May I say this to the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate. I could tell him one or two things but I will not.
We also have another problem, Mr. Chairman. My friend the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate signed not too long ago an agreement under the child welfare act. If he had been as busy looking after his job then as he is now in trying to interrupt me, we might not be in the position we are right now. This is a case where an agreement was entered into with the Children's Aid Society to give the people on the reserve the benefit of children's aid. When the man from the government came around and we discussed this proposal with him, I asked him what he was going to do about the people on the reserve who were not Indians. They were very careful-and I include my friend over there-to make an agreement which provided that only band Indians would be eligible for this service. He very politely told me that the county would be responsible for those who were band Indians on these reserves. I maintain that the county should not be responsible for those who are on the reserve and who are there under lease which the minister or somebody from this department has signed.
They could not, as I understand it, lease land from the Indian reserve unless the minister or the superintendent of the Indian affairs approved the lease. I was politely told there would be no trouble about that, and that I was only anticipating it. But what happened? The first case which the children's aid had to take into its care was just such a case as I had envisaged, and the cost to the county might run as high as $20,000 or $25,000 before this family is able to take care of itself.
This is just one of the things I want to bring up whether it is in order or not. I want this to be on record so that the people will know the injustice which has been done to the county of Brant for this long period of years.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to discuss a couple of questions relating to the operations of the Indian affairs branch and to the attitude of that branch and of the department in the past and, probably today, too, toward our native Indians.
First, I should like to say that in the past I have exchanged a certain amount of correspondence on behalf of native Indians in various reserves on the west coast of British Columbia with the Indian affairs branch and with the Vancouver office of that branch, and I came to the conclusion some time ago that this office must manufacture all the red tape for all the other branches in the department.
One of the most serious complaints made by the native Indians and by anyone who has attempted to speak for native Indians, is the great delay in answering correspondence and in taking up grievances and related subjects. I will cite just three particular instances. In the Hazelton band about 10 years ago, or maybe a little longer, a locatee on the reserve sold part of his land to the school board for a new school. The land was sold and the transfer was agreed to. A survey was carried out, the school was built, and the children began going to school. But it was three years before the individual who owned the land got his money from the Indian affairs branch in regard to the transaction.
Then there is the case of another Indian who leased some of his land to the British Columbia power commission. I may say that the actual amount of land on which he was located could not be determined. The lease was in effect for two years, and two years rent had been paid by the power commission into the Indian affairs branch before it finally got to this locatee. Upon enquiry of a gentleman employed in this branch I was told that because the matter was being dealt with in three separate files, or something of that nature, they could not get them together until I approached them about it.
There is another instance of land that was acquired from the reserve for a new highway project. A number of locatees were involved. When I was in the provincial legislature some three years ago I saw a copy of the document setting out the names of the locatees, the surveyed amount of land that had been used, and an indication that a cheque had gone to the Indian affairs branch to cover each locatee's portion of the land that had been used by the department of highways. That was three years ago. Some of this money has now, I understand, been paid to some of the locatees within the last few months. Some of it has not.
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When the Prime Minister sat on this side of the house as leader of the opposition he made a number of speeches relating to Indian affairs and one of the suggestions he made then was that a royal commission should be established to deal with Indian affairs. At first I looked upon that suggestion as not having too much value. I thought: what is the sense in having another royal commission? We have had investigations and house committee studies and parliamentary committee sittings with regard to Indian affairs, and all sorts of ideas and suggestions have been made to the Indian affairs branch. Surely we do not need to waste time again by setting up another royal commission. But on further reflection, and after discussing again some of the problems involved, I am inclined to revise my original impression and to think that the Prime Minister had an excellent idea when he was leader of the opposition.
I hope he will carry it out and establish this royal commission, but I hope that such a royal commission, if it is established, will not be confined to dealing with the general problems of native Indians on the reserves and in the field, such as those which have accumulated over many years'. I hope that if such a royal commission is established it will also have authority to study the inside and intricate operations of the administration of the Indian affairs branch so that we may eliminate in the future some of the delays which have been going on.
