My personal thinking is that this committee is trying to put the cart before the horse. I personally feel that the answers to all the problems hinge on the settlement of land claims, and I would urge this committee to make it a priority to urge the government on your return and drawing up of your conclusions that land claims settlements for the Indian population of Canada be a priority because the Indians have been demanding this for 200 years and nobody has listened.
I would sincerely urge you to make that a priority.
Mr. G. Amos: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One of the issues that I believe has been brought to your attention in previous presentations is the fact that Indian people would request and maybe even demand of you that we have the right to review any recommendations that are going to be made by this committee before they are put before the House, and I would like to quote at this time in closing, to emphasize our desire in this respect, from a speech that was presented in 1971. I will quote from the speech before I tell you who the speaker was:
Canadian Indian policies were conceived in good will, imposed with beneficence and often failed because they were not of and by the people they purported to help.
That is one of the reasons we would request of you the right to have a review of your recommendations and to illustrate, I suppose, why we have come with some concern and reservations to you today. Here is another quote from the same speaker, and I quote again: “We cannot, the Prime Minister told Alberta people last June, deal in good faith unless the Indians are prepared to believe us”. The speaker went on further, and I quote again:
But I know that we will have to earn the confidence of the Indian people and, to do this, actions will speak louder than words.
I put it to you that this is the reason for our reservations. Actions have definitely spoken louder than words to Indian people, up to the present time.
These were the words of the honourable or the then- honourable, I suppose,—and I do not know how honourable he is today—Jean Chretien, the former Minister of Indian Affairs, in the speech he presented at Queen’s University. In quoting from him, I would ask you to, as Morris put it, look inside you and really do justice to your positions. The recommendations that you will make could have a positive impact on us, as Indian people, and our band council’s ability to deal with the Indian people that we represent.
In closing, I would thank you all for hearing us out and for allowing us to appear before you at this time. Thank you very much. I think Cliff Bolton from Kitsumkalum would like to make a statement.
Chief Bolton: Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank everyone concerned here for allowing me to be at this table here, making a presentation. It was, as I said in the beginning, a very uncertain thing whether I would have that opportunity or not. There are a number of issues that we have discussed and there are many more other issues that we have not discussed, but which should not be forgotten. I imagine that they have been discussed in other areas, but I am thinking in particular of some of our aboriginal customs and rights, those things we are more familiar with, such as our hunting and fishing rights.
It should be stressed to the government that these rights we have, that were our customs to begin with, should be protected vigorously because of the things that are going on in our province. There are rumours going around that these various things are to be taken away from us. They are being eroded, bit by bit, and we are losing control of them. We want complete control of these various rights, and of the fish management and trapping, the water and our lands, the water that our villages sit on. To begin with, our villages sit at the mouths of rivers, because that is where we earned our livelihood. In the early days, when they surveyed our reserves, we were told: ‘We will give you this piece of land, that we will call a reserve; we will put it at the mouth of the river, but you have absolute and complete control and ownership of this river.’ Well, we lost it, we cannot control it and we have not got very many rights left to manage the fish that go in our river any more.
We formed a salmonid enhancement society in Terrace, which we, from our band, had initiated. But, through a series of processes in our government, we have now almost lost control of that particular program. I think the government
should take steps now to see that when a band has initiated these things they be given the control.
Again, I would like to thank you for hearing me out and I would like to thank the Kitamaat band council for suggesting that I come up here with them.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
We will now have a short break while the next witness comes forward, that is the Kermode Friendship Society.
The Vice-Chairman: I call the members of the committee to the table, please. All right, if the witnesses are ready, we have before us now Miss Viola Thomas and Ms Janice Robinson from the Kermode Friendship Society.
Could I have your name, please?
Ms Janice Robinson (Member, Board of Directors, Kermode Friendship Society): My name is Janice Robinson. I am a member of the board of directors of the Kermode
Friendship Society. This is Viola Thomas, our executive director.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Proceed.
Ms Robinson: Members of the subcommittee, ladies and gentlemen: On behalf of the Kermode Friendship Society, I am very happy to come and share some thoughts about Indian self-government.
First of all, I would like to point out that the Kermode Friendship Society, in pursuing the rights of urban Indian people, works with them very closely, whether they be status or non-status. We hope that individual members of this subcommittee will continue to dialogue with native people and support the positions that are very important to us. However, I would like to point out a classic example of how the federal government views our native leaders presently participating on this subcommittee by designating them as ex-officio and liaison members. There are many other examples, where native people have no control or no real input, which I hope this subcommittee will address.
