Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 8 (17 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 8 (17 February 1983).
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 8
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Thursday, February 17, 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
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1983
The Special Committee on Indian Self-Government met in Prince Rupert, British Columbia at 9:09 o’clock a.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 Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council: Mr. Neil Sterritt, President and Mr. Ken Muldde, Treasurer. From the Council of the Haida Nation: Grand Chief Percy Williams and Mr. Ernie Collison, Board Member. From the Massett band Council: Councillor Frank Collison and Ms. Andrea Dickson, Band Manager. From the Skidegate Band Council: Mr. Miles Richardson Jr., Band Manager.
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. Sterritt from the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council made a statement followed by an audio-visual presentation and, with Mr. Muldde, answered questions.
It was agreed that the brief entitled: “A Presentation to Federal Standing Committee on Indian Government” submitted by the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council and the five graphics referred to in the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council’s audio-visual presentation be printed as an appendix to this day’s Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (see Appendix “SEND-10”).
It was agreed that the document entitled “Funding for tribal councils in British Columbia-an Interim Policy”, dated December, 1982, tabled by the Nishga Tribal Council in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Wednesday, February 16, 1983, be filed with the Clerk of the Committee. (Exhibit G)
Grand Chief Williams from the Council of the Haida Nation made a statement.
Councillor Collison and Ms. Dickson from the Massett Band Council each made a statement and, with Mr. Richardson Jr. from the Skidegate Band Council, and Grand Chief Williams
and Mr. Collison from the Council of the Haida Nation, answered questions.
The Vice-Chairman assumed the Chair.
Grand Chief Williams made a statement.
At 1 :31 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Clerk of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Thursday, February 17, 1983
The Chairman: Good morning.
For our first appearance today we have the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council. The tribal council has prepared a brief, which will be distributed very shortly. The President, Mr. Neil Sterritt, is leading the delegation, and I will call upon Mr. Sterritt to introduce the other members of the delegation who are with him.
Then we can proceed directly into your brief. We understand you have another pressing commitment later this morning, and we want to spend as much time as possible with you; as much time as you have available.
You may proceed, sir.
Mr. Neil J. Sterritt (President, Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to welcome you to this part of British Columbia, and hopefully at some time in the future we can welcome you to our territory, about 200 miles inland, up the Skeena. We are very much looking forward to this session with you this morning.
I should advise you that I have not handed out our brief yet, and I will not until after I have done the presentation, because I would like to deal with the presentation. Our brief is brief. It touches on some key points. I will ask at the end of the presentation to have you accept it as part of the record, as well as some of the charts I want to put onto the screen here, through the projector.
Before I do that, I would like to ask the two gentlemen who are with me to introduce themselves and tell you who they are and what they do with our tribal council.
Mr. Ken Muldoe (Treasurer, Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council): I am Ken Muldoe. I am Treasurer of the Gitksan Carrier Tribal Council.
Mr. Elmer Derrick (Advisor to Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council, Member of Kitwancool Band): My name is Elmer Derrick. I am from the Kitwancool Band. My role in the tribal council is as an advisor to the tribal council I am also a hereditary chief from the Kitseguecla, Hagwilget.
Mr. Sterritt: Thank you, Ken and Elmer.
I sat and listened to the presentations and the questioning yesterday, and nothing was presented yesterday that takes away from anything that we intend to present. In fact, it enhances it. Further to that, we found the questioning very interesting, and we view your committee and the members of Parliament here as an opportune time to go into full dialogue on some of the questions you asked yesterday. I would like to say that we welcome the chance to talk about any aspect of
those. In fact, I do not see how we can separate this process from land claims or from the Constitution.
For that reason, if you have questions in any of those areas, we would try to answer them. In fact, the problem for the past 112 years, since Confederation, in British Columbia, has been that people have had a narrow mandate and refused to discuss those areas.
The important words I want to bring to you were stated by one of our hereditary chiefs in the period between 1912 and 1915, when the McKenna-McBride Commission came throughout British Columbia reassessing the reserves. At that time the only mandate that important committee had was to talk about the reserves. But the only thing, the only issue, that was important to the people they were talking to-and they were sovereign people-the only issue was the land claim. But they could not hear that. That was very unfortunate. One of the statements that one of our high chiefs made, in response to the issues that were on the floor, was, we want the opportunity to define our relationship with Canada; we do not want reserves. But nobody could hear that, and nobody really understood what they were saying.
So what has happened in all of these presentations since and they went on yesterday and they will go on possibly for another 70 years, or longer, if we do not sit down and have the opportunity to define our relationship with Canada-that is really what you are saying, I think, in an Indian government bill, if that is how you proceed. That is what we are saying in the comments we are going to make that relate to your specific mandate of an Indian government bill.
So what I want to do is pick up on the words of that elder. I view this as an opportunity to try to inform you about the issues that are important to us in relation to the Constitution, in relation to land claims, in relation to the Indian government bill. This is an opportunity for the Gitksan-Carrier to define their relationship with Canada; and you do not do that in one issue. Land claims are not an issue; they are a process. The process can only begin with education, and it is our responsibility to try to inform you, as members of Parliament, what the process is. The process will go on after, if there is ever a land claim settlement in British Columbia, and it must go on now.
We cannot separate these issues.
What I want to talk about today is Indian government in its purest form. Indian government in its purest form existed for thousands of years in North America, but I am only going to talk about the Gitskan and the Carrier.
Indian government for our people existed for another 400 years after Europeans first came to North America. There are assumptions that the Europeans have brought with them about Indian government. One of the overriding assumptions is that Indian government institutions are inferior and non-adaptable. The other assumption that is very important to questions, I
think, in your minds and ours today is the assumption that today’s European governments in Canada are more enlightened than those of the past.
I hope that through our presentation I can demonstrate that the process that began with Confederation in many ways continues today. So I am going to tell you something about who the Gitksan and the Carrier are. I am going to talk about Indian government of the past because we have to have a framework to talk about Indian government today. We cannot just slide over all those assumptions. So I want to tell you something about that Indian government that existed in 1800 and 1700 and 1600. It is very important to what we are going to talk about today.
After I have done that, I want to talk about influences on Indian government since contact. Then I want to talk about Indian government today. It is at that point, after I have done that, that we start to get into what Indian government will or may or can be in the future. We have to have a framework; we have to understand the problem.
I view your committee as a group of important people who want to solve a problem. If you do not have a full comprehension of that problem, full understanding, then I think you will only solve part of the problem. I suspect, from hearing the sincere questions and some of the comments that many of you made yesterday, that you would like to solve the problem, just as we would. I want to go even further: I think it is in your Interests in Canada and it is in our interest as Indians to solve this problem. I think it would be of benefit to Canadians for us to be on our feet in Canada, and I intend to demonstrate that.
I am going to be dealing with some slides, with the map on the wall, and with this flip chart, in order to try to make my points.
First of all, the map on the wall here is a map of the Gitksan and the Carrier territory. It is roughly 400 miles long from the south to the north and it averages 50 miles wide. It is 22,000 square miles of territory, and it is the territory that our high chiefs owned, ruled, governed and controlled for thousands of years. That is not to say that the boundaries did not expand and retreat, but that is the way it was about 1850. Now, I am talking about two different groups: I am talking about the Gitksan-and you can see a dash-line here: the Gitksan are north of there; the Carrier are south.
The Carrier people are related to the Dene or the Athapascan and they are part of a very large Athapascan group that goes from the Yukon to New Mexico. They speak approximately the same language. There are connections.
The Gitksan are in this area-it is about 16,000 square miles; this is about 6,000–and we are related by language to the Nishga, on our left, and the Tsimshian, down to the southwest.
Kitimat is right here, and you had a fine presentation from the Kitamat Village; Terrace is right here; Prince Rupert is out here; the Village of Smithers is here in this area.
The native population in that area that belongs to our tribal council is over 5,000. The non-native population in that area is roughly 8,600. That is very important. It is important to know that relationship-a total of about 14,000 people.
The dominant native centres: you could draw a circle; you would have a 30-mile radius and all of the villages we occupy today would be in it-Kispiox, Sikadoak, Gitanmaax, Kitseguecla Kitwancool, Moricetown and Hagwilget. The major non-native villages or communities are Houston, Telkwa, Smithers and Hazelton.
Something very important to the background of what I want to present is our economic and social picture today.
In 1980-because today is a very extreme situation-and in the years leading up to 1980, the average unemployment rate amongst our people in our territory was 65%, and in some of the villages it was as high as 90%. At that time the national average was somewhere in the range of 6% to 8%. In 1983 the average unemployment amongst the Gitksan and the Carrier is over 90% and the national average is somewhere around 10% to 12%, perhaps a little higher. Now, 12% is considered almost an emergency situation in Canada, a very extreme and dangerous situation for Canada. Yet we live with six times that at the best of times.
The welfare that is poured only in to our people in our territory is over $2 million per year in 1978 to 1980. I do not have the figures for the welfare in 1983, but when that kind of a situation goes on for long, you start to have social problems: alcoholism, family breakdowns, family violence, medical problems, educational problems, social disintegration in the community. Now, any society can withstand that for a period of time. You take away the economic, and the social links in the community will hold the community together. But when that goes on for a period of time, after a while you cannot recover it. You have to do a lot in order to get your people back on their feet economically.
I intend to demonstrate how the legislation and policies of Canada for 112 years have slowly brought us to this condition. Even when Canada was in the good times of the late 1970s our people were not doing well.
The other thing that I think is very important is that there must be a fundamental unit that every society hinges on in order for the society to survive. In our case, it is the extended family; in North America today, it is what is called the nuclear family. The only difference between the two is that the extended family for us includes somewhere between 20 and 50 people, which would include grandparents, aunts and uncles, mother and father, children, nephews, nieces and so on. For the nuclear family, it includes mother, father and children.
Now, there is nothing new about that. It is not unique to the Gitksan and the Carrier or to native people. It was the way it was around 1900 for everyone, and in fact, until the Industrial Revolution. Before the Industrial Revolution, the extended family was probably the basic economic survival unit for any society, anywhere in the world.
There is something very important about that, though. The Industrial Revolution-and it is just an aside–occurred probably because of the agriculture of the North American Indians. It would not have been possible for the Industrial Revolution to occur if it had not been for the cultures of North America and talking the vegetables to Europe so they could grow enough to allow people to collect in and around factories.
So we were a very important link in everything you see around you here today; but people tend to forget that. I want you to remember all the economic and social activities of our people centred on this family, the extended family.
Now, that gives you a bit of a background. It shows you where we were, who we are, in terms of the extended family. Each of the names you see in a territory is the name of a high chief … Those are all head chiefs. They were the rulers of extended families. These names stay forever on this piece of land you see.
This map has four colours on it: brown, yellow, green and maroon or purple. The yellow refers to the eagle clan; brown refers to the wolf; green refers to the frog, and purple refers to the fireweed. Those are the main subdivisions amongst our people; and so, wherever you see a name, you have an extended family or a ruler who was ruler over several extended families. I do not have it on this map, but there are large village territories that go with each of those names: Simadeeks, Wiik H. Leengwax, Axti Hükw, Am Lakyeltqu, Luutkudjtüwas, Yak Yak, Nügyap, Wüseeks, Gwoinü.
Now, I want to talk to you about the Indian government of the past. I am only going to give you a snapshot, because if I asked any one of you to tell me about European government of today or Canadian government of today, you could not do it in 20 minutes. So I can only give you something maybe you can relate to, maybe you can focus on, to understand what Indian government was for us in 1850 and even more recently.
I am going to talk about the feast hall. I do not know how much any of you know about the feast or the potlatch; but it was very much misunderstood by the first missionaries who came, by the first fur traders, by the politicians and the Department of Indian Affairs, because it was outlawed. They did not understand what it was. Perhaps if they had under· stood what it really was, maybe they would not have outlawed it; but maybe there was no way for them to understand it.
I want to tell you that the feast hall was our seat of government. It filled a legislative and judiciary function. It taught us how and why to govern. It is the place where you learned how to assume your seat if you were going to be a hereditary chief and govern your people.
Maybe the way to describe the feast even more specifically for you is to give you a comparison. The feast filled many functions. One of the functions was settling disputes. It was a place to do something about succession, passing on what was being done, passing on property, passing on title.
Because you have a written system in the Canadian court, you have a judge who is the witness. In the Canadian court, you pay the judge to witness on a marriage certificate, on a deed of land, birth certificate, death certificate, whatever official function; and that serves the purpose. Sometimes in high ceremony, you have pomp and splendour connected with it.
Remember, the feast hall is an oral tradition, not written. So how do you record the official events to be sure there is truth in the event and that the community understands it? You call a feast. You call the people for miles. On a major feast, the Nishga would come and witness our business; or the Nishga Would call us, and we would go and witness their important business; or other neighbouring villagers would come in and say yes, that is official business. So your witness was your community; the whole community came to witness.
Now, if you are going to bring those people-and they walked for miles in 1800–you have to feed them. It would be nice to entertain them and entertain them royally. You have to pay them; and you have to pay the high chiefs well, because it is no accident they are high chiefs.
Our name for the high chief is simgiget. “Sim” in front of the “giget” is very important, because it speaks to the truth; it speaks to what is real. They are the people with authority, with power; and therefore they have to have the qualities of leadership, all the qualities you require for any leadership group.
The other people … We use that as a triangle; and that applies to any society in the world, including Canadian society today. There are people with authority and people without. So it was with us. We had the simgiget and the lixgiget, and the lixgiget are simply people without authority. That does not mean they are not important, just as any citizen or voter in Canada is important.
For entertainment, we had magical acts. They -could be viewed as heathen acts by missionaries who misunderstood them, but you entertained and entertained well. The magical act would rival a Houdini, and we could still do them in the 1920s and 1930s; our people were still doing them.
The food to feed those people properly had to be collected for a long time, and there was lots of it. You could not run out of food. You had to do the business. The business was why you were there, whatever it was: a marriage, a divorce, a birth, puberty, handing on a new name to a person who was going through the various stages. You had to pay and pay well. You
had to pay the high chiefs better than you pay the people here. So there are similarities between the court and the feast.
What is important about this snapshot of our feast is that it still exists today. I want to talk about the succession feast. The succession feast is where, when one high chief dies who owns a piece of land, maybe I ,000 square miles, which he rules, the same Wolf Chief, the successor, must take over and the successor will take over the same name. If the Wolf Chief was Tkawok, then the new man who takes over will also be Tkawok. It is up to the new man to pay a lot of money for the privilege of governing. For the responsibility he is not paid; he must pay.
He must have been trained before he takes on that position, and trained properly. His extended family must help him. His immediate family helps him and all the Wolf people, as they go out, pay. So he might put in-in the old days groundhog skins were our wealth. There were many forms of wealth. Today it is dollars. There is nothing wrong with that; not a thing.
So this man who is going to take over puts in a lot of money-$2,000. He also puts in maybe clothes. He brings in rifles; he brings in snowshoes-whatever he feels he must give to people who have done him favours. He pays. The deceased helps him, because he wants to lift that up, and he pays. He can pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 or $4,000, whatever he feels he wants to put in. So if this man put in $2,000 and the deceased put in $3,000, we are up to $5,000 for this feast. Then the wings start to come in, and they put in amounts maybe in the order of anywhere from $100 to $500 or even $1,000. Then the distant relatives and the children come in, and the children will put in anywhere from $1 to $10 and then the people around them will put in differing amounts.
What is important about this is that in the period from December 1, 1982 to February 1, 1983-two months–over $60,000 was paid into the feast. What is done with that money? It goes to pay funeral expenses; it goes to pay for hall rentals; it goes to pay for the people who are supposed to dress the body and move it; it goes to pay for the missionary, the priest, or the minister who may do a ceremony, and then it goes to pay the witnesses. The witnesses in this case, if this is Wolf, will be Fireweed, Frog, and Eagle, and they get paid in differing numbers. A high chief might get up to $50 or even $1 00; a lesser chief will get $10 to $20; and children, younger people, may get $5, $2, depending on how much is in there. There were about three feasts between December 1 and February I and the amount of money, out of a people who are unemployed, that was brought into those feasts was over $60,000.
What is important about this? What is important about this is this is hawal right here. The province says that it owns this land, but there are families who are putting up up to $20,000 per feast to say that they own that land, and it is happening today in the traditional system. If Bennett knew that, he would tax it. He would take money off it. That goes on today on land everybody says we do not own.
I started to record feasts in 1973. I have taken a rough estimate of how much has gone through in royalties, succession dues on our land, people paying for what you call the trap line today, and what we call our hunting ground, fishing ground, berry ground. The amount approaches $1 million in succession dues, and that does not count the thousands of years during which this went on before Europeans arrived in exactly the same feast.
That is Indian government. We pay taxes for our own land. If I am in line for a hereditary chiefs name, I must be prepared to put up this kind of money and also for a feast in the Fireweed House. I have to be prepared to put in $100, $200, $500, as it demands, to protect the land and to pay for those expenses. For a very high chief who also is a commercial fisherman, or a Jogger, or whatever he is, he pays taxes twice and he pays heavily. It is his obligation, it is his duty and his responsibility.
So what does he pay for? He buys fishing ground, he pays for fishing ground; he pays for a hunting ground; he pays for berry grounds; he pays for the right to say that that is his totem pole; and he pays for the symbols of sovereignty. The symbols of sovereignty are the amalite, the gwes alite, the rattle, the talking stick-and you saw all those yesterday when the Nishga came in with their sovereign people. They wore the symbols of sovereignty, because the crest on that blanket tells how that land was acquired and our relationship with it. And if they had sung their song, that is a powerful song that has come down over the centuries. The pomp and splendour that goes with your royal events also goes with ours.