In October of last year the native brotherhood of British Columbia presented a brief to the cabinet dealing with a number of items concerning native Indians. One of these items was, and I quote:
We believe that a royal commission should be appointed so that the Indian point of view might be placed before the Canadian people as a whole rather than through the narrow conduit pipe of the administrative services within the department itself.
I would point out that this phrase "narrow conduit pipe" is a direct quotation from one of the speeches the present Prime Minister made when he was speaking on Indian affairs from this side of the house.
However, there are problems which are far more serious than simply the administration of the Indian affairs branch. We have to consider the whole general attitude taken by the government in past years and by the government now toward this question, the general attitude of the provincial governments and the general attitude of non-Indians toward native Indians. Over the years it has been one of disgraceful and direct paternalism toward our native Indian people, and because it has been of this nature we
have driven our native Indians into the state of being a depressed race of people. Just because our official attitude toward them has been of this character, their morale is shattered, their self confidence has been lost and they consider less of themselves as a race of people, than do most people in this country. This is not their fault. It is the fault of legislators in the past and of legislators now. It is the fault of our general attitude toward native Indians, and I hope that a breath of fresh air will blow into the cabinet through the ability of the present minister so that this approach will be reversed, and so that we may have a definite and concrete attitude toward Indian problems. I hope, also, that we will take steps to amend the Indian Act to a point where, eventually, we may be able to repeal it altogether. That can be done, I think, within the space of one generation, if we do something about it. We have wasted many years already waiting for time and the evolutionary process to correct the situation so the native Indian people will, as we are prone to express it, get up to the same level we are. No real advance has been made since the Indian Act was first enacted.
One of the fundamental difficulties lies in the field of education. There are two approaches to the question of educating our native Indian children which I think are entirely wrong. The first approach is through the department which has established day schools and residential schools on the reserves, and the other is a combined effort in some school districts where native Indian children have been integrated in schools attended by non-Indian children. I feel that no real advance will be made in this field until the education of Indian children is turned over by the department to the provinces, with the federal government paying a certain amount of money to the provinces to meet the costs. This will lead to a higher educational standard for our native Indian children. I do not know what attitude the minister has toward this suggestion, and I would very much appreciate it if, when he participates in this discussion, he would indicate the official attitude of the department and that of himself to the suggestion of placing the teaching of Indian children within the jurisdiction of the provinces, having the Indian affairs branch relinquish its activity in this field and having the federal government accept responsibility for contributing to the cost of an integrated system of education.
I would now like to deal with the attitude toward our native Indian people on the part of some elements in our society. Generally we say that there is no racial discrimination
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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration in existence in Canada, and we pride ourselves on that, particularly when we consider the events at Little Rock and the situation that obtains in South Africa and similar incidents. However, there is a degree of racial discrimination in our society against our native Indian people. In some instances it is expressed subtly, or is under the surface, but in other instances it is blatant and in the open. I know of some cafes and hotels where Indians are not permitted to enter and are refused service. This is an illustration of outright discrimination. In practically every fish cannery on the coast of British Columbia there are two lavatories, one for Indians and one for so-called whites or non-Indians and you do not dare enter the one that was not constructed for use by the particular race to which you belong. Trivial as the latter example may appear to some, it serves to underline the fact that discrimination does exist against our native Indian people simply because they are Indians. This situation will deteriorate and worsen unless a definite effort is made to eradicate it through an enlightened approach in one generation. In effect we must encourage the Indian people to help themselves, raise themselves by their own bootstraps, by giving them every possible help in so doing, but if we continue to rely on evolution and time to correct the situation, 60 or 70 years more will pass by and conditions will not have improved.
