January 30, 1958

PC

Robert Hardy Small

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Small:

Confession is good for the soul.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I was trying to explain that I find it easier to admit that I did something which possibly was not expedient than I would find it to admit that I did something that was morally wrong. I took the stand I did because it did seem to me that under the law-and this was the way I looked at the matter at that time-it was not proper for the minister to intervene in the legal process between two sets of people which was provided under a statute of parliament. As I say, I took the punishment and I did not complain and am not complaining now. However, it is not one of those things that are among my pleasantest recollections of my period as minister.

I think that, with the hindsight we now have, all of us could have made a better provision than was made in the statute before I was in parliament in 1951, the provision for establishing proper band lists, something which had never existed before at any time, and making sure that those band lists were accurate. But I have no real criticism to offer of the parliament before the last one which enacted this statute, nor of any of the hon. members who served on the committee which considered the matter; because, although some of the incidents like the Hobbema one and several others perhaps might have been handled better, I do think the results achieved by putting section 9 into the act and by getting proper band lists established for all time to come have been a very great achievement that is a credit to parliament, the department and everyone concerned with the matter.

The minister was kind enough to answer a couple of questions I put on the order paper during the course of the session because I could not lay my hands on my own records of what had happened under section 9, and in view of the fact that this process is now coming to an end I think it might be useful to have these figures on the record. I asked this question:

How many names have been definitely removed from Indian band lists as a result of action taken under section 9 of the Indian Act, since its coming into force?

The answer as of November 26, 1957, was that up to that time the number taken off was 21. The figure may be slightly different since. I also asked this question:

Indian Act

How many names have been definitely added to the band lists in the same circumstances?

The answer was 244. That is more than ten times as many.

How many cases are still in dispute under section 9, subsection 3 of the Indian Act?

The number was 5.

Are there any other questions as to the Indian status of an individual still in dispute and, if so, how many?

The answer was 14. If the minister has the information available, perhaps when he replies, or later on the estimates-I do not want to hold up the bill at all-he would explain what has happened to those cases in dispute. I would hope that before this legislation is actually proclaimed those disputed cases might be cleared up so the whole thing would be over and done with once and for all.

A little later I asked another question, when I realized that I had not got all the information I was seeking by my first question. I asked how many names were added to the Indian band lists by the registrar pursuant to section 7 of the present act since it came into force, and the number given in theanswer was 1,025. Therefore it would appear that as a result of this process of getting good band lists that will be good for alltime, that will establish certainty in the

minds of the Indians as to whether or not their status is protected, as a result of what was done by parliament in 1951 we have added nearly 1,300 names to the lists and removed 21.

It is true that in the process some unfortunate things happened that perhaps would have happened anyway, because when a

situation of long standing comes to be resolved and there are disputes between the individuals involved it is often very hard to settle them to everybody's satisfaction and in complete harmony. But I think those people who served in the parliament before the last one and who took the responsibility for enacting the present Indian Act, also my friend Mr. Harris who administered the act for the greater part of the period when this was done, and perhaps even myself to some very small degree, did a useful piece of work in getting these band lists into a form in which the minister now feels they can be guaranteed for the future.

I want to say, sir, I do think that not only this step but any other step by which we can reassure the Indians, to whom in my opinion we have a special moral obligation that we do not have to any other inhabitants of this country, that their rights will be protected should be taken.

Indian Act

The minister recalls perhaps, as I do, that there is another section of the act which causes some concern and some anxiety to the Indians. I believe that, as is the case with this section, there is no intrinsic reason for this anxiety. I refer to section 112, under which parliament provided for compulsory enfranchisement of Indians. I am not going to suggest to the minister at this late stage in the session that he should amend this bill to do anything about that. But I do suggest to the minister or to whoever may be his successor that the next time any amendments to the Indian Act are under consideration we ought to consider carefully whether that section should not be taken out of the act. I stated publicly in this house that so long as I was minister it would never be used. I would hope the minister might feel inclined to make a similar statement, because I think it would be helpful.