So we, the Gitksan-Carrier, say we own 22,000 square miles, and we are paying for it. We have paid for it for. thousands of years. It is also important to note that it is the extended family, the hereditary chief, who owns that land and owns the resources and is responsible for them, and we have approximately 100 extended families, 5,000 people, who all have a title, one way or another, in that land.
The reason why I tell you about the Yukw, or the succession feast, is that it still exists almost in its purest form today. We had about 32 other feasts, and most of them are of lesser importance because of the imposition of European government. What is important about these leaders is that, for various reasons, they were the equivalent of any leader in the world when Europeans arrived. People who have to develop leadership qualities in any system, European or otherwise, are equal. But what happened, if our royalty was here and then the people were here? You have royalty-the Queen, in England- and you have the Prime Minister of Canada, you have the premiers and then, from both, you have your bureaucrats.
Who was sent to deal with us? Our royalty had to deal with your bureaucrats. These people talk the same language. They
talk the same language, but we were denied the opportunity to do that. And the attitude came through there.
Even more, there was a language and an attitude barrier. If we could have had the benefit of being able to express ourselves perfectly in English or whatever language French-! think things might have been different today. A conservation officer deals with the high chief and they cannot speak the same language, even if they are both speaking English, because their frame of reference, where they come from, is different.
Something about our system. An elder said to me two years ago, you know, before the Europeans arrived, the wealth of our nation went round and round in our territory and everyone benefited. Today, the wealth just leaves our area and we are poor.
That is just a snapshot of Indian government from the past. What I want to do now is show you the influences on Indian government since the Europeans arrived. I want to do that with some transparencies, but I want to do one diagram first to just try to give you an idea of what I am trying to say.
This is a time line. This is an arbitrary or an ordinal scale here. It could be zero to 100 or zero to 10, whatever; it does not matter. This starts in 1800 and it goes to the year 2000, 1900, 1950, 1850. The first Europeans arrived in our land in 1820 and there was only one person. At that time, that extended family, because of its economic activities, was powerful, independent, proud. We had problems-starvation-but we still could bounce back because all our social institutions were intact.
Now, I have already told you that in 1983 we have an average of 90% unemployment. The question is, and it is an important one, when did that line come down? What I am saying is that this is a measure of our degree of independence. Just bear with me. You can question it on technicalities, but that is not what I am trying to get across. It is a measure of our independence, and I am suggesting, for the sake of example, that 10% employment is also a measure of our independence or dependence. When did that line come down?
Missionaries arrived in our area in the 1880s. When did the line come down1 This lady beside Jim. when did that line come down?
An hon. Member: Would you repeat the question, please?
Mr. Sterritt: When did we start to lose our independence? When did the line come down?
An hon. Member: Well, about the 1800s.
Mr. Sterritt: Okay, so you are saying around 1880, 1850?
An hon. Member: Yes.
Mr. Sterritt: Warren?
Mr. Allmand: Sure. I would think it would be a continual declining …
Mr. Sterritt: Something like this?
Mr. Allmand: Yes. I would think so, guessing.
Mr. Schellenberger: About 1930 or 1940.
Mr. Sterritt: Okay. Somewhere in here. So you are saying that it stayed up there and did something like that and then started down.
Mr. Manly: I would say that there was a continual decline; that it was accelerated by the missionaries and then by the building of the railway and the telegraph system.
Mr. Sterritt: Okay. What is really valuable is that if this line comes down here, let us say it comes down like that, then this tribal council has one hell of a job to get us back up again, because a lot of our social institutions will be gone-the things that we may be able to build on-not to be romantic about our Indian government of the past, but take the best Of it and connect it with what is today in reality and bring them forward. If that happened back there we are in trouble.
If, as this gentleman in the corner says, it is around 1930 or 1940, it is only a 40-year-old problem for us-and I am not talking for other people in British Columbia or Canada, just for us-it is not as big a problem. We may be able to do something if we still have something of that original leadership quality in some of our high chiefs in their ability to pass it on to us.
This gentleman is right. That is how it happened. It is really important to notice, and I am talking about the economic activity centred on the extended family, that it is the impact on the extended family and the removal of the economic activities that brings us to our feet, brings us down.
Okay. Can you ail sec that fairly well? What this shows is the same scale, and it shows the years. It shows our economic activities from before contact until 1983, and what it shows is that we thrived when Europeans arrived, because we were adaptable and because we had our leadership system intact, and the economic activities that took place throughout this period of time generally could be based on the extended family, on our basic economic unit. But then something happened in around here to start bringing it down.
It is important to highlight some dates right now. In 1947, the DIA brought in welfare. In 1951, the Socred government brought in selective logging, capital-intensive clear-cut logging. Up until then, all of our families would go out logging as families, or they would go to Rupert as families to fish. When I was growing up, families were coming to Rupert to fish, families were coming home in the fall, families would go trapping, families would go logging.
The legislation, laws, and policy. This dot shows when the legislation came into place. Almost every bit of it before 1900-and yet the line stayed up. In spite of the legislation and the laws, the line stayed up because of the economic activities. It did not mean that there were not influences. There were many. But the combined effect of those laws was to
create non-status Indians; to alienate the traditional leadership, because of the voting laws to exclude Indians from developing a society into which they were being forced to assimilate- I do not have to tell you about that; I see it in some of the testimony already-to limit the economic pursuits of Indian people and seriously to undermine our government that I showed you here already.
Now our government-if we outlawed your courthouse, your theatre and all those places where you meet, it would have a devastating effect on your society, and that is the effect on us of outlawing the potlatch. But we went underground. We did not stop; we went underground. I could go into a lot of detail here, but I am not going to. That can come later maybe, some other time. But in spite of all of those, this is what happened.
Now what is really important, though, is that for many of these the policy did not take place until the 1940s. That is what is important. Legislation as such is meaningless; it is policy. And it is not just the policy, it is the individual who decides to interpret it. That is what is important, and that is whom we dealt with. That is the responsibility. That is where the responsibility lies-with the person who interpreted the policy-and they often interpreted it zealously. They were doing their job; they did their job well.
Other influences: smallpox. Way back in the 1830s, 1860, we went from a population of 6,000 to 1,500; actually 1,200, by this time.
The missionaries came in, but that had a very disruptive effect. Our people would pack up and move because a missionary wanted them with him so badly; he wanted to save them so badly. Do not forget I showed you what I called the “leadership triangle”. There are all these influences coming to bear. You have the non-status Indians; you have missionary influence; you have economic influences; you have legislation and laws, policies-all coming to bear on this economic unit, this extended social and political unit, the extended family. Some missionary schools were splitting children and parents; the residential schools were dividing children and parents. From the viewpoint of building on the image of self-worth, it was very negative. In some cases, that exists even today.
So the main point I want to make-which is not to say that the extended family is the way of the future-is that it tells us something about the past: the main economic unit, the extended family, thrived until as recently as about 1949, and then it plummeted.
Now let us talk about Indian government today. First of all, the remnant of pure Indian government exists in the feast hall. It is important to note that there is no connection between that and the band council. There is no relationship, even though Kenny Muldoe may be a chief councillor in his village-he is not right now, but if he were-he would have a place in the feast hall right beside a head chief. He is way up in the ranking. But he would go to the feast and carry out his duties
and his obligations and then the next morning, he would go to the band council, where he would start working on roads and sewers. He could do nothing, because of policy and DIA, to connect the business which had taken place the night before with the band council. So the power, the authority with respect to land, resources and local needs, rests with the simgiget, the high chief-and that exists today. But there is nothing, there is no bureaucracy, for them to deal through.
Now, the other Indian government which exists today as you know it is the band council, as defined by the Indian Act. The band council is primarily an agent of the federal government and it obtains its authority and power from the federal government. We talked about authority and power here. It comes from the Creator through to the hereditary chiefs, down to the people. Band councils come from the federal government.
Band councils do not set their goals according to the needs of the community. They are the needs perceived by the DIA, and if they do define their goals, their policies and their plans according to their needs, they are stopped when they try to get support financia1ly. They cannot do it. Economic development, social development, you name it-they cannot get it, if it is going to deal with the real needs of that community.
So here is a comparison of planning hierarchies. On the one side there is the traditional hierarchy of 1850; on the other side there is the federal hierarchy of 1983. That is the leadership triangle today: the village; Ottawa, Vancouver, Hazelton district office, regional office, district office, band council, and a questionable link with the traditional system that is almost totally divorced. It is a questionable link.
To use some management jargon, I guess, I would say that if we divide the activities of any planning hierarchy into four or five, there would be a review and control function; there would be the purpose-you know, what is it you want to do–there would be action goals, your objectives, your targets. The timeframe for those is-well, review and control is something you do all the time. Your purpose is infinite, generally; it goes on for a long time. For your action or your goals, it would be three to five years. Your objectives would be up to one year, and your targets are the things you do on a monthly basis.
The function which is carried out in this area is policy and in this area is operations. Well, the simgiget, by definition, do all those things, and more. That was one of the definitions of a high chief: he could do everything that anyone down here could do but they could not do everything going up this way. And one of the humbling things about our leaders was that they did. They got their hands dirty and yet they had the qualities to be the equivalent of any statesman.
All right. So, what is the planning hierarchy today, federal Indian? Hazelton district office does the review and control on an ongoing basis. They control. The purpose is outlined by Ottawa, as defined by the Indian Act. Action goals? It is Vancouver office. Objectives? The Hazelton district office comes into play, and the band council-finally. The targets are
the band council and band staff. They simply carry out what is outlined right here. They have to do it; that is their function.
Now, what does that mean for the future? Well, we can only speculate, because we do not have the answers. So Jet us speculate. If planning is going to be meaningful, it has to relate to the people themselves and their needs-all their needs: the simgiget and the people.
For the sake of argument, but only that, let us say that the tribal council plays a regional role and the simgiget see it as their body. They see it as their bureaucracy to do their thing. They bless it. The band councils are the boards of directors of tribal council, if you want to call them that. So they have a function in tribal council. But here is who blesses them. And in the DIA system, because of the way the Indian Act is set up, that is how tribal councils have to be. It is the band councils which guide them, and they have no relationship to all the things which are done.
So we come down to action goals. Tribal council for the future could fill a function of district programs and band programs. And the district-wide or territory-wide programs would come from this-the band programs. Quite simply, you could change the Indian office in Hazelton today, and the tribal council theoretically could take it over. Then the tribal council staff could carry out these things and the band staff could carry out those. So that could be an Indian government if it related to all the needs.
I have talked about our background. I have talked about the basic economic unit, our leadership. I have talked about Indian government of the past. I have shown you the influences on Indian government for 112 years, at least. And I think it is important to do this one once more-that is, simply that a whole bunch of things came into play right here.
The hereditary chiefs who were in power were starting to die off, and the young people who were supposed to start taking over were forced by many of these factors into other economic activities because they were survivors. And what effectively was happening was that there was a separation, in some ways, although not completely, of the leadership from the people. It was replaced by DIA welfare, DIA policies. As a rough guide, in 1980-and it is close to the truth-that is about the way it was. Those who are making it come from there. Those who are having problems come from here, because they have been separated by all those things, and more.
So, when we focus on solutions to Indian problems like economic development, the bureaucracy focuses on things that these people can do; it does not focus on things that they can do. Those people can relate to any activity, any society in the world, but without the leadership, these people have problems.
I happen to be on the Canadian Consultative Committee on Multiculturalism, and they said why does that not apply to the people who come from other countries-the immigrants? I
said, you will find, if you look at the refugees and the immigrants, that through the simple fact that people have the ability to get here and go through the process, this is where they come from, from around the world.
When you get refugees, you get all. Some of them make it, and a lot of them have trouble in Canada. We have trouble in our own land. I think this applies. I think it is true.
If one of these people did die, and one of the people from here did not come up to take over in the 1940s or 1950s, they would say to the people in here: it is time to go cut wood, let us go get fish, let us get berries, let us go to the coast, let us go hunting, let us go trapping, let us go logging. These people did that; they would look after them, feed them, bring them in. If this person did not take over, these people could go and get welfare, if they wanted it, because it was available in 1947.
So these are the problems. That is what we have to deal with. What I am saying is we have to design economic alternatives that meet all our needs, and as a priority, focus on here. I have lots of examples, lots of details of how it works. I will not go into it now. You may have questions, and maybe I will expand later. I do not want to talk much longer.
For you people there is all that legislation. We now have the Canada Act, we have land claims, we have the Indian government bill. If the Indian government bill simply does what all this has done, and further confirms and defines the Indian Act in the way it has in the past, then this line will continue to go down. The challenge-and I say it is a challenge for the Indian people-is to make that line go back up. That can happen if we, as Indians, are prepared to tell you about the problems and talk about them openly and honestly. We do not have all the answers-we are simply defining the problems-and we hope we can come up with solutions. We are moving in that direction.
The one issue that determines everything we do, that addresses everything important to Indians, is land claims and aboriginal rights. Land claims, in our definition as a tribal council, define a way of life. As I have said, they relate to the choices on economic activities, but you have to have an economic base, you have to have a resource base. We do not have that, because it has been taken away from us. This is a very important issue to our people. So is the Indian government bill. So is the Canadian Constitution. And they cannot be dealt with separately. We have an obligation to help you to understand the issues. I hope that this does that in some way.
With that, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to come before you. We are really pleased that you are showing
the sincerity you are and we hope that this will be a building for the future, not just another piece of legislation that, though it may be well intentioned, brings that line further down.
The originals of the charts I have put up, I will file with you. I also have our brief, which is very brief, and it touches on the things I have said. I would like to see it entered into the record, as well as the statements I have made.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Sterritt, for your presentation.
We will begin by asking Ms Jamieson for some comments and questions.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Since I have so many questions, I am not going to make very many comments. First of all, am I to understand, Mr. Chairman, that the brief that was presented along with the transparencies will appear in the minutes and proceedings?
The Chairman: Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Chairman: It is so ordered.
Ms Jamieson: First of all, I thought it was most interesting and, in a lot of senses, very refreshing to see the audio-visual presentation, for me at least, and I thought it was a very useful tool to explain some of these very difficult concepts to committee members.
I will start off with this question. One of the dilemmas that this committee is struggling with is this. We are told that the first nations want to define Indian government for today, some by taking from the traditional and adapting it to fit today; others want to go a route similar to municipal governments. From every witness we hear we are told that this is going to be different in each area. This committee feels, at the same time, that we have to report in September and that we have to come up with some recommendations. It seems to me that the challenge for this committee is to find things that we can recommend that will allow that to occur within the first nations, and within Indian governments, without inhibiting or imposing something on it.
Would you speak to that-and if you have any suggestions, please bring them forth.
Mr. Sterritt: There are two things, Ms. Jamieson. I think, first of an, that it is old business. Second, it is business that has to be taken care of. In some ways, it has been taken care of in James Bay, it has been taken care of in the Yukon, it is in process of being taken care of with the Nishga. Someone commented yesterday that there are about 500-odd bands and that you would have to do it for every band.
I think that for the Gitksan and Carrier-we have seven bands with the Gitksan. If you look at the linguistic groups or
the natural nations-and we are talking about a nation approach … you do not have 584. I think it should be a nation approach, which would bring the number down much smaller. At the same time, it is still old business, and people should get on with old business. That is number one.
Number two: we think that the Canadian Constitution is the place where it will be handled most effectively. It should be addressed there, and it gives us a powerful lever to work from in relation to the things that have to be done in terms of old business, in terms of things that are important to us. We see the meetings next month as an important step towards that. Something must be defined in the Constitution that can help to deal with all of that. I think it is an important part of what you are doing. It is a very important part of what this committee is doing. How that will be written into the Canadian Constitution, I cannot say, but that is one way to address it.
In terms of this committee, you really have a challenge. I sat yesterday and listened to the different approaches, the different presentations. We all have a similar theme. I can imagine, as you have been across Canada, that you have heard many different things. You have heard people say they want the DIA, and others say they do not. I think that what has to happen there, in terms of a process of finding out what to do, is to recognize that some of us are at different stages. What we have to find out is whether we are talking to part of the problem or the whole problem, and whether we really all want the same thing.
For example, there are people who will protest against the Canadian Constitution meetings in March and there are people who are prepared to go. Now, the one common theme there is that we all want to define our relationship with Canada and we just have different ways of doing it. We can fall into the trap of saying those guys are wrong to be protesting; or they can say they are wrong to be going. But that is not the issue. I think that is what this committee has to … Where they have to start to approach it is, are you talking about the whole problem or part of it? It is a big mandate; it is tough, and I suspect that you may want to pick selected parts of Canada and sit down with some of those people to address those further between now and the end of your mandate.
Ms Jamieson: It seems to me what I am hearing from you is that there will have to be some kind of process-James Cosnell referred to a process yesterday … -whereby each nation is involved head to head, or however you want to phrase it, as equals negotiating the relationship that they want with the federal government. Am I hearing you correctly?
Mr. Sterritt: That is how we view it. We think the Gitksan and the Carrier have to have an opportunity to negotiate with the government. And by the way, we are ready. We have been doing research since 1977 in earnest. We have done an awful Jot of work; we have all our information together. We are ready to start negotiating in June in the preliminary matters on land claims. We will be ready to get into the substance of our major issue by about December. We are ready to go.
It is really interesting. I thought that the presentation by the Kitsumkalum and the Kitamaat was really interesting, because they have answers. They have solutions.
There is a band that did not come here. They phoned me. They are called the Fort Babine band. It is really unfortunate they did not come. They are a band which is wrestling with staying out of the DIA; staying out of the bureaucracy. But because a bunch of their members have moved to a larger community, they are in it. And they are really doing very well. Now, it is a real problem for them. I thought they were coming; they said they were and they should have, because you would see that you should be dealing with them. They have answers for a lot of your individual bands.