Another complaint I wish to lodge on behalf of many Indians concerns the rations of foodstuff given to native Indian people when they become unemployed and indigent. I propose to read into the record a list of rations of foodstuff provided to indigent Indians as direct food relief. I do not know how widespread is the knowledge of such lists but I am sure many people will be shocked. We should be ashamed of ourselves that such ration lists exist and that such meagre amounts of food are provided to these people to attempt to live on. Perhaps I could more properly say to let them starve on. The following is a ration list for one adult for the period of one full month. I will also indicate the value of each commodity in terms of dollars, the price at which each commodity sells in the area where I compiled these figures. Under this list an adult is given 24 pounds of flour, vitamin B enriched, valued at $1.92. I remind hon. gentlemen that this ration is for a month. He is given six pounds of rolled oats valued at 72 cents; one pound of baking powder valued at 44 cents a pound; one pound of tea valued at $1.32; two pounds of sugar valued at 30 cents; three pounds of lard valued at 96 cents; five pounds of beans valued at 95 cents; two pounds of rice
valued at 38 cents or potatoes up to an equivalent value; one pound of cheese valued at 65 cents; meat or fish to the value of $2.50; salt to the value of 23 cents and matches to the value of ten cents. Thank goodness they are given something with which to light a fire. Hon. gentlemen will observe that there is no mention of fresh fruit or vegetables and no mention of butter. One pint of milk or its equivalent in evaporated or powder form is allowed each day for every child of an Indian family who is 12 years of age or under.
As a Canadian and as a member of this house I am deeply ashamed of this list. This is all that is given to unfortunate native Indian people in the hope that they will be able to exist on these rations. But that is not all. This is a guide, and substitutes can be made on location by the Indian superintendent, depending on what supplies he is able to obtain. Here is another item of interest. Where the Indian family or individual can provide items of country food or farm products the scale of relief is adjusted accordingly. If an Indian catches a salmon presumably he will not receive fish or meat to the value of $2.50 for the period of a month. If he runs out of salmon I imagine he must rely on his ability to catch rabbits, moose, deer or something else.
I sincerely hope that some definite action will be taken in this regard. Many Indians, even if they were able to find employment, are denied the employment that is available to non-Indians. Because of the fact that in many places the Indians have made their livelihood fishing and hunting, they are confined to working in the fishing or lumbering industry, on farms, fruit picking, apple or hop picking or work of a similar nature. Their employment opportunities are severely limited.
This is what we say we will give these Indians. When they get hard up and cannot find any work we will give them $10.47 cents worth of food per adult per month. What would $10.47 do in your household or in my household? Perhaps I should get my wife here and she would be able to tell you more about it, probably in unparliamentary terms, which was the way in which she expressed herself when I told her about the existence of this particular situation.
I would like to hear the opinion and the attitude of the minister as to extensively revising this paltry list of foodstuffs for indigent Indians. I have some other matters in my mind, Mr. Chairman, and probably when we deal in detail with the estimates of the Indian affairs branch we could properly deal with specific points. I just bring these two matters to the attention of the minister and I hope he will undertake to
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give us his present attitude and the opinions of himself and his department with respect to them.
Before this item is passed, it will be recalled that the last time the estimates were before us I had begun to make a few general observations about Indian affairs. There are one or two things I would like to add and I believe I was in the middle of a sentence about the franchise. I would like to complete that sentence. I think the time has come, in fact I thought the time had come from the date when I became minister, when the Indians should have the franchise and it would certainly have been my intention, had I remained in the department, to press my colleagues as strongly as possible to make the proper arrangements, without any delay.
I know, however, that there is a big problem with respect to the exemption from income tax for Indians on reserves. This is an awkward problem which has to be solved. It is not a right of the Indians; it just happens to be a provision of the Income Tax Act. I am not going to suggest any solution at this time but I do agree it is a problem. My experience of three years in the department was that the attitude toward the Indians in those provinces where a provincial franchise existed was quite different from the attitude in those provinces where it did not exist, and it was very much better. I feel the same would be true if they had the federal franchise.