There is one other point I might raise, and that is this. When the Indian Act was last under review in the house there was a great deal of argument about appeals to the courts.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Perhaps the minister was going to remind the hon. member that we are about to deal with the estimates of his department. Have the estimates relating to Indian matters been considered?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

No, Mr. Speaker, I am quite out of order, and I shall desist at once. I might make an observation on this point on the estimates. It is not a point about which there would be any controversy.

All I want to say in conclusion, sir, is that I think this is good legislation. I welcome it, and I hope my friends will support it.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Arthur Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. R. Smith (Calgary South):

Mr. Speaker, I have very little to add to what has been said, but I should like to commend the government for introducing this amendment. This incident to which reference has been made is one upon which we look back with perhaps not quite the same concern we had at that time. I believe most of us will agree that the circumstances surrounding the purchase and sale of scrip had many unfortunate aspects in the early history of our country. This incident received more than a little notoriety. I do not intend to enter into a controversy about it but I thought I detected rather a note of apology, graciously offered, by the former minister. I think he fairly stated the position in which he was and about which those of us who were concerned about the matter took rather serious exception.

My reason for rising was to pay special tribute to the many men and women who rallied to the support of the Hobbema Indians, as is the privilege of any citizen. They brought this matter to the attention of their respective members, who in turn pressed the case before the government. I feel that perhaps we have lost sight of the fact that there was a special significance in the Hobbema incident by reason of the fact that the lands on which these Indians reside are becoming of greater value because of their mineral wealth. Hobbema was only one of a series of events which, while not numerous, nevertheless contained an element of moral risk which must be corrected, as was pointed out by both the present minister and the hon. gentleman he succeeded.

I would have liked to make several suggestions for other amendments to this act, but rather than take the time of this house I have made those suggestions personally to the minister. I believe this is perhaps the most important amendment that has to be made at this point to bring to a close a rather regrettable chapter in our relations with the Indians.

I believe we will have to go some distance yet in improving the Indian Act of 1951. There are three amendments which at some future session of the house I would be happy to recommend to the minister.

As I resume my seat, may I again congratulate the government upon fulfilling what was really another one of their pledges. This is a good piece of legislation, and it is unquestionably going to receive the wholehearted support of the members of this house.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. F. G. J. Hahn (New Westminster):

Mr. Speaker, I would feel somewhat remiss in my duty at this time if I were not to say a word with respect to this amendment. I make these observations on behalf of the hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Thomas) who, as hon. members are aware, is unable to be with us because of illness in his family. Hon. members who were here last session will recall that the hon. member for Westaskiwin did raise this question in the house on more than one occasion last year. I am sure if he were with us today he would be one of the first to commend the government upon the action it has taken.

I am very happy to see that the former minister of citizenship and immigration has indicated that the measure has his wholehearted support. As I recall, at the time the incident occurred the hon. member was rather slow in giving the same measure of sympathy with respect to this matter that he has now indicated. As he said earlier, hindsight is often much better, and often

one can look about and see for himself that there is a need for action. I congratulate him upon this new viewpoint with respect to this matter.

Having said that, I wish to conclude by saying to the minister that I thank him for seeing to it that legislation has been introduced correcting the situation which existed before, and I trust that other matters with respect to the Indians will receive the same consideration this one has been given.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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CCF

Hugh Alexander Bryson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. H. A. Bryson (Humboldi-Melforl):

May

I, on behalf of this group, say to the minister that we whole-heartedly welcome the short statement he made when introducing this bill. We commend the government for the step they have taken. I have always been one of those who believe that ultimately we will help solve our Indian problems by making a real attempt at integration. Integration will only come about if we make a greater effort to restore the confidence and understanding that our Indian people have lost. In the past our record has been rather deplorable, because we have exploited the Indians of this country.

We welcome this measure as a step toward restoring the confidence in us which the Indians have lost. I believe that the restoration of this confidence will be the keystone in the development of a positive program aimed at eventual integration. In this way we will solve the very vexing and embarrassing problems which have been a blot on our concept of morality.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. E. D. Fulion (Acting Minister of Citizenship and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker,-

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I must inform the house that when the minister speaks, he will close the debate.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a word or two in reply to some of the comments that have been made. First of all I should like to express to hon. gentlemen who have spoken appreciation for the support they have indicated for the legislation, and to express my gratification that it still appears that there is complete agreement on the basic approach to the problem of bringing the Indians into full and equal status as citizens along with the rest of the people of the country. There may be differences as to the methods to be followed, but I take it that it is safe to say there is complete unanimity as to the basic objective.