That is all I can say on that.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you.
I would like to raise another dilemma that this committee has been facing. Several members have brought it up in questioning. I do not think they have so far here, but maybe a bit yesterday. And I am sure this is a problem that the Canadian public either does have or will have, understanding how Indian people, first nations … How do you reconcile the first nations saying, we want to exercise our rightful Indian governmental powers~ control our lives; control services; control all the functions that we choose to exercise of our dormant powers, and yet we want to have a special relationship- some people call it a trust relationship-with the federal government? Have you turned your mind to that, and, if so, how do you reconcile those two; or do you?
Mr. Sterritt: First of all, there is no trust. There is no trust relationship. There is said to be a trust relationship, but there is not, and the Musqueam case proves that. The way that line goes proves that the trust relationship has not been interpreted at all. What happened? About Confederation Canada said we will have a trust relationship for the Indian people of Canada, and yet the history shows that that trust was not defined and it was not put into practice. There was no trust relationship. So there is no trust relationship, as far as I am concerned, until it starts to be effected; and it has not. That is one thing.
I think we are saying we want something and I think that something, once again, should be in the Canadian Constitution. Th3.t will not restrict what individuals may want, yet that should define that relationship we want with Canada. I can tell you about a trust relationship that our leaders, our simgiget, have with their house, and that trust relationship is really implicit. It is clear on what they have to do to carry out their trust for their people and where they violate it. Yet the laws of the land are telling us that there is no trust relationship between Canada and the Indians. The practices of 112 years show us there is no trust relationship. I have real problems with that one.
So what I am saying is-and maybe I am speaking for myself here-that the trust relationship should be set aside and our relationship should be defined in the Canadian Constitution. That is what we want. You have defined the trust relationship–not you, but Canada has defined the trust relationship–and defined it wrong.
Does that help?
Ms Jamieson: I think so. I hear you saying that it is not recognized in law. It has not been practised as it ought to have been. But I think I hear you saying it should be there and it should be mutually defined in the future.
Mr. Sterritt: We should not get hung up on the word “trust”.
Ms Jamieson: I agree.
Mr. Sterritt: “Trust” is maybe the wrong word. We should try to define what we really want.
Ms Jamieson: That is why I said “special”.
Mr. Sterritt: What I am saying is that the trust relationship is institutionalized right now through the DIA, and it is sadly lacking. The relationship should be in the Constitution. It should be a constitutional relationship; that is what it has to be, not an institutional relationship.
Ms Jamieson: I want to move on to some other nuts-and-bolts questions, because I see … Those things are going to occur, the constitutional discussions are going to go on. Many people are more optimistic than I am about that meeting in March. I hope something is going to come out of it that will solve some of these issues, but I am afraid it is going to be some years yet before we really settle many of these outstanding issues. In the meantime, it seems to me this committee has to recommend some things that can be done next year, the year after, for example.
I wonder if you can turn your mind for a moment to the area of fiscal relations that this committee has been charged with looking at and comment, for example, on accountability.
Whom do you think Indian government should be accountable to? If you sat through yesterday you also heard some of the discussions, I hope, on the suggested Indian fiscal arrangements commission. Do you have any thoughts in those areas that you would share with us?
Mr. Sterritt: For sure. First of all, if I give you some money to do a job, you are accountable to me. It does not matter whom I give the money to, you will be accountable if I ask you to do a specific task. As long as the Government of Canada gives us some money, we are accountable to whoever gives it to us. I just do not see how you can get around that. It is foolish to say … And the people of Canada will judge that. So what is wrong with that is the source.
I have to go back to this. We are talking about relationships now; government, industry and Indians. There are really no other relationships in Canada. We were here first; these came. This represents the non-Indians. The relationship right now is a dependency one. Dollars flow; policies flow; and the opinion is that we get hand-outs. The fact of the matter is, that is our territory. Alcan wants to dam a river right there and drill through the mountain. They want to drill through a mountain and take water the other way.
Now we are not opposed to Alcan or other people developing in our land, but we are poor people because of this relationship. Our objection, first and foremost, is possible environmental damage, and secondly, that they are taking our wealth out of our land and they have to pay us for it first.
It should come direct to us. The wealth over and above that which goes to fulfilling our needs can go to the province, can go to the feds, if there is any money over and above; because too often there is no money over and above. When the trees are gone, we have nothing; there is no heritage fund for us in our territory.
What I am telling you is that what we have to do is change those relationships. What I am saying is that in the view of Canada, everyone says Indians are dependent, so I am calling this a dependency model. You have probably heard that. I am telling you that there should be a survival model. We want a survival model, and that survival model relates to our needs, the needs of British Columbia and the needs of Canada. It can only happen if those relationships change; and that is a very cozy relationship I do not care how you look at it.
Now, what is important about this? We do not have just Indians in our territory. We also have non-Indians who suffer just as much as we do. We have a Skeena ice arena that was put in by volunteer effort. It is probably the best-run ice arena in British Columbia, but we still have a deficit of $20,000 a year, which is nothing, and yet we cannot raise that. The white people are demanding that we put something into it. We do not
have anything. We have nobody working and we cannot get kids a place to go and have recreation or to create a social function. It finally opened.
Another thing. The Mayor of Hazelton came up to me in 1975, in the middle of the big land claims gefuffle in Canada, and he said, you know, Neil, it would be really great if we could get some of the royalties off all that timber going to Rupert, because when it gets to Rupert it goes through that mill and Prince Rupert gets taxes off our trees. I said that was true, and we will fight for that, but it comes to us first, because we own it. That issue has to be settled first. We are not opposed to the white people in our area. In other words, the issue applies to us all equally. That territory has almost the same boundaries as the Kitimat-Stikeen Regional District as an economic unit. It has been defined for thousands of years. It is a management unit, and that unit should be self-sustaining first and then go to other people.
So what I am saying is that the money comes to us; we are accountable for it. If the money goes through someone else’s hands, whoever gives it to us, we would have to be accountable. We have to remove that. You only do it that way.
The other thing is that we also pay taxes. When I buy gas, I pay taxes in Canada; if I buy booze, I pay taxes; if I buy cigarettes or clothes, I pay taxes. I am also taxed in our own system. But we should be entitled to all those programs other people are entitled to, as well as this relationship. There is a difference there from what …
Do you understand what I am saying? Okay.
Ms Jamieson: Everything seems to come back to the settlement of the title issue and the claim. In the meantime, money is coming through the DIA to your bands. How are you going to move from one to the other? Some of the suggestions we have had are that there will be an Indian fiscal arrangements commission, that we dump the DIA, that we have Indian bands and nations begin to deal directly with Treasury Board, and we do this in the short term while some of these other issues or other discussion processes are ongoing, constitutional land claims. Do you have any comments on that?
Mr. Sterritt: What I am telling you is that we should be getting royalties directly from activities in our area, because we also pay taxes. Through the economic activities of our people, we pay taxes in Canada. There is also, unfortunately, our social condition today, so we have some needs. I do not have an answer to what should be done, but you cannot just cut off the DIA and think you are going to solve the problem. It is a reality; we are living with it and it is going to take a period of time. I do not know how long. I do not know how
those financial relationships will end up being divided, but if in terms of land claims, in terms of our financial needs, we had … Let us say we had an economic development program right now, or something that removed the legislation that does not allow us to fish right at our reserves today, we could start to rebuild right then and there with our people. We would have an economic outlet that would not cost Canada any money. That would be one beginning. There are a whole bunch of fronts we have to operate on, so it is a difficult issue to address, and it will be complicated.
An Indian commission to do it? I would really fear some of these single bodies that may be set up in Ottawa to solve problems. I heard some talk about that yesterday. That is not the answer. If we are a nation, then the nation has to deal with it; we cannot leave it to someone in Ottawa. We as a nation have to be able to define that.
We have some very interesting economic activities, and we can create our own economic activities, alternatives. If you had come up to Hazelton and seen Kassan, that is not trinkets and beads. We have at least five people there who earn over $50,000 a year. That is not trinkets and beads. They do that on their own time, in their own way. We have another 20 or 30 people who make at least $10,000 to $15,000 a year, and then we have some who just feel like doing it. So it is a complex area, the whole economic area. Personally, I fear these big things that are set up in Vancouver or Ottawa to solve problems for us. I disagree with it; I personally disagree with it.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have other questions, but I will hang on. Maybe later.
The Chairman: Thank you, Roberta.
Mr. Allmand: Neil, I want to ask a question which is often discussed by people off the record, but I think it would be good to get it on the record, especially for public education purposes. However, before I ask that question, on that map, for those of us who are strangers here, where does the Skeena River run up through there? Is that it on the western boundary of your territory, and the other major rivers?
Mr. Sterritt: This is the Skeena. It runs right along here, goes right on up and right to the head up there. That is the Skeena. Here are the Nishga villages, and the Nass River runs like this, comes up and over and right to the head of Nass. The Bulkly River, which comes from down here, comes in right at Hazel ton, and those are the three main rivers.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you.
The question I wanted to discussed on the record is this. This is your land, and if governments were to recognize that was your land in the Constitution, how do you visualize your relationships with those non-Indians who are there on your land? Smithers you said was right on your land; the Town of Smithers. Hazelton is either completely or partly on your land. For good or for bad, unjustly or whatever, they are there. Every time we talk and say that it is off the record with these people, they go almost wild, some of them: what is going to happen to us? So how do you visualize your relationships with these non-Indians who are on your land?
Mr. Sterritt: First of all, you know, the Government of Canada came in and said, we own this land and we will give you a deed for it. They said this to non-Indians. Our dispute is with the man who gave the deed, not with the man who has the deed today. So we are not a threat to a man who now owns land there. They are a reality. We are not going to displace them. That is the first and foremost point.
We are not a threat to non-Indians. It is really interesting, in 1977, when we filed our claim, filed that map, the headlines in the Smithers paper that week were “Gitksan-Carrier claims Smithers, Hazelton, Moricetown, Kispiox”. Suddenly we realized-we had seen the Nishga file their claim, and really they have very few white people there … that we were dealing with an element that there were more in our population that were non-Indian. You know, we are not a threat to that piece of property, but there must be redress for us in those areas. We are not talking compensation; we are talking redress, and that comes into it.
Thirdly, we think if the governments of Canada can address the issue of aboriginal rights and land. claims properly, it will be a model for how all the communities in Canada should function. We think it is a model. The people who are living in our area have the same problems as we, generally. Now, they do not have the unemployment we do, but they have the same problems with resources, with companies like Alcan coming in and doing their thing at our expense and at their expense.
We would like to have a say in the local government of the area. We want to have some say-so would they, but we have our issue first. We have to do that, and that should be a model for how things will be done in the future.
If you look at Canada today, that model is not working. The Canadian model of economic development in Canada is not working. We are in a mess; North America is in a mess; the world is ; .. u. mess. You cannot constantly rip off resources and not leave something there; you just cannot take that approach. So we think there will be a definition of a relationship between The non-Indians and we are not a threat. As a matter of fact it
was interesting. A young non-Indian deliberately wrote up a scenario in our area. He is a writer. He writes for magazines. He wrote up a scenario and he went around to the rednecks in our community and presented that scenario to them. He said, tomorrow land claims are settled for the Indians and they are going to manage the game. If you want to go hunting mountain goat, you have to go to the Indian office and get a permit to do that and when you are through you have to bring the horns to them because they use them for ceremonial purposes. He deliberately baited them. They said, well, that would be all right.
I am not kidding. These were the rednecks of the community, who did not understand when they saw it, and he said, that is what it means. No; that will be all right; I could live with that.
There is another thing that we have done since 1975. We have deliberately gone to the Chamber of Commerce; the Jaycees-all of those people-to try to explain this issue so that they will understand it when the time comes. We have to do that. How can the community support something they do not understand? They have to understand it. Now, there are people who will never understand and they do not want to. We are not worried about them. It is the people who want to know and would like to know. So there is a relationship developing and I think that is what you are asking about.
Mr. Allmand: Yes. As I say, we have discussed this among ourselves. Whatever we recommend, even it had 100% support of the Indian people in Canada, to get it through Parliament and legislatures and everything else, we have to widen the understanding of the non-Indian population in Canada about what is really going on. There is a lot of misunderstanding. Just as you say they misunderstood the potlatch; a lot of them misunderstand land claims.
Mr. Sterritt: Warren, I should add to that. That is why I think we have a major obligation as Indians to get out and explain that. We cannot simply say it is our issue, we will deal with it. We have an obligation to go into communities, to come in here and talk to you about it. How can you support what you do not understand? I would not want you to.
Mr. Allmand: Just speaking for myself, I know that over 10 years my understanding went from almost zero to–you know: I have a long way to go, but I feel I know much more today than I did then, just from sitting down talking to people and listening to them.
You said, in answer to one of Roberta’s questions-and I wrote it down. First you said, “If I give you money, you are accountable to me”. In other words, whenever someone gives
money to somebody else, that person becomes accountable to the one who gives the money. But then you went on to say something which, I thought, moderated that a bit. It would seem to say, but if I give you money because I am sitting on your land or using your resources, that is a just return for what you have taken from me. This is another area where public education is necessary. Some Indian organizations are saying to us that they want block-funding arrangements entrenched in the Constitution or they want the same thing for the Indian people of Canada as the provinces have on equalization; it is not just the whim of the government of the day; it is now part of the Constitution that the central government has an obligation to fund. That funding, if I understood you correctly, is not based on the fact that we give you money because it is a welfare thing or it is a handout; if we give you money, it is because we have taken some of your lands. We are sitting on them; we are using the resources.
As one witness said two weeks ago–I forget; I am losing track of time-what we are doing, in fact, as governments in Canada, is paying rent or paying royalties for the use of your resources or land. So it is just a quid pro quo relationship; it is not a handout.
Is that correct? Is that how you … ?
Mr. Sterritt: Sure, but what I am saying is that there is room for a regional economy in our territory and that the money should go directly from whatever is developed there. If Alcan were going to come into our territory, they should have to sit down and we would define what they could and could not do in there and what has to be left, and that money goes direct. If we can develop our regional economies and alternatives, that will benefit our people. That is what we want.
The finest houses in our area were built by Indians in 1900. They learned carpentry just like that, and they built incredible houses for themselves. They did not need the Department of Indian Affairs to build houses for them. We can build our own houses.
There may be financial arrangements from Ottawa on other things. I assume there will be accountability for those funds. I think there probably has to be–that is what I was trying to tell Roberta … but there must also be money coming directly from the resources of our area for which we must be accountable to ourselves, because it is our land, they are our resources. If we make mistakes and we fail, that is our fault. I think it has to be that way.
Okay, how does that funding come? Maybe it is block funding; maybe no strings attached; I do not know.
Right now, if we start to develop politically with funds that come … Our tribal council is developing very well politically and there are a number of others, the Nishga, the Nuu-cha-
nulth, and others, around British Columbia, who are developing very well politically, and the funding is being taken away by the Department of Indian Affairs. It is difficult. As a goal, I would hate to see this funding go on forever. I think we can do it in our land. We have fish coming by us. We can do well. We have trees. We have the Alcans that maybe we will agree to. But something has to stay.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you, Warren.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I found your presentation excellent. I want to zero in a bit on the graph that you showed us, and the triangle. I wonder whether you would comment on how we keep the leadership at home. Is that through a form of self-government based on a strong economic policy that keeps those leaders at home, or will the leadership, the “survivors”, as you call them, be drawn away by white society and what there is to offer?
Do we focus in the initial part of our report on trying to keep the leadership at home through a strong economic base that is self-governed? Is it possible, for example, instead of giving the cheques for welfare to the individuals, to say, well, here is $2 million; you, through your leadership, look after those individuals?
Mr. Sterritt: First of all you asked, how do we keep them at home? All of them are at home. That is one thing. The other thing is, to train and develop a lot of our leadership now, today, they have to go out and get education and then come back. So yes, we have to-but when there is 90% unemployment and the guy wants to work, there is not much to keep him there.
We think fish are the key to economic development for our people up there. If we could sell fish right on the Skeena, there would then be a connection between the parent at home on the reserve and the kid in school. Right now there is not. The kid can go to school and learn something totally foreign, go home, and there is no relationship. If that parent, an elder person who still has the leadership qualities and the working habits, could take young kids to the river, show them how to clean fish, how to prepare them, pack them up, how to sell them, that parent could then start to say to that kid, I think you should go away and learn accounting, or I think you should go and learn biology, or you should become a technician, or we should do something about regenerating that creek on our land because our little enterprise can do better. They will say, you had better go to UBC, or you had better go to BCIT. And then they will come back and they will help. They will also start to build the social interaction. They will also start to build a need for going to school in kids.
We do not have that. There is nothing for an elder who does not even understand the language to encourage a kid to go to school, or for the kid to understand why. It is almost like me and my kids with the computer. I do not understand their language any more.
Financial arrangement–could you just repeat that part again?
Mr. Schellenberger: What I am trying to say is-1 think that is what I am getting from you: if you do not have the potential to create an economic base, any financial arrangements that we suggest-block funding or whatever-really only mean that you are an economically dependent group of people. So the funding has to be in the sense that it creates again that economic base which keeps the leadership viable and keeps the community viable. Otherwise the draw towards welfare or other things outside will keep the community down. That is what I am trying to get you to make some comments on.
Mr. Sterritt: I think there has to be a transition. We are, unfortunately, a welfare society right now so there has to be a transition. We have to create the alternatives. We have people who are alcoholics whom you just cannot take and put to work right now; you cannot put them into a training program to drive a truck, say, because you have to get them off the alcohol. They may not have the education. So we have to have the access to resources: we have to start to build ourselves there, and we should have as an object the gradual elimination of the welfare: and that can be done in one way or the other. If that came in as block funding, I do not know what that would do-if you said no welfare.