As we see the Liberal government pronounce on the various ways it is going to relate to the Indian people, we see that a new order of things is coming. Each of our generations of Indian people has faced this. When we talk about the generations of Indian leadership, the things that were faced in the past, you may wonder how they were able to survive the overwhelming odds against them in the early 1900s, 1950s and now, the 1980s. Indian rights organizations and the Indian leadership are the key.
I feel this same type of tension is facing us in these times, and I think it is very important we support the tribal governments and native leadership and reocgnize the important role they play in the future of Indian people in Canada. These are the challenges which are facing governments and our people today with the deliberations of this special committee.
First of all, with regards to our submission, we had insufficient time to consult with our people, to familiarize them with the background material on the issue of self-government or to obtain instructions on developing a proper presentation to your special committee. Second, we had no financial resources to carry out proper research.
To speak to these in turn, I will say first that the vital matter of Indian self-government.deserves very thorough treatment, so financial resources should have been readily available for research purposes. Second, we feel the government is seeking to confuse and divide the Indian people by having the special committee divert attention from the minister at a time when the constitutional conference is only a month away.
Obviously, many of the subjects raised by your mandate are questions which are more properly dealt with in a constitutional forum. It is our belief the minister is using tactics calculated to undermine the strength and unity of the Indian people as they approach the constitutional conference in March. The narrow and limited version of Indian self- government the minister puts forward seems deliberately slanted to focus discussion on the minor and administrative aspects of self-government, when it could range to far broader and larger concepts. It is as if he were trying to gain the public’s approval for his scheme or to divert Indian attention away from the more fundamental issues facing them, such as their basic rights, the effect of the amending formula and the sovereignty of their government.
For one thing, prior to the patriation of the constitution, provincial governments had no jurisdiction over Indian reserves or Indian matters, because the federal government had those responsibilities. Suddenly, that was changed after patriation. Suddenly, we are at the mercy of the premiers, who would spell out aboriginal rights.
Because the Indian people have competing interests with the provincial government, they want a more substantial role in the management of local government; control over education, social and economic benefits; provision for the settlement of land claims; provision for the settlement legislation which will guarantee concrete rights and benefits. So the first order of business ought to be a program where the Department of Indian Affairs relinquishes its power to a democratically elected local government council, the preparation of a draft constitution by a constitution-drafting committee, the consideration of the draft constituted by a constituent assembly
composed of elected representatives and a number of people representing special interests.
In summary, what we request is an extension of time so we can prepare our people and ourselves to conduct this vital discussion, adequate financial assistance for that process to take place in view of our severely limited resources, and that these hearings and the committee’s deliberations and report are agreed not to constitute the consultation required with the Indian people before any amendments come into effect.
I thank you very much. Ms Thomas and I will address the questions.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you.
Our first questioner will be Mr. Oberle.
Mr. Oberle: Mr. Chairman, I just have one question.
We will accept all your criticism. I suppose you should understand it would have been impossible. The members of this committee have taken a very courageous step in setting some important precedents, in inviting native representatives to sit on the committee. Now, what we could not do is call them members of Parliament. We had to call them something else, so we asked them what they would like to be called and we made some suggestions. If you have another name we could call them, we would probably consider that.
But it should be on the record and should have been mentioned earlier as well, as the other witnesses said all day, that they think it would be very important and they look at it as their right to be able to view and examine the recommendations that will come from the committee. That was very important to us when we first demanded from the government. It was not the Minister of Indian Affairs who wrote our mandate; we did this ourselves, and we demanded from the government that this exercise will be started and undertaken.
We thought about that ourselves; and in fact, we said: Look, it just does not make sense for us to study Indians any more, to make another trip to the zoo, so to speak—they have been studied to death, someone said a little earlier—unless the Indian people are involved in the process themselves. So this is the first time in Canadian history that a committee of Parliament travels with people that have full status, equal to that of the members in all aspects.
But, of course, Roberta reminds me, if you get to a question of dispute or controversy, she would not be able to vote. But other than that, she participates fully. She and the other members will help write the report. So not only is there accountability; they will actually be participating in writing the report. So checking back will not be as important as it would be otherwise.