If this bill serves its purpose as one step in re-establishing the confidence of the Indians in the attitude and intent of the Canadian people and their government, it will do a great service in realizing that objective.

Indian Act

It is, of course, not the only measure we have in mind to amend the Indian Act. There are others which are under consideration. There is the matter of the right to appeal mentioned by the hon. member for Calgary South, the question of section 12, and other matters which I will not specify. There are quite a number of them. It is not our suggestion that this is the only bill that is required to improve or to amend the Indian Act. However, there are a number of problems in connection with such amendments as to the method to be followed, the consultation beforehand, and so on; and it becomes- and indeed it should be-a major undertaking to make any substantial change in the act because of what I believe to be the fundamental requirement, namely to obtain the understanding and the approval of the Indians as to what is being done.

We felt that with respect to this amendment there was already an indication of such complete unanimity on the part of the Indians that it could be proceeded with at this session without further delay. But the changes I have mentioned and others will require lengthier study and more time to deal with them. I just wanted to make it clear, however, that we do not say this is all that needs to be done. I thank hon. gentlemen for their support.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Courtemanche in the chair. On clause 1-Exception.


LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I just have one brief

observation to make. I should like to commend the minister for what he said just now about consulting the Indians before making any substantial amendments to the act. I think one of the most useful things Mr. Harris did when he undertook the major reformation that will always, I hope, be associated with his name was to establish what was virtually an Indian parliament in this country. Before any amendments of any substantial character whatsoever are made, I think it is desirable to get the views of the Indians all across Canada.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Zapliiny:

I have a question to ask the minister at this point. It is possible that by a careful reading of the regulations under the act this matter might become clear, but I do not have the regulations before me at the present time. Perhaps it would be useful if the minister would explain what is considered to be a descendant. This amendment refers to persons who are now registered and to their descendants. I know that in the past there has been at times some difficulty;

Indian Act

there has not been unanimity in the interpretation of "descendant". It might be useful if the minister now could put on the record what is the correct interpretation with regard to the term "descendant". In other words, to what point can a person be considered to be a descendant of an Indian within the meaning of the Indian Act?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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IND

Henri Courtemanche (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Independent Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

Shall clause 1 carry?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulion:

The officials are just arriving. I should like to be certain of my answer before I give it.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I commend the minister for that.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I think the word "descendant" is capable of a fairly wide meaning and applies to descendants through either the male of the female branch of the family. That is why the word "descendant" is used rather than the word "child" or some word capable of a narrower meaning.

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Zaplitny:

That is exactly the reason I asked that question. In the interpretation section of the act there is to be found a definition of the word "child" which reads: " 'child' includes a legally adopted Indian child". Then it goes on with other descriptions. What I am thinking of in particular is this. From time to time Indians within the meaning of this act will marry persons of other racial origins. Then, of course, this process goes on until the descendants become-for want of a better description perhaps I can put it in this way-less and less Indian in the full meaning of the term "Indian". Is there a point at which a descendant of an Indian can cease to be an Indian within the meaning of this act, or does that process go on without limit so long as the child is registered as the child of an Indian?

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I now see the hon. member's point. For the purposes of the act in general -and if the hon. member looks at section 11 he will see that the matter is dealt with-the guiding principle is that descendancy is traced through the male line, through the father. In the case of legitimate children, descendancy is traced through the father, but in the case of illegitimate children descendancy may be traced through the mother. If the father was an Indian then the child is an Indian, and so on down through the generations. In the case of an illegitimate child, if the mother was an Indian then the child is entitled to be registered as an Indian. That point is made clear by section 11, subsections (c), (d) and (e).

Topic:   INDIAN ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING NAMES ON INDIAN REGISTER
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January 30, 1958