Mr. Schellenberger: You again said that you worry about Ottawa-established agencies which will direct funds in certain directions. We can suggest the establishment of some new agencies that are separate from DIA or take over from the DIA and not accomplish or solve anything. How do you see policy or suggestions coming from this committee that will bring the suggestions from the community to Ottawa? How do we transform to what is completely different from what is happening now?
Mr. Sterritt: If you were to remove the legislation that prevents us from selling .fish up the river, that would be a beginning. If you made that recommendation…
Mr. Schellenberger: Are: you saying to me, then, that the accomplishment of this task is to go to each reserve and ask for the suggestions that could, allow this to happen; that they are different in each area and that Ottawa cannot establish a central agency to do that type of thing?
Mr. Sterritt: I think you really have to examine the wrongs of the past.
This Fort Babine band is interesting. They phoned me a week ago, Monday night, and they said, we want to know how we can form our own band. I said, why? They said, well, the majority of our people have moved to Burns Lake and they are in the DIA system and they are on welfare. They said, we sell fish. They are allowed to take fish, the excess that get to Babine Lake from here, and sell them. They have, over the last five years, earned over a quarter of a million dollars for their little band. That money went to the band in Burns Lake and they had to fight to get it back. It was their own economic activity, but they had to fight to get it back. It would be a mistake for them to get into the DIA system. They said, we would like you to come over and talk to us. I said, okay, I will try to set it up. They said, we will pay you; we have a little bulldozer operation and we have $7,000 in the bank and we can pay you. I said, I do not want the money; I do not need it; the tribal council does not need it; I will just come.
What I am telling you is that band has a message for you people. They can tell you things. And there are little bands like that around-the Kitsumkalum Band: those people can tell you something.
The resource base of Kitimat was taken away by Alcan. That was the real message in what they said yesterday. They no longer had access to their resources right there. They did not have any way to develop on that because of the imposition of this major industry.
Mr. Schellenberger: The legislation that prevents you from doing that is federal legislation?
Mr. Sterritt: Yes.
Mr. Schellenberger: Okay. My last question, then, has to focus on land claims. If I understand correctly, you have put in a claim for everything inside the dark boundary~ the coloured area.
Mr. Sterritt: That is right.
Mr. Schellenberger: I guess the fear is that the society I belong to is a material society. It worries that the land is gone forever from its use. When they see a block on the map like that, they become very frightened. I agree entirely with what you said, in that you have to get out and start selling your message. The other message is sold in the papers and by people constantly. We found that out in the Ontario fishing agreement, when the other side was not sold and people became very worried that they would never be able to fish on a lake again because the Indian people would have total control of it. I guess if there is a moderating area that you can deal with, that is the area that may foster land claims much quicker, and there is a way to share the land whereby you still have certain controls over that which is necessary. So I commend you on that. I hope that message starts getting out, and perhaps that will foster land claims much more quickly than anything else.
Mr. Sterritt: Yes. We have a dilemma in that area, and the dilemma is that we are too few people with too many fronts. We have the Constitution; we have this; we have land claims; we have unemployment in our community. The mills are all shut down, and we have a hard time doing all the things that are demanded of us. But we are trying. One of the things we try to do is to go to rod and gun clubs and speak to them. They will shoot at us, throw arrows at us, but that is all right; there are some people who hear us. Also, it really sharpens us on the questions we have to answer if we want to get anywhere. It is really valuable for us to go into that forum and do that.
Mr. Schellenberger: Are you doing any of that with the British Columbia government? They will have a tremendous impact on the ultimate land claim settlement.
Mr. Sterritt: We have different ways of trying to do that with the British Columbia government. We have started some of that. Getting access to people is difficult, but we have a number of things we are embarking on there, and have in the past. We have done it with regional districts. We have done it in different situations; yes.
Mr. Schellenberger: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thanks, Stan. Jim Fulton.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to compliment you, Neil, on the presentation you made. I think you took the committee on a very important historical and intellectual journey into what happened. I know all members of the committee are aware that in this century in some areas of the country, for example, with the Beothuk, native people were murdered for bounty. In some areas of Ontario, and in this province as well, native people were intentionally infected with various diseases, and so on. But I think you took us through an important journey, laying out the collage of laws that were brought forward, and whether the government wittingly or unwittingly outlawed the potlatch. I do not doubt for one moment that members of this committee have to keep in mind that there were politicians at that time, in the colonial sense, who understood that was the political and economic and social function: it was the parliament, it was the courts, it was, as you well pointed out, the place where succession was passed on, and so on.
It is important that the committee reflect on what you have said about the hereditary hierarchy and what has now been enforced by the DIAND, where band councils, which operate under the Indian Act and through the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, have come to divorce themselves from the traditional hierarchy, the traditional power base of the councils. I would like you to comment-you touched briefly on
the idea of, just as an example, in one of your charts, simply closing, for example, the Hazelton DIA office and having the tribal council take on that function.
I know that all the committee members are concerned about evidence that was given a couple of days ago, that a political decision is being made now to cut off funding for tribal councils. On Tuesday I asked the minister in the House in Ottawa whether or not that in fact was his intention, and he said no; but in conversations after, I am not convinced that in fact is the case.
I would like you to comment on if in the interim the committee should recommend, for example, that in some of the offices-for example, the Hazelton office-where tribal councils are prepared to take on that function those the DIA staff be replaced by the tribal council and that the funding management for the area be given in a block to there; and then there are questions I would like to move from that into other areas.
Mr. Sterritt: Yes, there is a real dilemma, and it is simply this. Let us say that we set up a law system, Indian law, and all we do is set up courts with Indian people doing the law of Canada. That is not Indian law. Similarly, if we take over the DIA in Hazelton and all we are doing is carrying out the policy that is already there-whether it is native or non-native who are in there, we are carrying out that policy-we really have not done anything. As a matter of fact, we will probably never get to doing the things we want to do because that is so complex. So if we were to take over, it would have to be in the context of that chart I showed you so it was based on our needs and our problems in our communities. It is in a broad sense that we are talking about a resource base and everything else. We are not talking about something that comes purely out of Ottawa.
Now, how you get to that stage I do not know. How do you make that transition? I do not have the answer on that. I am trying to tell you about the problems, and then we can all start working on the solutions. That is what I am trying to do here.
So that is the future, and maybe it is the near future because if we do not start talking about it darn soon, we will never do it. But how that starts to happen I do not know. I do not have the answer on that one, Jim.
Mr. Fulton: I agree with you, Neil. There is a sort of chicken-and-egg problem here, and it is something that I do not want the committee to walk into unwittingly, which is to make some interim recommendations, be it in terms of what I touched on yesterday, which is the idea of sunset legislation … It ·would not have to necessarily be in terms of years, but within the legislation it would say: Here are the powers of self· government that we recommend in the interim until, for example, in the British Columbia context, the Gitksan Carrier have title to an area, to a resource base, have their own forms of taxation and so on. Then the sunset provision would
come in and the Gitksan- Carrier people themselves would decide when to move from the interim self-government into whatever form of self-government they decided in terms of self-determination was the route to pursue.
Mr. Sterritt: Well, Jim, you have to remember that in negotiating our land claim we are actually defining Indian government. We will also be doing that. So I think we have to spend more time at the technical part of that. We have to sit down and talk about that more. How the committee has the wisdom and the genius to make those recommendations- I just do not envy you one bit, but I hope you do.
Mr. Fulton: The question that I think all members of this committee are puzzling with in terms of the B.C. context and the Yukon and Northwest Territories is that it is quite different in that the constitutional process now is such that there will be a settlement of title. It may be slow; it may be fast. We do not know. But certainly, in 40% of Canada, that is going to occur. It is going to be more difficult, I think, 30 or 40 or 50 years from now in terms of the rest of the country, the other 60% of the land base. The questioning process of the constitutional nature of treaties and so on will be requestioned. It is not being questioned seriously in most of that area right now.
What I want to pose to you, though ,is that in the interim between now and-let us say it is 3 years, 5, 10; we do not know … Until the territory that you have been discussing with us this morning, until some part or the whole or whatever of that area is turned over as title constitutionally to the Gitksan Carrier people, what kind of an interim tool of self-government would be in the better interests of the Gitksan-Carrier people so that the rapidly declining 1947-1983 graph starts to come up again, maybe not as fast as it could, but at least starts inclining? What kind of self-government tool would be better than the DIA and band councils?
Mr. Sterritt: If you understand what I am telling you about that leadership triangle … I am telling you that there are problems now. They are not old problems. They are not 100 years old; they are 30 or 40 years old. If we understand what those problems are, one of them is that there is no … We have some really good leaders in the Simgiget in the old people. They have no relationship to what really is happening. We are building that relationship. It is happening and the band councils are starting to see it happen. They are starting to actually be part of it.
So we are trying to force that. What we have to do is try to get all of our best leaders working on problems with the people.
I guess the thing that I did not show you on here is that because we went from a traditional, hereditary system to an elected system, when the DIA introduced laws on the elected system, people from here who may have been clever but not necessarily leaders were allowed to get into those positions, and that is one of the weaknesses of some of the band governments in Canada. It is a real weakness that these people could be side-stepped. That problem has to be dealt with. I think you all know what I am talking about. The opportunists could then come up.
It was not that this was closed. There were people going both ways there, but that has happened.
I do not have the answer for the interim legislation, but let me tell you this: I think you have to build change into what you recommend. An elder told me the other day that we will discover new horizons. In the last five years we have been discovering new horizons that will better the life for our children. We have to be prepared. We must realize that we will discover other new horizons. So I think you have to build change into what you are doing.
The interim measure: It would really help if we could start to do something about our economic base in our area. I am saying that again. It would really help because that will help to stop the decline of what is happening. We have to start moving from there.
I do not know what you can write. I honestly do not know what you can write, but that will help to stop the decline and the breakdown of the family-the nuclear family in the villages now, not the extended.
Mr. Fulton: I would like to go back to what I have sort of been describing for the past few witnesses as the Peckford model. Thinking for a moment again about the territory here in this interim period where the substance of your claim has been accepted but there has been no negotiation. We are talking about a number of megaprojects, the Kemano completion being one, that will directly affect your territory and resource base. I share your fear and the fear of the other witnesses that if we knock out the DIA, Hazelton, the DIA region, the DIA, Vancouver, the DIA Ottawa, and you deal directly with Treasury Board, there is a latent paranoia among-! do not I think unfairly describe it as the right-wing element in Canadian society, who are fearful of the land claim process in that in the backs of their minds they see native people suddenly becoming like the sheiks of Kuwait or something and running around owning all the forests and all the mines and all of British Columbia and so on. That has to be dealt with, and I think a very forceful and good job is being done by native spokespeople here in British Columbia to allay those fears. But in terms of the interim period again since negotiations are going to occur, and let us say that the area where the Kemano completion project was going to occur was not part of the actual title settlement, and I am asking you this question without prejudice to any …
Mr. Sterritt: Sure.
Mr. Fulton:–negotiations that you might be involved in … If it was outside of it, have you put your mind to the possibility of that territory continuing to be, and if the federal and provincial governments say no, here are some areas you cannot have and I think this will be true for the Nishga, it will be true for the Haidas, it will be true for the Tsimshian, it will be true for all groups, that the whole claim will not be accepted. Bits
and pieces-as we have seen in the Yukon, about 3% of the land base is now under active and final negotiation. But have you put your mind to the idea of having taxation of resource extraction and resource development in the traditional territory outside of what may ultimately become title?
Mr. Sterritt: Yes, that is not a prejudicial question and I do not fear it. First and foremost, that is our territory. Now, what we end up negotiating when we sit down with the government is very difficult to say. We know what the government wants: they want the Alaska model and the James Bay model. I think that black line there that goes around that can be the basis for a future relationship with the Government of Canada and that there will be arrangements that we can make with industry that wants to come in. Right now the whole relationship is between government and industry. We have to be included in that relationship, and there can be taxation, there can be royalties, there can be whatever that go from those industries to us, to B.C. and to Canada.
Mr. Fulton: Okay. That brings me to the question that I sort of began this circuitous route with. I think we have gone through getting rid of the Hazelton DIA office and realized that all that would do is put new faces on an old and unsuccessful system. Dealing directly with Treasury Board, I think, for many bands would mean that Treasury Board would create a new bureaucracy, very likely from those people who were displaced within the DIA. They would move from the DIA to Treasury Board and you would find the same faces, or perhaps more there.
It seems to me that there is another option here that the committee could consider, and it reflects again on the figures that James Gosnell introduced in evidence last night, where per capita in 1978 it was $139 per native person; in Quebec it was $999, and then the comparison, of course, is that to native people on average, I understand, last year was $600 whereas per capita across Canada was $1,500. But there is an illusion out there in the general public both the Kuwaiti symbols in their minds and also that there is all this money and all these goods and so on being given to native people, and it is because there is so little good information in the media and so little good information being put out to the public. It seems to me that the committee has a unique opportunity, at least in the B. C. context, of recommending that the substance of defined areas-for the Haida, the Queen Charlottes; for the Gitksan Carrier, what is there; for the Nishga, what they are negotiating now-and that what is occurring in terms of resource developments in those areas go into some kind of an interim heritage fund and that funds that are occurring … Particularly because this is where there is a megaproject, it would mean that the megaproject mentality would change somewhat
and that native people would be getting some direct and immediate tax benefits.
I wonder if you could comment on that as perhaps being a better interim recommendation in terms of British Columbia because I do not think we need, as other witnesses have said, to be tied to one option. I do not think we need to make just one recommendation that there be hereditary self-government and so on.
Mr. Sterritt: I really do not think there is anything to say. Those are almost the words I would have used. I agree with that, but that is something that we … Someone asked me about three years ago to throw out a model of what can happen in our territory.
I do not know whether any of you are aware of what happened in the Shetland Islands with the oil development in the North Sea. They came up with a very interesting model; and if you have not looked at it, you should.
That model has a lot of elements-and they are the kinds of things you are talking about, Jim-to which we could relate very well, and it means the accountability is on the company. The people who are affected enforce the accountability; and that is enforced through taxation, through royalties, through a compensation fund if damages are done. It is based not on what they can get out of the industry but what they will need when the industry dies in 20 or 30 years.
Those are the kinds of things we need, and that creates accountability in Canada. You do not get it from Ottawa; you do not get from Victoria; you get it where the people are affected.
We would like that responsibility. We are not afraid of that; we do not fear it. That is what the Nishga want. They are not afraid of it; they can handle it. They have done it.
I think companies have nothing to fear. I do not think they have a thing to fear. I think they have to start thinking longer than the life of the resource they are looking at.
That is what is wrong with Canada right now, with the economy the way it is. You cannot go on. North America was a wonderful country. People from Europe came and they had untold frontiers of resources. They could go and just mine and exploit the local people. The resources were exploited and so were the local people, Indian and white; and you cannot do that. You have to leave something in that community.
I do not want to use a catch phrase, but there is nothing wrong with these territories defining that, not a thing. We have to talk to companies. We have done it. We have talked to Bill Rich of Alcan; but we have also held back, because he was not talking in good faith. We have gone away from the table. Hydro wants to talk to us right now. We will go in and talk to
them; but also, we want something from them. We want a commitment; and they will not give it because they say that B.C. has control over that, not you. Ottawa has control over that, not you. We will say, we want this commitment and then we will talk. They will not give it. Well, maybe they are right.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Clem, do you have a question?
Mr. Clem Chartier (Native Council of Canada, Liaison Member of the Committee): Yes. President Sterritt, I would just like to mention, first of all, that I had the honour last June to be invited to the Hesquiaht general assembly or annual meeting. Besides being such a viable and needed enterprise or program of your tribal council, what struck one was the fact that on the Hesquiaht board, by tribal council directive or undertaking, there is the accommodation of representation of two non-status Indians.
For the purpose of the committee, could you explain the relationship of the non-status Indian peoples in your nation?
Mr. Muldoe: The clarification of non-status is non-existent in our area, just because the laws of the land and rights were denied native people originally. That did not define that there was another race. There are only two races in Canada: the Indian race and the white race. Mind you, there are lots of ethnic groups, but there is no such thing as non-status.
Mr. Sterritt: Okay. I guess the other thing is we do have a societies act. We needed that to borrow money from Canada to work on our land claim, and we borrowed it. But when we came up with our constitution, we defined the membership of our people not as status or non-status but as resident and non-resident. A status person living in Vancouver is non-resident. He is a non-resident Gitksan or Carrier. A status person living in Smithers is a non-resident Gitksan or Carrier. A non-status living in Kispiox is a resident Gitksan or Carrier.
This tribal council board is made up of chief councillors and two representatives of the non-resident areas, one from Hazelton and one from Smithers. The board has seen fit to elect a president who is non-status: that is, myself. I am non-status. That is how our policy is carried out in our area. We have had two resident or status people as presidents; and for now, 1 am in my term last year and this year. I am a non-resident or what you call non-status.
When we talk about no distinction, we mean it. When you sit at the feast, for example, my father is also that; but his name is Wu Gank-that is up in the right-hand corner-and
he owns that territory. He is the head chief; and yet, he is off the Indian Act.
Mr. Chartier: Okay, thank you.
I would just like to mention that, certainly to my mind, your presentation does not need any further clarification. It was very well presented.
Mr. Sterritt: Thank you.
The Chairman: Sandra, did you have a question?
Ms Isaac: I have one question. Could you elaborate more on the role of the women in the traditional system and perhaps why it differs today, if it does, according to your diagram?
Mr. Sterritt: Kiloget is a hereditary chief with all the land of Maabeek. All Spookw, Ma’os, Gan Lakyeltqu those people up in that area are under Kiloget. Kiloget is a matriarch; she is a lady. Wügyat is a hereditary chief. She sits right opposite Kenny’s father. I sit at the same table right beside her. She is a hereditary chief. Wooss is a lady with all the powers of the hereditary chief.