I just have one question, Mr. Chairman, if I may pose it. You state in the brief, since the constitution has been patriatcd and voted on, suddenly you have to deal with the provincial governments. I would like you to give us examples of that, because the relationship between Indian people and the federal government has not changed as a result of the patriation of the constitution. It is very doubtful to me that it would change after the constitutional conference.
What made you write that into the report? What evidence have you to support that?
Ms Viola Thomas (Executive Director, Kermode Friendship Centre): The fact that the Liberal government in power has invited the premiers to discuss this whole issue is blatant enough as an example, in our opinion.
Mr. Oberle: Oh, I see; you mean in that context. Okay, I agree with you. But you have not experienced any difference in the way you have dealt with the provincial governments, local agencies or the federal agencies since the constitution. Your comments relate entirely to the fact that the provincial premiers are participating in the conference, which you think is really the business between Indian people and the federal government.
Ms Thomas: That is correct.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Oberle. Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased you could appear, first of all; and I agree with you that the adminstrative arrangements under which the committee is operating has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a lot of groups to put forward the kinds of articulation or—as you pointed out very well in the bricf—thc kind of research required to articulate the kinds of changes you would like to see.
One of the lines of questioning I have pursued today- although I have tended to run on, talking more than asking questions—is in relation to the concept of self-government and whether or not it would be more advisable for this committee to be pursuing the sort of moral prerogative with Parliament which is to encourage the provision of a resource base to native people. The reason I am describing it in those terms is that many of the witnesses who will be appearing before the committee or have already appeared are in areas where there are, in fact, treaties; or in the cases of many “non-status” people, there have been the kinds of historic government programs described as migrating native peoples’ programs and so on, which is an interesting kind of term for the government to even attach to it.
But it seems quite clear that every witness who has appeared has said, really, the cart is before the horse in this case. We are talking about self-government, and self-government is a right that flows essentially from title or from a resource base.
In terms of the Kermode Friendship Centre, I wonder if you could comment first on how you operate, on how you would see that kind of operation functioning better in the long term in terms of self-government and how a resource base could be attached to it.
Ms Thomas: At the moment the Kermode Friendship Society is located out of the community of Terrace, and within that community, the estimate provided by Census Canada is that there are approximately three thousand native people living there who are both status and non-status. The Kermode Friendship Society is not totally dependent upon government funding. We acquire a fair amount of our funds through fund raising projects within the community and that, in itself, is a form of self-government. We feel that the concept of self- government should not be limited to band councils; that it has a broader meaning. The present government policy has always been to divide the native people. I think what we are saying is that, with the existing federal government structure, there is allowance for opposition. You have your PCs; you have your NDP; you have your Liberals; so on and so forth. There is no reason why that kind of structure cannot be encouraged within the native movement, where there would be representation from the non-status, from the Metis, from the treaty Indians, so on and so forth. I think that is the distinction we would probably define as self-government.
Mr. Fulton: I would like to go back to the point Mr. Oberle raised with you, because it certainly caught my eye when you were going through your brief. I mean the point regarding the jurisdictional change that you see coming in relation to native matters as a result of the patriation of the Constitution.
I agree with you that there have been concerns raised within the native community as to why, in regard to the meeting which is going to take place a month from today, there seems to be more focus on the fact that the premiers are going to be there, rather than the fact that what is really at issue there is to discuss additions to the Constitution.
One of the problems that has existed, I think, and particularly acutely in both British Columbia and Alberta, is the desire by the existing governments to put the aboriginal issue back under the rug where it can be safely kept for another 115 years. At least, I assume that was their initiative in asking to have it dropped from the Constitution almost some two years ago now.
What is going to occur there is power-broking. The kinds of funding that are required for . . . well, whether you describe it as the migrating native peoples, as the government cutely called it a few years ago, or the urbanization of large numbers of people who simply cannot find employment or, in some cases as our previous witnesses pointed out, even a place to live in their home communities, requires I think a very close look by this committee and perhaps some consideration for the release of research funds to bring it into greater perspective. A
large number of native people in this country now live in urban areas such as Terrace or Regina or Montreal and elsewhere. I think the committee would be remiss in not putting some focus on it.
My bottom line, and I would like to hear your views on it, is that the priority of the committee really can almost be boiled down to a phrase, and going back to Parliament to say, Look, a resource base is what is at issue here. There is no use refining new kinds of administrative mechanisms for dealing with native people. Repression has gone on long enough; now is the time to turn the focus around.