They make the system work. They are 50% of our people. We cannot afford not to use that resource, not to have them guide us and tell us what to do, when they can assume a leadership role. Our vice-president last year was a lady, and there will be presidents and vice-presidents in the future who will be Gitksan or Carrier ladies. That is the role in our society and it always has been.
Ms Isaac: Thank you very much.
Mr. Sterritt: You are welcome.
The Chairman: Jim Manly.
Mr. Manly: Mr. Chairman, one of the stated objectives of the Department of Indian Affairs and one Indian people generally agree with is summed up with the idea of Indian control of Indian education, and there have been lots of problems with that. But in the Hazelton area, I understand there is, at present, an experiment in native Indian teacher training on site. I wonder if you could give some comments on that and on some of the possibilities you see in that, if there have been any problems related to it and just a general overview of that project.
Mr. Sterritt: Some of the members of our tribal council, some of the ladies, decided they would like to go to university. They brought the idea to the tribal council and said what they would like to do. They did not stop there; they kept working on it. We are a bureaucracy, too, and you have to be pushed. They kept working on it, and our executive director, Don Ryan, got involved.
They went to the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia and Northwest Community College. They worked on it for over a year and put together a native teacher-
training program. It is actually a certified college program right in our community. Twenty-one people enrolled and 21 people are still involved.
They had a little Valentine’s party the other day, and I sat in with them. One of the ladies was commenting to me that she had worked as a secretary in a dental office for years and she has never done anything as exciting as she is doing.
It is going very well. It certainly has problems, because discipline and routine is needed. It is intended to be a college program-we want it to qualify at that level-so they have to work hard. The families are jumping in and helping; they are supporting them. The community is; the tribal council is trying to help in every way it can.
It is an interesting experiment. There is a lot more we have to do, and we would like to take a lot of the research we have done on land claims and turn it into educational programs in the school. As I said, we are operating on too many fronts right now, and somehow, we have to narrow it down. But I hope these teachers will be able to make use of the research we have done to get it into the schools and teach in our communities.
They are also getting political training, too; and they have to. You have to have a political ideal if you want to develop the people, and they are getting that as well.
Mr. Manly: Thank you very much.
I think the significant things in what you said were that the initial idea did not come from Ottawa or Vancouver, but it came from the local people. From what you said, the whole program seems to be very well integrated with the traditional structures of your peoples.
You talked about the relationship between bureaucrats and chiefs, and how some bureaucrats or Indian Affairs officials simply follow a very narrow line. There have also been some Indian Affairs people who tried to recognize the basic need of Indian people to run their own lives, and I understand that these people sometimes have run into problems in their own department. I wonder if there are any instances that you know of in your area that you would like to share with the committee.
Mr. Sterritt: What I would like to give you is an example. The district manager in Hazleton is a Gitksan. We bring him into meetings with us quite often and we have good communication, a good dialogue. But in order for him to do his job properly, he must carry out the policy of the DIA. None of us criticize him for that. He has to do his job. He also under-
stands where we are going but that somehow we have to create that relationship. So it is a good working relationship. Some bands have problems with it, but what is good about this man is that he knows his limits, and he stops there. Sometimes people have maybe worked a little too much from the heart and, eventually, that catches up to everyone. They try too hard. But it will never be right until it is actually carrying out the real needs of the community. It will never be right until then. He knows it and we know it.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is a prime example, where in 1977 our people were raided. Just like what happened in Vancouver recently. We decided to take those cases on. You know, it was the first time anyone pleaded “not guilty” from our area on those fisheries. We fought for a year and we won them. I think I wrote a lot of letters to Warren Allmand at the time, telling him that we should not be in court; we should be around the table talking about the problem. We found, just to make your point, that there were a lot of people, like the conservation officers, who were doing their job well and a little too well; there were some people in the Department of Fisheries who understood what we were saying and were prepared to start working on it. I do not mean to say that there are not people in the bureaucracy who do not understand and are not trying to do things. There are some good people in Fisheries and good people in the DIA and we try to work with them; that is where the education process really starts because then they will bring in their staff and we can go and give a presentation like we have done today, and we have done that. We have done it with Shinner in Vancouver.
Mr. Manly: But, the basic process is wrong, so no matter how well intentioned somebody is when they are working within that kind of structure, it is not a helpful process.
I have just one final question. I would like specific comments on the Pearse Commission’s recommendations regarding the traditional Indian fishery, where a negotiated quota would be reached with Indian bands and bands would have the right to determine how that quota would be used. Now, I know that this goes some distance in the direction in which you were speaking earlier. Do you have any concerns about that recommendation?
Mr. Sterritt: It cannot be a quota fixed in time. The runs will increase, and they will decrease. Our needs will increase and they will decrease. What we really need is responsibility for the fish again. We were responsible for thousands of years. As a matter of fact, when the Europeans arrived, the runs were
the size they were because we were here and not in spite of us. I say that because every creek and every river had someone who worked it. And out on the trapline, they could not pack their food in the hunting grounds; they had to depend on their food being there. So they opened those creeks. If a log fell across it, or a beaver dam or something prevented the fish from getting up there, they opened those. They had a responsibility, a management responsibility, for those fish. SEP wants to return the runs to the historic levels of about 1900. We brought them to those levels. If we had not been here, they would have been lower. So we had a responsibility; we had an authority. We need that again.
In terms of the SEP recommendation, he has some good ideas, but I think simply to reduce the size of the fleet and to maintain the over-harvesting at the coast is not going to solve the problem. The place where you can deal with the fish best is where you can count them. You see, if you go and catch a run here on the coast, you can be wiping out a small stream, and it takes every one of those little arteries to maintain the big run. If you catch the fish where they go up their particular creek, you can take so many and release so many; you can release what is needed. You can do it by a method that does not harm those you release. Those were the methods we used in the 1900s. We tried them this summer in a place called Moricetown. We tried our own methods. We had people catching fish, packing them up the falls and releasing them-thus exercising our responsibility for the fish. It works. And we used our old methods; we made the baskets out of steel, but they worked. So a quota fixed in time is no good. A fixed quota is no good. It must be a percentage, and it should be based on … you know, possibly it will have to be changed from time to time. But this thing on the coast will destroy the run. The fishery on the coast will destroy the run-amongst all the other influences: the Alcans, the logging; all those things which are happening.
Mr. Manly: Is the implication of what you are saying that the coastal fishery should be phased out in terms of a commercial fishery? Is that what you say?
Mr. Sterritt: No, you will never do it. I am afraid you will never get rid of the commercial fishery on the coast. What you will have to do, somehow, is to get a balance. Stop talking about your financial needs and start talking about what the resource needs.
Mr. Manly: Could you suggest some mechanism for the integration of the Gitksan-Carrier peoples’ management of the
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was at this stage, and challenged this committee. Certainly, we do have quite a challenge to come up with something which can operate in the interim. Could you tell me if your brief was referring to the proposed Indian band government legislation that was recently supported by Mr. Munro, and what you think of that, if so? I would appreciate any comments you may have in that area because I was a little confused with the reference to it in your brief.
Mr. Derrick: When we wrote the brief we were under the possibly mistaken assumption that an Indian government bill had been written by Mr. Munro and that it was going to be implemented. We also understood that it was this committee’s mandate to somehow address that. Our assumption was that there was going to be an Indian government bill. I have never seen Mr. Munro’s government bill. I did ask for it about five days ago when I heard that it might be available. I have not seen it. We are opposed to an Indian government bill as such. If we can assume that it does what has already been done in the past, and only further confirms or defines what we already have, it is no good to us, and so we disagree with it.
Ms: Jamieson: Thank you. Just for the record, Mr. Chairman, I will say that this committee has not seen a copy of an Indian government bill either. We do know of Mr. Munro’s proposed Indian band government legislation. There may be a bill drafted somewhere, but it has not been made available to this committee. This committee has taken a very broad view of its terms of reference-maybe I should not speak for all, so I will speak for myself as part of this committee-and I think is willing to go well beyond that contemplated in the Indian band government legislation. I do not think we need a committee to spend all this time if we are merely going to rubber-stamp something like that. If such a bill exists, we have not seen it either, and in my view our job is to go well beyond that. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Roberta. Warren.
Mr. Allmand: I will be brief, Mr. Chairman.
Neil, in your remarks you indicated that you felt that the tribal council was closer to your traditional government than the band council which you say was imposed by the Indian Act and really is an administrative arm of the department. So I can be absolutely clear, with respect to the funding problems of the tribal councils-Jim Fulton referred to that-it seems that they may be cut off funding, with maybe the suggestion that the bands if they wish can fund the tribal council from the moneys they have, are you opposed to that? Would you like this committee and other members of Parliament to support
continued funding for tribal councils as a very important form of Indian government that is closer to tradition?
Mr. Sterritt: I would in no way want to threaten any money that goes to a band council, and if for some reason the money that has been coming to tribal councils has been coming from band councils and is now returning to that, so be it. They do not have anywhere near the money they need to do their job in the band councils; they just do not, and I would not want to come in and say that we need this or that. We cannot do it.
If the bands can be funded adequately, and there is money for tribal councils, that would be great. We will still go on somehow, at a much lesser pace, but if we can start to talk about an economic base, something where the people will feed into it, it will work.
Maybe I might have given a wrong impression about the Simgiget and the tribal council. The hereditary chiefs, you could say, are blessing the tribal council. They see it as their vehicle to work on this issue. Over the last eight years it has been at times a direct struggle between the band councils and the hereditary chiefs, but as the band councils started to understand what was happening there was a lessening of that tension, a more co-operative working relationship between the high chiefs and the band councils. The tribal council really is an arm of the band councils, by definition, but through our activities and our policies we are working on behalf of the high chiefs and trying to work also for the band councils. It is a dilemma.
Mr. Allmand: If I understand your answer, if it is a choice of taking money from the band council and giving it to the tribal council, you would not support that.
Mr. Sterritt: No.
Mr. Allmand: But if it is possible to increase funding to the band councils and also fund the tribal councils, you think both are important and deserve attention.
Mr. Sterritt: I think the tribal councils in British Columbia play a very important co-ordinating role and are becoming an important political development in B. C.
The other thing about the financing is that if there was an economic base in our area, and if we could somehow tighten that relationship between the bands and them, I think, through our feast system, we would start paying taxes that would go into supporting the tribal council, and perhaps band councils. I would put money into the feast that would go both to pay the expenses of the feast … There are many different types of
feasts, but let us say it was one to do something about education. I would put money in that would go towards paying the expenses of that feast and would also go towards education. Our scholarship–at our annual convention every year we have a feast, and the money that comes in, $2,000 or $3,000 at a time, is for education. I can see that kind of thing growing. You have to allow that to grow, where the people start to exercise their own responsibility again for the things they want. I can see a building there, but it is not happening yet, totally. We are working on it.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Are there any further questions?
I want to thank the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council for their appearance today. It has been a worthwhile session.
By the way, Mr. Oberle, one of our members, asked me to extend his apologies to you. He had another pressing commitment and had to leave early. He regretted that very much, but he wanted me to make that statement on his behalf.
It has become clear from what you have said that in your minds what is of the greatest importance is the Constitutional process and what will eventually emerge from that-hopefully positive, acceptable-and secondly, the land claims process. I concur heartily. I think those two processes are by far more important than what we are doing. However, I think we should be part of it.
Warren Allmand said it well yesterday when he talked about the legislative arm, the legislative branch, of the governmental system of Canada not being kept out of it. We want to be part of it. There is a certain momentum now, and I think it is important that the legislators be part of that, as well as the administration. Hopefully all of these linkages will produce some results. We want to educate our colleagues in the House of Commons; we want to do what we can to make the Canadian people aware of what is involved here, and perhaps reduce some of their fears and their misunderstandings, if we can do that. I think that is part of our task. So you have been helpful to us.
I only regret very much that we could not visit your area. That would have been a most interesting and worthwhile endeavour. We hear this everywhere we go. We have to choose someplace to meet. We have to ask tribal councils and bands to come to some central point, because the simple fact of the matter is that we just do not have enough time to go everywhere and talk to everyone. So we have to be selective, and when you are selective it creates some difficulties, and sometimes it creates a little bit of bad feeling.
However, you have helped us immensely by describing your area, talking about the traditions and bringing us into the
present, and for that we are grateful. I certainly wish you well, on behalf of the special committee, in your land claims. I can understand, from what you said today, that nothing can really be more important than that and we hope that is successfully completed in the foreseeable future. Thank you for appearing.
Mr. Sterritt: Thank you. I would like to say that it is not either/or; it is not either the Constitution or land claims or this group. I think this is also an important group and I think that you cannot put them up and down. I really appreciate this opportunity, and on behalf of our tribal council, on behalf of those who are not here, Kenny, Elmer and I want to thank you for this opportunity to go into a frank discussion about some of these areas. I really wish you well. If there is an opportunity in the future, if you want to go into detail on other areas, we would be happy to. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Sterritt.
Mr. Fulton: Mr. Chairman, a brief point of order. It is with respect to one of the points touched on. by both Mr. Allmand and Mr. Sterritt. One of the witnesses who appeared yesterday provided me with two copies of the “Funding for Tribal Councils in British Columbia-an Interim Policy” from Indian and Northern Affairs, December 1982. I think it would be instructive that it be tabled as material evidence for this committee so that both we and those who write to the committee can get access to it.
The Chairman: Okay. You want that filed as an exhibit. Is that correct?
Mr. Fulton: Yes.
The Chairman: Is that agreed?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Chairman: Members of the committee, we will hear next from_ the Haida Nation. I am going to call on the Grand Chief of the Council of the Haida Nation, Mr. Percy Williams, to introduce those who are with him and then to indicate how he wishes to proceed and, after the brief has been read, whether we could put some questions to him on the content of the submission. Chief Williams, please.
Mr. Percy Williams (Grand Chief, Council of the Haida Nation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I would like
to thank the Tsimshian Nation for allowing us to take part in these proceedings on their land. I would like to thank the committee for giving us this opportunity to be present.
I would like to introduce the members of our delegation: first the Executive Chief of the Haida Nation, Mr. Miles Richardson. One of our hereditary chiefs is present with us today, also a member of the Skidegate Band Council. He has been a chief councillor in Skidegate on two occasions. I would like to introduce the Hereditary Chief from Skidegate, Clarence Collinson.
Also with us today are the chief councillors of the two villages we represent: first Mr. Cecil Brown, from Massett; and I would like to introduce the Chief Counsellor from Skidegate-1 like to refer to him as our elder statesman-Mr. Torn Greene. A board member present with us today is Mr. Ernie Collison. Mr. Frank Collison is here. We also have with us Ms Andrea Dickson, Band Manager from Massett. I must also mention that Miles Richardson is a band manager from Skidegate.
I would like to go a little into our involvement as a Haida Nation, or why I feel our presence here today is necessary. At the current time we are not involved with any type of administration with the DIA. When we had the elections for our Haida Nation we were concerned that groups or organizations that were formed in our province for the purpose of land claims were too heavily overburdened with DIA administration, so we did not want to get into this type of situation. So the mandate of the Council of the Haida Nations is strictly land claims negotiations.
But I would like to say why I feel our presence today is necessary. We are looking at the eventual administration or government of the Haida Nation. This is why we are present here today. We are having many problems with different arms of government-to be specific, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Forestry, with the British Columbia government- and we feel we probably could administer these resources better than they are being administered today.
You have the maps of our Queen Charlotte Islands, “Haida Gwaai”, or Gwaai Haida as we call them, or Gwaaihonus— two different names we use for our Queen Charlotte Islands. We call them “the Land of the Haida”, or “Beautiful Islands”.
I watched with a great deal of interest this morning the presentation by Mr. Sterritt. Basically we are in the same category. The boundaries of our Haida Nation-we do not even have to try to define them. As you can see from the map, we are an island out in the Pacific, and this has been Haida territory for thousands of years.
We had a hereditary system of government in the past, where the different hereditary chiefs controlled different parts of our islands. This has been explained in very good detail by Mr. Sterritt this morning, so I will not go into that. We had the same system, where hereditary chiefs were in total control of the territory.
We have been given a mandate by these hereditary chiefs. I am very proud to say that at our inaugural ceremonies all the hereditary chiefs were present, and they gave us the responsibility of negotiating for these lands on their behalf.
I have been very brief, but I think we have made the points clear. Now I would like to call on our band manager from Massett to read our brief. Andrea Dickson, please.
Ms Andrea Dickson (Band Manager, Massett Band Council): I would first of all like to ask Frank Collison if he would explain the design on the front cover of our submission.
Mr. Frank Collison (Councillor, Massett Band Council): You may notice that on the front cover of our submission there is a stylized form of two phratries, the eagle and raven, which represent the two main tribes of the Haida Nation on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The top figure you see there is the eagle; the bottom figure is the raven. These are the main clans of the islands.
You will also notice that it is designed in the style that follows the pattern of the islands. If you look at it in relation to the map, it is on the same pattern as the Queen Charlotte Islands. If you would turn it to the side, you would notice that in the eye of the raven there is the Haida canoe which represents the linkage that the Haida Nation had with the sea, how we were always dependent on the sea for our survival and how we related to other nations across the coast in our trading and our bartering system then, and also for the many things that we did in the social areas.
That is just a brief explanation of our affinity with the cultural aspects of the islands and of how we have survived for thousands of years as people of the sea. Thank you.
Ms Dickson: Thank you. I will just start off by reading.
In the broadest sense, survival as the Haida Nation forms our philosophical base. The legal and moral issues of our sovereignty and aboriginal title and rights have not been addressed by Canada and British Columbia. This indicates to us a breakdown in legal and moral responsibilities in the face of international law, which recognizes certain rights of a people respecting politics, non-discrimination and enjoyment of culture. These items are affirmed by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, Canada-with the exception of British Columbia, the Territories and other provinces-the U.S.A. and other newly founded countries in the world community have attained agreements and carry legislation based on recognition of aboriginal title and specific rights unique to aboriginal inhabitants.
Our nation has existed since the time of man. We have survived a mere 200 years of physical invasion by people of Europe, have adapted to physical sciences and practical medicine and have accepted Christianity and economics and
thus formed a contemporary society by consolidating aspects of two worlds on the backbone of our resources of strong tradition and inheritance.
As Haida contemporaries, we reaffirm statements made to Indian land commissioners at the turn of the century relating to our sovereignty and nationhood, and quote the following exerpt from a presentation made to Indian land commissioners by a chief of the Haida Nation-Exhibit D2, received September 9, 1913 by Queen Charlotte Islands agency:
The white man came here and were welcomed. We accepted your flag, and we also accepted your religion and Government. At that time, there was no question of our rights to the Land. We owned it all, by the power of our might as a Nation.
So it is, today, that we are a nation who has never surrendered title or right to our ancestral territory to any government or individual representing any country in the world, and we have never been conquered by war by any race. The land and seas still belong to us. It is our responsibility to ensure that our heritage is protected and passed on to our future generations and to deal with all elements which may effect our nationhood.
Pre-contact: Along with other aboriginal nations of the Americas, Haidas had developed a civilization complete with government, economics, law, belief and social provisions, all of which co-existed with the natural order of physical environment based on respect and honour, For thousands of years, the land and sea provided an abundance and permitted ample time for continuity and development of each factor of civilization. The Queen Charlotte Islands were populated with an estimated 18,000 Haidas in villages scattered all around the islands ruled by hereditary leaders. The Queen Charlotte Islands were the sole domain of the Haida Nation and defended by war against intrusion by the other Indian nations.
Trade and barter was conducted with Indian nations along the coastline and in major inland river courses from Alaska to California.
The Potlatch system dictated terms of social and economic value. This system identified tangible and intangible items and symbols and maintained stability in very formal terms before many invited witnesses.
Contact: The ultimate quest of Euro-Asian venturers was based on accumulation for profit, as opposed to Haida economics of equal trade and accumulation for distribution. Eventually, Haidas became subjects of alien systems with the encroachment of more Europeans. As is true in all cases of colonization, Haidas were exploited, along with our resources, and many facets of our systems were either destroyed or cast aside. Components of European civilization were superimposed on the Haida Nation without war or agreement on the concept that Haidas, like other tribes, were uncivilized pagans and were standing in the way of development.
The scattered villages were decimated by a series of epidemics and, as a result of the epidemics and varied circumstances, Haida people were forced to converge in the communities of Hydaburg, Alaska, Skidegate and Massett.
The latter communities became the principal villages on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and as such witnessed the many changes resulting from the imposition of statutes of Canada and British Columbia which did not regard, nor attempt to accommodate, the participation of the Haida Nation.
Current: The villages of Skidegate and Massett are populated with approximately 1,000 people. A significant population of Haidas live away from these communities, predominantly for economic reasons and also due to the residual effects of the Indian Act definition of “Indian” and previous discriminatory devices related to Indian policy.
As a result of the Indian land commissioners of Canada, 1913, the Haida Nation was allotted a total of 37 Indian reserves which contained 3,900 acres of land. The outlying reserves are used for a variety of reasons by members of the Haida Nation, centred mainly on maintaining tradition. Administration of all of our reserves is conducted by the two band councils under the authority of the Indian Act and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development policy.
The situation of Haida aboriginal title and rights to the Queen Charlotte Islands is being addressed by the council of the Haida Nation which is comprised of a democratically elected executive and board of directors representing all persons of Haida ancestry, to which the two band councils lend support. The council of the Haida Nation mandate extends to research and preparation for negotiating our claim; designing mechanisms conducive to our ultimate authority and responsibility as a nation; and facilitating interaction with governments and other entities whose interests we may engage for purposes of our claim.
Our political involvement ranges broadly in our affiliations with various Indian organizations, where we participate in matters of broad concern which address Indian policy and various developments.
Our position respecting Canada’s first peoples in the recently patriated Constitution continues to be the entrenchment of aboriginal title, with the definition of certain aboriginal rights as our responsibility as Haidas in our situation; and that the consent of aboriginal nations be required for any amendments to the Constitution related to aboriginal peoples.
We endorse the section pertaining to definition of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, as it deals with the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act and illustrates Canada’s historical policy toward aboriginal peoples. We make note that the definition of membership of the Haida Nation is our responsibility.
A specific aboriginal right we illustrate is in the form of Haida government. We are an ancient people and inherit a tradition of great integrity. We put forth that our interests in Haida government lie in the protection and development of our people and nationhood. This interest also extends to developing an economic relationship with the rest of Canada and all societies and nations.
Our government will encompass statutory authority of our nation.
Terms of Haida government will dictate membership, law and economics and social provisions. Other terms will be the free choice of individual members. Governing principles will be based on our traditions, related to strength, economics, responsibility, protection and continuity.
In the meantime, we are interested in maintaining the current ad hoc arrangements with the Department of Indian Affairs and other governmental agencies respecting band and tribal council administration, program funding and legal protection, providing that certain provisions are made to reverse the accountability and responsibility process currently in place, as outlined in our recommendations forthcoming.
We view the administration of Indians by the Indian Act and by the Department of Indian Affairs as inadequate and insufficient, and also very frustrating and cumbersome. Although there may be references to projects which attempt to facilitate developments, the process has not served our purposes. Our many attempts as band and tribal councils to enter into viable developments are averted by time delays, unrealistic prerequisites, studies upon studies, misdirected accountability, photocopying, etc., perpetrated by civil servants who vary from incompetent to pompous and who work behind antiquated circulars and rubber stamps.
The Department of Indian Affairs budget is severely eroded by the massive bureaucracy, and what we receive as Haidas is hardly salvageable to deal with Our socio-economic conditions and political aspirations.
Many of our people cannot be included in our services and activities due to the racial restrictions of the Indian Act, and have come to be known as non-status Indians. As such, band lists do not indicate the true number of our Haida people. Based on this, we recommend the following realignment of the Department of Indian Affairs to meet the requirements of
Canada’s contemporary Indian nations as an interim measure to meaningful Indian government.
I. The current structure and responsibilities of the Department of Indian Affairs be replaced by a national board of Indian trustees appointed by a tribal group basis by their own devices and which would include federal representation from the minister responsible for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. This entity would be accountable for the national budget concerning Indians, and will be responsible for distribution and allocation policies based on a formula which will ensure equity in each component of delivery area. Intergovernmental legislation and agreements involving the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will be reviewed and adjusted where necessary. Consultative and research situations will be met on a contractual basis.
2. Regional and district budgets and responsibilities be transferred to a board of B.C. Indian trustees and one Department of Indian Affairs representative. This entity will deliver budgets to band and tribal councils and will review current allocation formulas for alteration where necessary.
3. Districts defined by the B. C. Region of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs be replaced by tribal boundaries identified by the various tribes in British Columbia. Support mechanisms will be maintained for developing bands and tribal councils for a transition period toward independence, and will phase out the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Intergovernmental relationships of Canada and British Columbia will be examined in the light of expediting negotiations of aboriginal claims.
We suggest that the realignment would warrant swifter delivery of the national Department of Indian and Northern Affairs budget and act as a catalyst to developments and aspirations of tribes based now in the form of band and tribal councils under the dictates of the Indian Act and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs policy and who are working to transcend the dependency state created by the Department of Indian Affairs.
In a broader area, we recommend that:
1. Provisions to be made for direct aboriginal representation in the government structure of Canada. We feel that this action will radically change political trust now vested in the Department of Indian Affairs and its employees, and a new mechanism of political trust for Canada’s aboriginal peoples will be
developed and implemented by Indian nations with a clear and protective legal interpretation.
2. The principles and purposes of the Indian Act be amended by general consensus of Canada’s aboriginal peoples for purposes of escalation of a statute respecting aboriginals to that of international convention.
3. The native claims policy of Canada be amended for purposes of expediting the review process of claims based on unextinguished aboriginal title. We conceive that the reestablishment of Indian government will be based on the principles of aboriginal nations and separate from federal provincial administration, as we have been and continue to be a separate nation.
Our perception of Canada’s historical policy regarding her aboriginal peoples is consistent with the situation in the other Americas, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific equatorial islands and any country where original inhabitants have been exploited and abused in derogatory mannerisms by historical or contemporary fuedalistic and pseudodemocratic administrations. In some countries termination of a people is genocidal, while Canada and the U.S.A. employ the more subtle technique of assimilation.
Our quest must involve the recognition of Canada’s· well intentioned but supremely unjust treatment of her aboriginal peoples. This fact will allow Canada to redeem herself as a little sister to South Africa and to step into the fore as a nation who meets her aboriginal peoples in the profound reality of human dignity.
Our people have survived repression of our political and developmental interests for many years and state to you that colonialism and paternalism will become mere footnotes in our ongoing history as a nation.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you for the presentation of that brief. Are there any further comments you wish to make to the committee?
Grand Chief Williams: As I said earlier, we make our presentation as such, a brief, so if there are any questions, we would like to proceed.
The Vice-Chairman: Very good. Clem Chartier.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the Haida Nation, your brief is very powerful and, in my mind, speaks for itself. However, over the past several months and during the past week, the issue of trust has arisen because of the Musqueam case, and that is a difficult area to understand because of the way it has been interpreted in Canadian law and in the minds of some people.
The thrust of your presentation deals with international rights, the rights of a people in the world, and that the Haida
Nation is no different from other peoples who have aspirations for self-determination.
One of the things I have been noticing over the past years, in reading in this area, is that in fact there are smaller nations that have entered into a relationship of protection or protector· ate status with a larger nation. In my mind, when I would see trust within the Canadian context with Indian peoples, that is the sort of thing I thought was the original intention, that in fact it was a political trust which would ensure the protection of the Indian nations as a separate people. I think your brief points that out. Could you maybe talk a little bit more with respect to that aspect to your brief, please?
Mr. F. Collison: I will make a few brief comments, and then I believe Mr. Richardson, from the Council of the Haida Nation, would also like to speak.
From the developments that have happened in these various cases that have come up before the courts, there is really no belief on our part that there is any sort of political trust that we can look to. So we are looking at more of a relationship that is based on mutual concerns, and more, from our point of view, that things have to be determined from our status. We are not looking at something that can be institutionalized by the Government of Canada but at some sort of consultation process that looks more to our side of things than just to the one side of the government’s. I guess the word “trust”, as Neil stated, is really a misnomer, because there is no such thing as political trust that we can see. It has to be addressed in a different manner.
Mr. Miles Richardson, Jr. (Band Manager, Skidegate Band Council): Also I think it is very clearly pointed out in our presentation that the only political trust we feel will apply to us is our political trust for ourselves. We are going to work out our forms of government and how they will interface with the Canadian system, and as we resolve land claims and our aboriginal title to our lands and territories, then these will be defined in detail with Canada. But ultimately any trusts are trusts unto ourselves, as our own people, and those will be defined in our relationship with the Canadian government and system. I think that is pointed out clearly in this paper.
Mr. Chartier: Yes, it is quite clear, but I was just trying to get the dialogue going so people can begin to understand this concept more clearly. Basically what you are saying is that the rights of Indian nations have to have mutual respect both from the Indian nations themselves and from, in this case, the Canadian general public and the Government of Canada. So what you are saying is, we have rights; respect our rights. Whether you call it a trust or not is immaterial, but just respect the rights we have and let us exercise those rights. Is that right?
Mr. Richardson: I think that is the basic issue. The rights we have are ours and the governments cannot give them to us, they cannot take them away; all they can do is respect them and work out mechanisms where we can exercise those rights within the Canadian system. The Haida people have made it very clear ever since contact with the white people that that is
the desire of the Haida people: to work together with the Canadian people. We have to work these systems out.
As this issue of political trust has come up in the last month-since the Musqueam case has come out, it has come to the forefront- I still do not understand what the parliamentarians of Canada interpret their political trust to the Indian people as being. I do not have a clear understanding of that. Maybe this afternoon one of you could clarify that for me. Then we would be able to deal with that question a lot better.
Mr. F. Collison: If I could just make one more comment the concept of trust as the government sounds now is based on the old idea of the ward system, where they were obligated to look after the Indian people. It was of a subjective nature, which was designed to show that the Canadian government was in some way superior to these people. But we do not see it that way. We are the sovereign people of this country. We are the people who own the Queen Charlotte Islands, and if any kind of trust relationship is going to be built up, it has to be built on that basis-that we are on an equal basis, not in a subjective nature. We are a sovereign people and that is the message, I believe, that has come from all the nations across Canada. There is the subjectiveness of the department that has placed the native people in a role that is lesser than the way even a lot of the immigrants are handled who come in to this country.
Mr. Chartier: Thank you. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman:Thank you. Mr. Allmand.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a very brief question on one of the recommendations, the recommendation at the bottom of page 8, that there be direct aboriginal representation in the government structure of Canada.
To be clear about that recommendation, are you suggesting what some other witnesses, from time to time, have suggested: assured seats in Parliament for the Indians and Inuit of Canada, where they would elect their own people to Parliament? And /or in addition to that, assure representation as well on government agencies and Crown corporations that affect your lives, such as fishing boards and transportation bodies and that kind of thing, to make sure that you are at the table and have a say, and a vote, and so on. Would you mind expanding on that particular recommendation so that we could better understand.
Mr. Ernie Collison (Board Member, Council of the Haida Nation): Thank you.
We have considered the position of a lot of Indian nations across the country and also considered very common issues with people right across the country, which range anywhere from the very day-to-day things that happen in the villages right on to the situations we find ourselves in with Indian nations which have been cut off by international boundaries.
We definitely have to have some kind of mechanism worked out among ourselves as Indian people across the country, to be fully represented in the government structure of Canada, so that we can meet all these different types of issues and have a formal relationship with Canada.
Mr. Allmand: One other question. I understand that the Haida people participated in the aboriginal claims settlement in Alaska. The Haida people have some of their lands in what is considered to be in Alaska and some in the Queen Charlotte Islands; and some of the people who live in the Queen Charlottes have been beneficiaries of the Alaskan settlement.
I wonder if you would tell us if there is something we can learn, either of the good aspects of the way the Alaska settlement was proceeded with or some of the bad things that should be avoided. We in Canada are trying to solve some of these problems. Perhaps you could tell us some of the things we could learn there and some of the things we could avoid. Are you in a position to discuss that?
Mr. E. Collison: We have had some informal discussion with our families in Hydaburg, Alaska. Our relationship is very intimate and we have members of our own clans. Our system is divided into the Eagle and Raven moieties, and underneath those two moieties we also have clans of the killer whale, thunder birds, and various different types of family clans.
We have relatives up there that belong to the same clans. As far as the Alaska settlement goes, we do not particularly agree with the situation there because it was a settlement that was imposed on the people. It was not a negotiated settlement. It was a settlement that made those people up there corporate people rather than giving them the opportunity to maintain a special status as the first people on this North American continent. So we do not recommend viewing the Alaska situation for our purposes.
Mr. Allmand: Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Allmand. Mr. Fulton.
Mr. Fulton:Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a lot of questions, so if I run on too long, just give me the high sign and I will get on on the second round.
One of the themes that seem to be recurring is that we know the wording that is in the Constitution now is in relation to recognition of existing rights, and there is some concern expressed across the country as to how that really is going to affect title. I agree with you completely with respect to the two points that you raised: that the concept of title, the wording of title, be entrenched in the Constitution and also that a consent clause be included in there for further protection down the road.
There is something that keeps dogging my mind here, that this committee could perhaps find itself involved in a bit of a boondoggle if we were to look and scrutinize too closely what
kinds of powers different native groups across the country are interested in in terms of self-government; federal powers in relation to fisheries and provincial powers in relation to forestry-all-these kinds of things. If we were to spend too much time as a committee itemizing the different kinds of powers and the different kinds of structures that would be most adaptable to different situations across the country, we might be doing, even in the interim, it seems to me, a great disservice to the process of achieving sovereignty and self-determination which will flow from title. I think, in terms of your presentation and the witnesses that we have heard, what really is at issue here is title-through the process of negotiation for title. The Queen Charlotte Islands, I think, as all members here recognize, is certainly the most unique geographical land claim in Canada. You can correct me if I am wrong, because I am not sure that there are any boundary disputes, although in one of my further questions I would like to touch on an aquatic one … But I wonder if you could comment on whether or not it would be appropriate for the committee-again, I think this has been touched on by all of us here on the committee-to make it known to Parliament and to make it known to the minister that the priority really, in terms of Indian self-government, is title; and that through negotiation self-government will fulfil itself.
Grand Chief Williams: I think right at the outset that is what we indicated, that our eventual goal is self-government. On the boundary, as yet we have not had any dispute about the boundaries in the Queen Charlotte Islands. I think that was two of your questions. My colleague might want to elaborate a little bit more.
Mr. Richardson, Jr.: I would like to correct you. The sovereignty of the Haida people is not something that we are negotiating for; it is something that we have had since time immemorial and we still have today.
It is our identity as a collection of people who define ourselves and define where we are going and we have certainly never given that up to anybody and we have that today. It is very important. I think that is true that statement that you made about our aboriginal title to our tribal territories does have to be worked out with appropriate authorities if you will, the Canadian government system -before our form of government, Haida government can really have a meaningful role in the development of our territories and that interfaced with the Canadian system can be defined after a title is dealt with.