It is still not clear in my mind how you would propose—but I would like to hear some of your ideas—to provide a resource base for the large numbers of native people who have urbanized. I am speaking of more than those in just the B.C. context, but those people who would not move back to very limited land bases until such time as the resource base is expanded there.
Ms Thomas: To elaborate on that, on page 2 in the third paragraph of our brief, you will see that more or less what we are suggesting is:
. . . constitution drafting committee, and the consideration of the draft constituted by a constituent assembly composed of elected representatives and a number of people representing special interests.
That means all native people, whether they be Metis, non- status, so on and so forth. The long-term benefit is that you are no longer having a whole number of different bureaucracies dealing with native people as such. For example, you have Secretary of State which is primarily responsible for the migrating native people’s program; you have the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development which is primarily responsible for status native people. There is a whole variety of different bureaucracies prevalent within Canadian society to deal with all the various groupings of native people, But if you consolidated those bureaucracies into one, the long- term benefits are going to be much more beneficial than from the creation of division amongst the native movement.
Mr. Fulton: Actually today, we have looked at two different proposals—onc being a statutory fund transfer; something very similar to Section 43 in the Constitution right now of the mandatory requirement of equalization payments to be paid out by the federal government, so that the levels of taxation are roughly the same for social services in all provinces. Now I take it that is something you would be interested in having the committee look at more closely—that is, that kind of either constitutional or statutory relationship where the funding is directly related to a per capita basis nationally, rather than having to go through . . . well, I know the number of hoops you have to go through now to deal with anyone. I mean you have to go through local, then regional, then national and, then, go to another department and another minister and another year and another budget—all of that. So it would be nice to have it clearly defined so that it can be either statutory or constitutional.
Ms Thomas: Yes, that is correct. I would agree with that.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Fulton. Roberta Jamieson? No? Mr. Allmand.
Mr. Allmand: It is just a point of order, really, Mr. Chairman, and it is not meant as any criticism of the witnesses, but I do not think we should leave misinformation on the-record. There has not been, not ever was, any change of jurisdiction with respect to Indians. The federal government under the Constitution had, and still has, full jurisdiction with respect to Indians. But the federal government never had any full jurisdiction over the Constitution—that is, what should be in the Constitution or how the Constitution should be changed. That role was always a role of both the federal government and the provinces. Prior to last year it was an undefined process, but the Supreme Court said it was essential, and always had been, that the provinces be involved in constitutional change.
As a matter of fact, the only item that was in the Constitution of 1867, Section 91.24, that referred to Indians, was put there by the agreement of the provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. There was no federal government prior to that. It was an agreement of the three provinces which entered into Confederation. So the jurisdiction with respect to constitutional change has been, is now, and always has been, shared between the provinces and the federal government. The jurisdiction over Indian affairs still is just with Indians. The reason why the provinces are involved is not because it is Indian affairs but, rather, because it is a constitutional matter. We are talking now about what should be in the Constitution and not about questions of administration, programs, et cetera.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Allmand. Are there any further questions? Mr. Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: Yes, I haveseveral questions, but also I have two comments to make. In reading the contents of this brief with respect to the third paragraph and Mr. Oberle’s statement, I do not think the witnesses are saying that the people representing the aboriginal groups should be members of Parliament. I think what they are basically saying… and I hope I understand it correctly as I do not want to be putting words into their mouths—is that the current make-up of the special committeee is embodying the government-created division of the Indian people. So they are saying that you have a committee and you have native people on it, but you have different labels for them. I think that is what they are saying, not that they are not called MPs. I do not know if I am correct in that.
Ms Thomas: That is right.
Mr. Chartier: The other matter is I am not sure if they are giving misinformation as well. I know Mr. Allmand is a lawyer. I happen to know a little bit about the law as well, and I am not so sure that the witnesses are incorrect. The federal government has had, as far as I am concerned, the power to amend the constitution with respect to Indian matters and were the sole people responsible for aboriginal title. It is only recently with the new Canada act that the provinces are involved. But that is, as I say, a legal matter.
Mr. Allmand: —questioned last year.
Mr. Chartier: We could debate that, but I do not think the witnesses are in a position to be able to know that fine line.
I just want to put on the record as well that I do not think the witnesses should be expected to know that fine distinction when lawyers themselves are not totally sure of it. One of us could be right and we could both be wrong.