Mr. Fulton: To follow up on that, it would seem sensible then that during the process of negotiation for title and what flows from that in terms of fisheries, in terms of coastal occupancy and in terms of harvesting various things from the seas; in terms of forestry production and so on, you would indentify what powers you required as self-government. For example, if a large area that was primarily forest land was turned over during the negotiation, you would recognize that, if you were going to harvest trees, for your self-government you would require the setting up of a government structure
that involved someone who was involved in scaling, someone who was involved in silvaculture-someone who was involved in all those kind of things. This would mean that what this committee should perhaps be considering in terms of the negotiation about title, is what kinds of powers this committee should perhaps be looking at for the federal and provincial governments to put on the table in a more negotiable form. The province of B.C., as an example, could understand that mining surface and subsurface rights should come on to the table; that forest resources are to come on to the table, and thereby the dovetailing of those kinds of responsibilities now. We have fisheries officers; we have people who are involved in forestry and so on. Those jobs and job categories on the Queen Charlotte’s would be taken on by the councils of the Haida Nations government and would be performed by that government as opposed to federal and provincial governments. Would that be a fair statement?
Mr. Richardson, Jr.: Yes, we are certainly going to have to sit down and work out those areas of jurisdiction; but, before we can do that, we have to sit down as equals, and what is necessary before that is for us to work out our aboriginal title to those islands and what our relationship as Haida people is going to be with the Canadian government, the Canadian system.
Mr. Fulton: That brings me to the second question that I have posed before and which has been developed by various witnesses. I note in your presentation the idea of getting away from the kind of Department of Indian Affairs bureaucracy there is with all the paper and documents changing from day to day–one day something is proposed and the next day it is something else-and to have some kind of core funding.
We have gone through this with various witnesses and one of the difficulties that we see is that, even if the regional Department of Indian Affairs administration was removed and the regional one out of Vancouver, and even the one in Ottawa and it was simply a funding relationship between tribal governments, between the Haida people and Ottawa with the Treasury Board for that kind of funding, is that another bureaucracy would simply spring up at that end to screen all kinds of funding proposals that came forward. One that seems to make sense and that, I think, would be relatively easy to apply to the Queen Charlotte situation would be accepting that the whole of the Queen Charlotte Island are sovereign Haida territory, would be a tax regime should be placed in terms of all existing resource developments and proposals and that those tax moneys would go through the council of the Haida nations based on the Peckford model, in that once a certain level of taxation is achieved to bring the average family income to the Canadian average or above, then some of those tax revenues would flow on again to the province and the federal government. I wonder whether that would not be a more sensible approach to take. The council of the Haida nations would then be directly involved in resource management now, not five or three or ten years from now, but now, looking at resource revenues, getting involved in the taxation through the federal and provincial governments and then, on completion of title rights, self-government would arise from that process.
Mr. E. Collison: We have not had the opportunity to review the Peckford philosophy.
Mr. Fulton: It is just what he was saying.
Mr. E. Collison: Okay, but just given that we have unextinguished title, any kind of fiscal arrangements are subject to negotiations.
Grand Chief Williams: I would like to be a little more specific on that.
Indian nations have very often been referred to as fourth world countries. I think we are in a unique position to say that we could be a very strong industrial nation. We have the resources on the Charlotte’s. I am a fisherman and I fish off the west coast of the Queen Charlotte’s and I look with a great deal of concern at the horizon where giant freighter, or whatever you call them, are packing our iron ore off to Japan, and every day we see dozens and dozens of log barges coming to the mainland. As for our fishing, we have probably the best fishing in British Columbia right on our Queen Charlotte Islands. We want a say in how these resources are extracted or taken away. I think Mr. Fulton made a very good point: that a lot of these resources or the taxes of the- resources be left on the Queen Charlotte’s. This is basically what we are looking at when we talk about Haida government. I do not know if I can speak with authority on the tax system. I pay taxes. I pay all the taxes that a white man pays except land taxes and there is provision made for this in British Columbia. There is a subsidy allotted to landowners so, in effect, the Indian person pays the same taxes as everyone else.
We have had meetings with our neighbours-people who have chosen the Queen Charlotte’s as their home-and we look to sharing these resources with these people. I think we are very opposed to the wholesale extraction of our resources by multinational corporations. I think the time has come where we should be looking at managing these resources on more stable grounds so our young people in the future will benefit. The way it is going now, in a few years there will be nothing left on the Queen Charlotte’s.
We are going to be there for thousands of years. We have been there for thousands of years and I am sure the Haidas are going to be there for many thousand of years to come. I think now is the time to start planning for how our people are going to survive on the Queen Charlotte’s. As I have said earlier, we have the resources and we just look to the proper management of these resources so our people will benefit in the future.
At the beginning of my comments I stated that we have differences with the Department of Fisheries and the provincial governments regarding forestry. I must state very clearly that we do not have problems with the personnel involved in these departments on our islands. We have a very good working relationship with the Department of Fisheries, or whatever governmental agencies are on the Queen Charlottes. We are very proud to say that, because we notice that other tribes have direct conflict with local personnel. I think it is
very disturbing to our nation, because we feel that in order to have a good working relationship we have to have good relations with the local people who represent government.
Those are my comments, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Richardson: In terms of your question as to the Haida nation’s involvement in the management of the resources on the Queen Charlotte Islands, I think, as you are very aware, we have taken a very active interest in that. That is certainly one of the things we have wanted to become involved in and we have become involved in. We have made very specific recommendations as to the management of those resources, but we can put them into the various government agencies that are charged with the responsibility of managing them. As Percy pointed out, we have a good working relationship with the representatives of the government on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
But the basic problem always comes up that we have no real basis, within that Canadian system, to assert our jurisdiction over those resources and our management responsibilities. That is where the problem comes in. As far as the taxation of those resources goes, I think that is something also that can be seriously looked at in the interim, until we work out a comprehensive agreement with the Government of Canada on our aboriginal title. It would certainly be more responsive to our needs than being totally accountable to the policies of the Department of Indian Affairs or the Government of Canada if we took a percentage of the revenues that came off our resources and were accountable to our people for those dollars, which is, ultimately, the way it should be.
Mr. Fulton: Thank you. Just one more short one, Mr. Chairman, it is something that I wanted to bring to the attention of the committee in their further questioning: Even the provincial government has now admitted that there has been massive over-harvesting of the forest resources on the Queen Charlottes. They are not, in any way, involved in what is called sustained yield. Also, it really raises a question in all of the northwest here as to where the federal and provincial governments are going, when they give out permits massively, exceeding, at times, 8,000 times the federal standards for marine dumping. They allow massive and acknowledged overcutting of forest resources. There is a real need, and it is not just the small “c” conservative need, there is a real need to look at it not only in terms of the legal question of title, but in terms of just good management. It is simply not happening.
One point in the international forum, because I think it is unique to the Haida situation, is in relation to the offshore. There is very rapid movement now, under Bill C-48, to get involved in offshore drilling off the Queen Charlottes. I think, as members of the committee know, the International Law of
the Sea Treaty has now been signed by 119 nations. A concern that I have, and I know the council of the Haida nations has raised it directly to External Affairs without response so far and I have been in touch with Ambassador Beesley in Jamaica to try to get some comment on it-is that, historically, delegations went from Ottawa, on behalf of the Dominion, to Geneva and to various functions in Europe with native Canadian people and Inuit in tow-and I say that advisedly to demonstrate that the native people in Canada were participating with the development of the “Dominion of Canada” at that time.
A very similar thing has now just occurred, with Canada’s signing the International Law of the Sea Treaty without coming and negotiating with the council of the Haida nations in regard to the offshore. There is no question, if one looks at the Calder case, if one looks now at the Constitution, it is now a fact in Canada that title in terms of the Haida case has been recognized. Here, at the same time as it has been recognized constitutionally, we have a very powerful body, on behalf of Canada, signing an international treaty, particularly in relation to seabed mining and it will have influence, of course, on offshore oil and gas. I just wonder if you could comment on it.
I raise it so that committee members will be aware of it. I think we should research, where possible, what we can do to encourage the Government of Canada to involve itself, as quickly as possible, in negotiations regarding the offshore because the Haida case is particularly clear, but there are other tribal groups on the coast of B. C. and in the Arctic and in maritime Canada where a very similar situation is going to evolve, where Canada has been involved in signing a treaty for which it did not have jurisdiction to do so.
I just wonder if you could comment on whether there has been any movement from the federal government on the offshore, because it is a very important and unique part of Haida title.
Mr. Richardson: As far as the Law of the Sea Treaty goes, I think Canada’s moves on that have been very representative of the way they have dealt with our people historically. They are assuming sovereignty and jurisdiction over the waters off the coast of B.C., which includes Haida tribal territories. This International Law of the Sea, which is a constitution governing the world’s oceans, makes very explicit reference, very specific reference, to the terms that Canada must meet before they can assume sovereignty and jurisdiction over these areas. It points out very clearly the concept of aboriginal title in the process they should go through in dealing with the aboriginal people before they can assume sovereignty over these areas in the international community. Canada was a signatory to that treaty. I am sure they were very aware of it.
They have never approached our people to deal with our title to that area, even though the Haida people for the last 150 or so years have been making very serious representations to the Government of Canada to sit down and, as equals, work out
the relationship that the Haida people will have to the Canadian people. The Haidas have been very patient and done this in good faith and Canada, despite their policy statements and the international agreements they have signed and their championing of human rights in these international declarations, has not made any meaningful attempt to deal with us in our title to these areas.
I think, somewhat reluctantly, the council of the Haida nations brought it to the attention of the United Nations and the people who are involved in the Law of the Sea Treaty that Canada has not dealt fairly and honestly with the Haida people, in particular, and the people of the coast. As you stated, when they went to assert their jurisdiction over the waters off the coast of B. C. and out into the Pacific, they took Indian people to make that point. I am sure the rest of the international community assumed that, since these Indian people were Canadians, the Canadian government had dealt with them. But, in particular in the Haida case, and I know of other cases on this coast, they have not dealt with us, despite our very honest attempts to sit down and deal with it in an open and just manner.
Mr. Fulton: I take it that a very similar situation is occurring in the Canada-U.S. negotiations on salmon treaties.
Mr. Richardson: Yes, that is also in our area.
Mr. Fulton:Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Fulton. Roberta Jamieson.
Ms. Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, too, to my colleague, Mr. Fulton, for raising those issues. That was very helpful. Actually, I was going to ask you about the salmon treaty, because I have been asking some of the other witnesses who have been before us.
You also raised the matter that, like some of the other witnesses who have come before us, you have experienced, as a sovereign people, colonization by both the U.S. and Canada. They have, in fact, severed some of your people, one from the other, with the imposition of that border. We know also that that has happened to Malecite, Mohawks, Crees, Ojibway, Dakota, Blackfoot and others. Do you think, as one of your powers of self-government, you ought to be able to trade freely and move freely across the border-your people? That that should be something that this committee should focus on, removing whatever kind of Canadian legislation inhibits that trade and free movement?
Mr. Richardson: Definitely that is one area that this committee in particular could deal with. The Haida people, particularly the Massett people, are dealing with that very
issue right now in dealing with-I do not know what you call those departments-the customs and regulations departments, for the Canadian government to open channels so that we can interact freely with our people who live in the United States area.
Frank, do you want to comment?
Mr. F. Collison: We look to the Jay treaties sometimes to see what is in there, to see what is possible, but it is quite a nuisance having to deal with the different regulations that have been imposed. We do not really pay a whole lot of attention to them. As I say, we regard them as a nuisance; they are just a hindrance to our movement. We do deal with it and try not to make such a big deal out of it. But it is something I think we should address to try to come to some agreement on; that there has to be that recognition of free movement of different sovereign nations, not only ourselves but the other people who live in the more concentrated populated areas who are more apt to move back and forth across the border between the U.S. and Canada. But I think also there should be some kind of an agreement that allows us to move anywhere: we want. It is not a right that anyone has to impose on anyone.
Ms. Jamieson: Just to follow that up a little. You have declared yourselves a sovereign nation; that it is your intention to remain a somewhat separate nation, but that there is a desire to work out the terms of the relationship that you, as a nation, wish to have with Canada. You also say in your brief that you want something of an international statute to replace the current Indian Act, and then you go on to say that you would like to look at having some seats in current structures of government; for instance, seats in the House of Parliament, and Mr. Allmand has asked you for clarification on that point.
This issue has been raised with some of the other witnesses before us, and let me tell you the way some people have responded, and please comment on this. They feel that if they were to agree to having two or three seats, or five or six, or eight or ten, or however many seats, in the House of Commons, which currently has, what, 282, that they would be relinquishing their nationhood status and would become part of this House of Commons, part of Canada proper, and not maintain a separate nationhood status; and furthermore that if any votes were ever held on issues affecting Indian people you might get some seats. But 282 members, that is a lot of seats, and the fear is that you would never really have an effective voice in that structure. Could you speak to that position?
Grand Chief Williams: You are talking about the Canadian government. We are here representing the Haida nation, and I think all we are interested in is the Haida government.
Ms. Jamieson: I am· talking about one of your recommendations that says that provisions should be made for a direct aboriginal representation in the government structure in Canada. Maybe you could clarify that for me. Maybe I misunderstood your brief.
Mr. F. Collison: There has to be some kind of representation in the government system. As you say, we talk a little about
political trust, and we do not see where we can place our trust at the moment. We would be more inclined to trust the Canadian government rather than what is in place at the moment, and that is really the reference that we are making. We do not have that defined in complete detail at the moment, but whether it takes that many or not is really not the issue, it is a matter of having that representation and having that voice.
Ms Jamieson: Okay, I understand now what you are saying; that you want some kind of representation within that structure, or related to that structure, but you have not decided what it is exactly.
Mr. F. Collison: Maybe we should make it clear that we are not declaring ourselves a completely separate nation from Canada. We are just saying that we have to be recognized as a sovereign nation within that context. I suppose that has been enunciated by all the other nations in Canada; that there has to be that recognition basically and also, secondly, to have some representation and a voice in what happens to the nation after it has been recognized. It is not enough just to recognize it and to say: We say now that you are the nation of the Haida nation. There has to be that continuing relationship and representation.
Ms. Jamieson: Thank you. I might just let you know that some other witnesses have given some thought to this, and some of them have even gone so far as to suggest an Indian legislature, an Indian senate, that would consider bills after they have come out of the current House of Parliament. So there are other ideas around about the kind of relationship in terms of structure that Indian nations should have with the Canadian government. If you do not already have copies, I will help you get copies of Hansard where those things have been discussed.
Just to go on a bit, one of the other suggestions in your document I would like to ask about is your suggestion for a national board of Indian trustees which would function, as I understand it, as a national body to replace Indian Affairs, either in total or in part. We have also heard other witnesses suggest government-to-government relationships and negotiations on the basis of, say, the Nishga-1 will not say the Nishga suggested this to us-negotiating directly with government on fiscal arrangements, as opposed to going through some national organization. How do you feel about that, or do you feel that each nation should determine how it wants to operate; whether or not it wants to go with this national body or operate directly?
Mr. F. Collison: We do not think there is really any problem with how we are represented. It is a matter, as I stated before, of placing that trust in people we know and who are able to act on our behalf with the least amount of encumbrances. Whether we have to have direct representation to the Parliament of Canada or whether we can do it through a body of Indian elected people, then so be it, that is fine. There is no problem with that.
Mr. Richardson:I think the recommendations, of which that is one, should be looked at in the context of being interim
measures to deal with the development of our government structures and their interface with the Government of Canada; that this board at the national level, or whatever, is put in place and recommends, I think mainly, to do away with this bureaucracy and have us deal with our problems the way we see fit, and that these dollars flow freely to us, which are dollars derived from our resources anyway. As Jim pointed out, whether it comes from a board at the national level or whether it comes from taxation of our resources, or whatever, I think the important point is that they come to us and that we are accountable to our people for them.
Ms. Jamieson: Thank you. You also suggest that intergovernmental legislation and agreements involving the department be reviewed. and adjusted where necessary. Do you feel that those should be reviewed, adjusted and negotiated involving the Haida Nation where you are affected?
Mr. E. Collison: We do anticipate participating in such a review. There are very many different areas where services are provided for on our behalf without our participation. We really stress the point that this whole process must be investigated and that we must be participants in that investigation.
Ms. Jamieson: Would this again be a case of equal-to-equal negotiation for the revision of those agreements?
Mr. F. Collison: It cannot be any other way.
Ms. Jamieson: Thank you. I would like to ask another question in the area of the ongoing resource developments. From what I understand, there are internal memos within the Department of Indian Affairs in this region that say these mega-projects and the impact of the mega-projects are of prime concern, that this is going to have the most devastating effect on Indian communities in this province. Apparently, there are supposed to be funds available to Indian people to pursue their concern in this area.
I wonder if you know of this or if any funding has been made available to you. If so, how have you dealt with that?
Mr. Richardson: There have been a few dollars made available to deal with this mega-project development, very restricted and subject to memorandums of agreement and the strict regulations of the Department of Indian Affairs. They certainly have not given us the resources to deal with them in any meaningful way, and I think it is important the dollars continue to come to us so we can deal with these projects.
But even more importantly, I think we should expedite the resolution of our aboriginal title, because no matter how many dollars you throw our way, we do not have the basis to deal with that mega-project development, based on our history as Haida people and our status on our islands as Haida people. They are not going to deal with it adequately, no matter how many dollars you throw there. But it is important the dollars that do come continue, so we can do some of the necessary baseline work once this broader issue is resolved.
Ms Jamieson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just have a comment to make at this stage, that the brief was excellent. It is clear; it is a very strong brief from the Haida Nation. I know they have been pursuing settlement of title for some time in this area, without success to date. I wish them well, and I hope this committee will study it very seriously. This is our last day on the coast, and we have heard time and time again the need to settle the issue of outstanding title. I will urge this committee to turn their minds to that.
One of the things often in the minds of non-Indian Canadians is: Why is all this coming up now? Why can these Indians not be Canadians? Why can we not all just forget the past and carry on?
What is not understood, it seems to me, is: Because of the very nature of the Indian people, they allowed other people to come here and share and live and have even their own systems of government. But that has been abused and it has to be rectified. I think what we are hearing from the Nishgas, the Haida Nation and others is that it has to be done now. This is the end. It has been abused too much.
Furthermore, the Haida Nation have demonstrated they are capable of managing their resource. It seems to me it is in the interest of all Canadians to look to them, because they are going to be the survivors in terms of wise resource management.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Richardson: In terms of Canadians and our relationship to Canada, I think the Haida Nation has always expressed that, once appropriate terms are worked out, we can work together with Canadians or come under that definition of Canadian. We will always be Haida people as defined by ourselves, but we could come under your definition of Canadians once these agreements are worked out.
I think what is basically required is that we work this out on the basis of respect for us as a people. The unity of all of Canada can be looked at, I think, in terms of what we are putting forth.
I think our people’s concept of unity is based on respect; and that is pretty well, in a nutshell, what we are seeking, just recognition of us as Haida people within this Canadian structure.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Manly.
Mr. Manly: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the representatives from the Haida Nation for appearing before us today.
On page 9, recommendation 3, you say:
The Native Claims Policy of Canada be amended for purposes of expediting the review process of claims based on unextinguished Aboriginal Title.
Yesterday, we heard from the Nishgas that their negotiations have been stalled, and they face continual difficulties there. The Gitksan-Carrier people, who appeared earlier this morning, have not yet been able to begin negotiations, pending some progress on the Nishga claim.
My understanding is, with the Haida, your claim has not yet even been accepted for negotiation. That is how completely the whole land claims process has broken down on the coast of British Columbia.
Could you tell the committee when you submitted your claim, and what has happened to it to date?
Mr. F. Collison: In November, 1980, the formal claim of the Haida Nation was submitted on behalf of the entire Haida Nation by the two band councils. The mandate was then handed to the newly elected executive and board of the council of the Haida Nation. Since the submission, we have had some pretty long-winded discussions with people from the Office of Native Claims and have yet to receive a reply.
Our submission has gone through the identifying process, to our knowledge, and has not been responded to in our favour. We would gratefully receive your assistance on this matter.
Grand Chief Williams: As for the submission of the so called Haida claim through the policy of the Government of Canada, which was very clearly articulated in that book, In all Fairness, we submitted our claim in accordance with the regulations that they laid out very clearly. We went right by the rules of their policy and fulfilled every one. We made representations to the Government of Canada, asking them if there were any questions outstanding that we could answer for clarification, in order to get on with dealing with this claim. We made it very clear to them we had gone in accordance with their policy.
It has been two years. It has gone through the whole process, and they have not even given us the courtesy of a response.
The grand chief had sent a letter in, I think, September of last year to the Minister of Indian Affairs, clearly pointing out we had fulfilled all the obligations in that policy so that they could begin to deal with our claim. He has come up with wishy-washy excuses ever since then, and he still has not given us any meaningful response to date. They still have not even given us the courtesy of accepting that claim for negotiation. Mr. Manly: It is my understanding that, following the submission of your claim, instead of the review process being expedited, in fact, the review process has been stalled and a new level has been added to it. I understand the claim has been
submitted over a year ago to some committee of assistant deputy ministers from different departments.
It is interesting that, when they first asked the Office of Native Claims about the reason for it-and this was also in connection with the Nuu-chah-nulth and Heiltsuk claims they said it had been submitted to the committee of deputy ministers because they were concerned about overlapping of claims. I wonder if you have any comment on that.
Mr. F. Collison: We have not had any problems with other coastal tribes about the boundaries we have outlined and they have outlined. If there are any boundaries that extend over another, we consider that complementary. They are inter-locked with ourselves, and we will pursue the negotiations on that basis.
Another area in which we have had problems in the claims submission is that we do not particularly enjoy the unwritten policy of negotiations of claims based on aboriginal title, as witnessed in the James Bay situation, where they were practically negotiating under the gun because of the massive mega-project of hydroelectric development power.
We are in the same situation on the Queen Charlottes, in the northwest here and up and down the entire coast because of the offshore situation, because of the mining interests, because of the forestry interests. We feel the claim must be clear, precise and based on the virtues of unextinguished title rather than the concept of putting us under the gun, when the time comes for Canada to develop the mega-project.
Mr. Manly: So if there are overlapping claims, they would probably be with the aboriginal rights of some of the large oil companies rather than with some other Indian nations. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Chairman: Any further questions?
Mr. Penner: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to go a little further with the question Roberta Jamieson was raising with respect to provisions for direct aboriginal representation in the government structure of Canada. I think this is an interesting suggestion. It is one with a lot of inherent difficulties, but it is one that is worth talking about. At various times, Warren Allmand and I have thought about carving out certain constituencies in which there are a concentrated number of Indian people, and make them constituencies in the normal sense but with a reduced number of electors. I think there are great difficulties in doing that. I do not know whether Warren is still encouraged in that approach or not, but there are difficulties.
Another approach is to do what they have done in New Zealand, which is to set aside a certain number of seats. But again, that draws sovereign nations, as you describe yourselves, into the system and tends to blur the distinction. So I am not so sure that is all that acceptable.
There is another approach which I have been thinking about and on which I would like to get your reaction. That is the delegate status to the Parliament of Canada. What would be your reaction to having the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations given delegate status to the Parliament of Canada? By that, the person elected by the Indian chiefs of the country to be the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations also would be, upon his election, a delegate to the Parliament of Canada where he would have a seat and all the rights and privileges of a member of Parliament. He Would speak in the House of Commons on the same basis as anyone else speaks. And in addition to that, he would have the authority to appoint two people to serve on the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development also, who would be delegates to monitor and participate fully in all deliberations of that standing committee. Would such a recommendation find favour with the representatives of the Haida nation? Would it go far enough? Would it be adequate in meeting your recommendations that provisions be made for direct aboriginal representation in the government structure of Canada?
Grand Chief Williams: Perhaps I can answer you very briefly on that matter. I have concerns about having a seat in the government. But I kind of like the idea about the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. I think in that sense he could clearly outline the wishes of the Indian people whereas, when you have a parliamentarian he sits there and could easily be defeated by some of the views that he presents. I tend to think along the lines of an ambassador. Okay. If we had someone from the Haida nation go to the Government of Canada and say, this is what we want, we could have a lot more action that way than if we had a parliamentarian, somebody like a member of Parliament.
Mr. Penner: I understand your concern about having an ordinarily-elected member of Parliament being your spokes-man and that you would have some reservations about that. That is the system you have now and it is not totally adequate. But the concern I would have about every nation or every tribal council sending an ambassador, is the apparent difficulty there. I mean, there would be a large number of such ambassadors. I am not sure how you would handle that in some sort of an efficient manner. However, it is your suggestion; we will take a look at that and see if it could be put into effect.
Mr. Richardson: If there were to be a representative in the Houses of Parliament for all of the native people in Canada and it should be the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations or whoever is designated by the aboriginal people of Canada, I think that would be fine to have a voice there and some dialogue between the Indian nations and the decision makers on behalf of the Canadian government. But I think it should be made clear that, in particular, the Haida nation is not looking to become a .part of the government structure of Canada and to having our forms of government amongst ourselves defined by the Canadian system.
What we are looking for is some mechanism where they can be respected within that system which will deal with how those structures are formed. Then once our aboriginal title is dealt with, we can sit down and comprehensively define what our relations and interfaces will be so that we can carry on our Haida culture in society-that is, within the structures of Canada but not defined by those structures. If we needed that ongoing dialogue, then, I am sure the Indian nations of Canada could work out how that dialogue should take place and, perhaps, it would be by having the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations having a seat in Parliament.
The Vice Chairman: Sandra Isaac.
Ms Isaac: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You indicate on page 4 that there may be a significant number of people living away from your village because of the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act. I assume a large number are the women then. Therefore, what are your views on reinstatement as recommended by the first subcommittee on Indian women and the Indian Act? Are you in favour?
Mr. E. Collison: We are in favour. The Massett Band Council and, later, the Skidegate Band Council submitted our position respecting that. But to us it makes no difference. We are a nation of people and we define our own membership.
Ms Isaac: I see.
Mr. Richardson: I think those sections of the Indian Act are fine which bring women back on and things like that. But I think the message you got yesterday from the Nishga people, and what has been the position of the Haida nation is that we define our own membership. In the meantime, the Indian Act is in the way of having all our people participating in those government-defined structures. Eventually, of course, it will not be even a case of worrying about sections in the Indian Act. In the interim, however, those are fine although, certainly, they do not address the whole problem, but are no hindrance in terms of what is in place now.
Ms Isaac: I see. Does that mean, then, that you are not really affected by that because you sort of ignore it? I mean those sections which discriminate. Are those women who have lost their status allowed at present to return, should they wish to?
Mr. Richardson: I would not say that it does not affect us, because it does in terms of our relationship to the Indian Act and the way it limits the participation of the people. But, certainly, as to the people whom it brings back into the band council structure it helps. But, as I said, that certainly does not address the issue to the degree that it has to be.
Ms Isaac: But I guess it does affect those women who are off the reserve, you know, and not benefiting from living amongst their people and benefiting from the same services.
Mr. Richardson: Yes; it does affect them, certainly. Like I said, it brings them under the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development structure.
Ms Isaac: If there were to be within the aboriginal rights section, No. 35, an equality-rights provision beneath there somewhere-that is, in that the ,aboriginal rights concept-would you be in favour of that? You know, it would not affect the collective rights of the native people. There has been concern in the past that individual rights might affect the collective rights of the aboriginal peoples as a whole but if, under Section 35 let us say, there was an equality-rights provision in it, would you be in favour of that?
Mr. Richardson: I do not really see any problem with that. But as is stated very clearly, the Haida people would determine that for ourselves.
Ms Isaac: Yes; for yourselves. Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Any further questions? There being no further questions, I would like to thank the Grand Chief, Mr. Percy Williams, and members of the council for appearing before us and presenting their brief. We appreciate that very much. The questions brought out a number of the areas of concern to us. Have you any further comments, Grand Chief?
Grand Chief Williams: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It has been a very exciting day for us. In past years, I have been very impressed with the presentations made by our leaders in British Columbia to the federal government. Just the other day, I had occasion to talk to one of our elders in our community who was amazed at how we are able now to come before people representing the federal government today as compared to, say, around 1913-a very important date to me. In that year some of our Haida people, and some of our coastal people, made representations to Ottawa on basically the same things we are talking about today. Why is it taking so long? We are concerned that these things which should have been resolved years and years ago are not resolved today. As to whether they will be resolved, I look with a great deal of optimism to the future.
I have been involved in Indian politics just about all my life. I am getting grey hair-! have been involved for approximately 32 years. But there are no funds available to allow us to make our presentations or to work with our Indian governments in Canada, in the Queen Charlottes in particular. We make sacrifices. We could be out earning a living, but our concern for our people comes first, so we have come to meet with you people.
As I said earlier, in 1913 a delegation went to Ottawa to make presentations. I have heard stories about how they raised the money to get there. There were no moneys available; they put together pennies and nickels so they could pay their way to make representation in Ottawa. Today we are talking about
basically the same thing. I am very happy that I can be part of this delegation today, to see the young people taking part, our younger people taking an interest in their people.
As you can see from their presentations and comments, they have learned to talk in the way of the white man, and they have learned to prepare papers in the ways of the white man, whereas our forefathers did not, it was all on trust. We talk about trust today. With the Indians across our great land, everything was by trust and word of mouth.
It is quite coincidental that we talk about trust. Just about the time the case of our neighbours, the Musquearns, came up, three big -corporations or trust companies were having trouble. That is troublesome to me as an Indian. When I was going to school we looked in the dictionary when we were not sure of a word, and “trust” is a word we were taught the meaning of when we were knee high. Yet when you hear the court’s interpretation of “trust”, it has a different meaning altogether. It makes us wonder: what are we dealing with?
In closing, Mr. Chairman, on a brighter note, if any of you have occasion to come up to our Queen Charlottes-! am not saying have occasion: we invite you. Anyone of you who wishes to come to our beautiful Queen Charlottes, you will be more than welcome. I am sure that if anyone of us sitting here happens to be home at the time, we will be very proud to host you and show you the better parts of our Queen Charlottes. Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chairman: Thank you for that invitation.
I want to close the meeting by saying that we should pay attention to the fact that the bus leaves at 2 p.m. for our plane. So anyone who is late will have to swim the little piece of water between here and the airport.
The meeting is now adjourned to the call of the Chair, which will be next week in Ottawa.
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FEDERAL STANQIBG COMMITTEE
February 17, 1983.
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The Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council represents a modern alliance between the Gitksan Nation ( Tsimshian linguistic group) and the two Bulkley River villages of the Carrier Nation (Athapascan or Done Group). Our brochure, included in this information package, provides some background on who we are, where we live and what we are doing.
The Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council is one element in the present day system of Indian government in our area. The other elements are the elected Band Councils and our traditional political system, in which power is vested in the Hereditary Chiefs.
In this presentation we provide a summary of the history of Indian Government in our area. This approach provides a background tor our views on the future of Indian Government and the role that Federal legislation may play.
INDIAN GOVERNMEN~ BEFORE EUROPEAN CONTACT
Figure 1 is a schematic representation of the way in which our traditional system integrated political, social and economic life in order to fulfill the functions which today are assigned to government.
The social system was based on the extended family unit or “House” in which kinship and inheritance were reckoned through one’s maternal ancestors. Groups of related houses constitute clans, of which there are four in both Gitksan and Carrier systems.
Political power in the traditional system rested with the high ranking members of each of tile Houses. These carefully selected and prepared leaders, termed Hereditary Chiefs in English, held final responsibility for decisions regarding the internal and external affairs of our communities.
Each Rouse had traditional harvesting rights and management responsibilities over specific territories: hunting grounds, fishing sites and berry patches. The Hereditary Chiefs controlled access to resources and arbitrated disputes. The net effect of their decisions was to organize the harvest, protect the resource base and distribute the wealth of the lands they controlled.
The central institution of our traditional culture was the Feast or Potlatch; all aspects of our cultural system are integrated into the Feast. The Feast provided a public forum for the conduct of all important community business. Marriages, births and deaths were announced, Debts were paid and disputes were settled. Property changed hands.
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Perhaps most important, succession, inheritance and other changes in the power hierarchy were announced, confirmed and witnessed.
The Feast and the other elements of our traditional system continue to operate today, though the effectiveness of the system as a whole has declined since contact.
INFLUENCES ON INDIAN GOVERNMENT AFTER CONTACT
More than a century of contact between our culture and the non-Indian system has seriously weakened our traditional system of government. However, it is important to note that many of our traditional social and economic institutions persisted in full flower well into this century. The essential elements of our traditional system remain intact today, but they have been undermined by legislation and policies which have created parallel and competing institutions and have made illegal many of our traditional economic activities (Table 1).
The combined effect of the many poet-contact influences has been to pull apart our traditional government and to uncouple the elements of what was once a well-integrated socio-economic system (Figure 2).
By establishing a system of Bands governed by elected Chiefs and Band Councils, the Indian Act created a political structure within the Indian community which parallelled and competed with the authority of the Hereditary Chiefs. In addition, non-Indian governments a imply assumed power over many areas, notably resource management, that traditionally had been controlled by Indian Government.
In the economic sphere the non-Indian society has systematically appropriated the resources which traditionally supported our people. Indians have been either excluded (pre-emption laws) or severely restricted (fish and game laws) from access to resources.
Today our people suffer from the social problems common to aboriginal peoples across Canada. and the world: unemployment, alcohol problems, welfare mentality and so on. We attribute these problems directly to the decay of our social structure brought about by the loss of political and economic control over our lives.
The principal goal of the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council is to resolve the social and economic problems of the Gitksan and Carrier people. We feel that the key element in the
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process is the restoration of Gitksan and Carrier control over the land and resources necessary to support our people. To this end our top priority since the mid-1970s has been the pursuit of a just resolution of our land claim. In addition we have intervened directly in particular matters affecting our welfare: for example, management of the Skeena salmon fisheries and Alcan’s proposed Kemano II hydroelectric development.
The Indian Government Bill can contribute to this process by facilitating a just settlement of our Land Claim. It should also acknowledge our Aboriginal Right to control and manage the resources on which our political/social system is based. We would be happy to work further with this committee regarding the specific elements et such legislation.
We hope that a new Indian Government Act will assist us in our chosen course. We fear, however, that it will only be the latest element in the historical series of restrictive policies and legislation.
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LEGISLATION AND POLICY
|PERIOD||LEGISLATION OR POLICY||NO. OF YEARS|
|1876-1983||Women’s Marriage Laws||107|
|1876-?||Educated Indian Law||?|
|1884-1958||School Laws (no vote)||74|
|1895-1983||Game Protection Act||88|
|1926-1983||BC Special Re: McKenna-McBride||59|
From the Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council:
Mr. Neil J. Sterritt, President.
Mr. Ken Muldde, Treasurer.
From the Council of the Haida Nation:
Grand Chief Percy Williams.
Mr. Ernie Collison, Board Member.
From the Massett Band Council:
Councillor Frank Collison.
Ms. Andrea Dickson, Band Manager.
From the Skidegate Band Council:
Mr. Miles Richardson, Jr., Band Manager.