Mr. Penner: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if Mr. Allmand and Mr. Chartier could have a debate on another day.
An hon. Member: I agree.
Mr. Penner: It is an interesting debate, but if they have some questions for the witnesses, I would like to suggest that they do so. Thank you.
Mr. Allmand: Good point.
Mr. Chartier: Very good point. Supper will be had fairly soon.
My question is basically with respect to reinstatement. I am not sure what your position is with respect to that, but could you give us a comment with respect to your views on the possibility of reinstatement of Indian women and their children who have lost status under the Indian Act?
Ms Thomas: I think we are in total agreement with native women who have lost their status to have it reinstated. I think that has to be addressed, and it has to be addressed before the constitutional debate develops, because it goes hand in hand with the issue of self-government.
Ms Robinson: The idea of status and non-status Indian is an aberration of the white man, I believe. I am non-status to a white person; she is status. However, I believe this is the only race of people in the world where a portion of a race has been declared a nonentity.
As to the resource question and reinstatement, I believe there are some bands who fear the reinstatement because of a lack of resources on the reserve. My suggestion is that those bands and those reserve people will stick to their guns as to land claims. My concern is the urban Indians in towns and cities, and there you will find the human resources, the people,
and especially the young people to educate into the professions. I do not believe off-reserve Indians are really concerned with money or material things, just an identity and the unity of Indian people as a whole. Thank you.
Mr. Chartier: I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Ms Isaac.
Ms Isaac: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have just one question. What are some of the programs provided for urban Indians in your area, and are they adequate in meeting their needs?
Ms Thomas: The programs that are provided through the Kermode Friendship Centre are quite varied, but they are not adequate. We are experiencing being shoved from one government level to another due to the fact that we are off- reserve. I think that needs to be seriously addressed; also the whole issue that Mr. Fulton brought up regarding the resources. That is where it needs to be addressed, and it needs to be developed.
Ms Isaac: Thank you.
The Vice-Chairman: Ms Jamieson.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Much to everyone’s surprise, I am not going to comment on the issue that they raise on status on the committee, whether you should be full ex-officio or liaison. I am going to leave that question to see how this works out and I will reserve judgment.
I only have one question, and that is: Do you feel that even though you are in urban areas you are still subject to Indian government decisions that are made on your behalf in your home communities?
Ms Thomas: Yes. A prime example of that would be in trying to address some of the social problems of native people who are living off-reserve. For instance, the whole issue of alcoholism, because we are funded through the federal government, the province says that the federal government should really fund you adequately because that is where you are getting your funding from, and the federal government says: Well, you are dealing with off-reserve native people, so therefore you should go back to the provinces. Of course it affects us.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. That is all.
The Vice-Chairman: Are there any further questions? Seeing none, I would like to thank you, Ms Thomas and Ms Robinson for your presentation tonight. Have you any further comments?
Ms Thomas: No.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you very much then for your brief.
The committee will stand adjourned until tomorrow morning. However, I have a message. We would like to start at 9.00 a.m. sharp. Our first witnesses will be here on time. They have a difficulty in that they have to leave at a certain time, which I believe is 11.00 a.m. They will be ready to go at 9.00 a.m. if we could be in our seats at that time.
So the meeting stands adjourned to the call of the Chair, which will be at 9.00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
From the North Coast Tribal Council:
Mr. Johnson Gordon, Senator.
Mr. Francis Lewis, President.
Mr. Frank Parnell, Manager.
From the Nishga Tribal Council:
Reverend Herbert McMillan, Elder, New Aiyansh.
Reverend Percy Tait, Translator, New Aiyansh.
Mr. James Gosnell, President.
Chief Council Alvin A. McKay, Lakalsap.
Bishop John Hannen.
Chief Councillor Rod Robinson, Vice-President, New Aiyansh.
Mr. Stuart Leggatt, Legal Counsel.
Mr. Bruce E. Cottingham, Advisor.
Reverend Hubert Stevens, Vice-President and Chief
Councillor of Kincolith.
From the Kitamaat Village Council:
Chief Councillor Reg Smith.
Councillor Morris Amos.
From the Kitsumkalum Band:
Chief Cliff Bolton.
From the Kermode Friendship Society:
Ms. Viola Thomas, Executive Director.
Ms. Janice Robinson, Board of Director.
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