If the hon. gentleman had listened to me from the beginning of my remarks perhaps he would know what I have in mind. This is a real problem-just as there was a problem which in fact ended the first British empire. Members will understand that I refer to the cry of "no taxation without representation". There is a problem here of representation without taxation, and there must be an element of fairness on both sides. In respect of what the hon. member for Skeena said in his speech, with which perhaps some hon. members will be surprised to hear I agree-at least I agreed with about half-
I did quite a little bit about these things although I did not, I confess, do
nearly as much as my predecessor, Mr. Harris, had done. However, it is one of those things about which I do want to make some observations.
I could not agree more completely with what the hon. member for Skeena had to say about the matter of education. There is no question whatsoever that the faster we can get the Indians into the same schools as the non-Indian children, the better. There is no doubt that even when Indian children spend three or four years in a segregated school they do tend to go to the non-segregated school with an inferiority complex which is very hard to overcome. This problem is by no means easy to solve; it requires adult education on both sides. I know from my experience in the department that on the several occasions when we tried to encourage the integration of schools it was not always the Indians who resisted and I do not believe that anything is going to be accomplished-
I think the hon. gentleman can draw the inference from what I have said. He can subtract just as well as I can. The difficulty is, as the hon. member for Skeena so rightly said, there is still a good deal of prejudice and desire for segregation in the communities, there is a feeling in favour of or in support of segregation on both sides. This is not something which can be legislated out of existence and I am sure the hon. member will agree with me on that point. It is a matter of changing people's attitudes and I do not think it is possible to force the pace in these matters. I think the department should go just as fast as it can carry public opinion with it and should do everything it can to educate the Indians and to educate those in other communities in this direction.
As a matter of fact ever since the passing of the Indian Act of 1951 that is precisely what the department has been doing and, of course, you would expect me to say this, Mr. Chairman; but I dissent from what the hon. gentleman said about red tape. I know there were a lot of very complicated matters before officials, and I could not agree more about the fact that some were unnecessarily complicated. I am not one of those people who are very patient about delays, and I used to be impatient about some of these delays. I have now, however, become a student of the law and it is my experience that when you get into legal disputes it is often not really very fair to blame civil servants.
I would not have dared to say that a year ago, and the acting minister is also the Minister of Justice and he will no doubt rebuke me later on for having said it, but I do believe that some of these matters are intrinsically difficult. However, I do not think, taken by and large, there are any more devoted people in this country than the people engaged in the education of the Indians. No doubt, as in any other group of teachers, there are some poor ones amongst them, but for the most part they are good and devoted teachers.
I think most of them, furthermore, would agree that even if it meant disturbing the tenor of their own lives it would be better to have these Indian children educated and brought up with other children wherever it is physically possible and wherever the environment can be made satisfactory.
I think it is also terribly important, particularly in the case of children in residential schools, many of whom come from broken homes and have no one to look after them on the reserve to whom they might return, to consider this aspect of the matter. One of the most tragic things about this matter is that these children are educated to the age of 15 or 16 years and then they go back to the reserve where there is no future for them. That is one gap of which we were very conscious in the department and which we were seeking to do something about.
This brings me to another subject about which I would like to say a few words. Several years ago a gentleman who was formerly private secretary to the leader of the opposition was given a post in the Indian affairs branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration at the time when my predecessor was the minister. This gentleman was given the special responsibility of doing exactly what the hon. member for Skeena said ought to be done, namely the responsibility of seeking to place Indians in a position where they could live as other people, where they could earn as other people and where they would be accepted in ordinary employment. He did a wonderful job and I have nothing but praise for what he did. He had a great deal of initiative and whenever he heard of any new development anywhere adjacent to Indian reserves or in the north country he was there, on the spot, trying to interest employers in giving the Indians the first preference and giving them a start. A number of most useful developments were started, although I am not going to take the time of the committee to describe them now.
It so happens that, because of a change in the wheel of political fortune, that gentleman is now otherwise occupied. I do not know that I would say he is as well occupied
now as he was when he was in the department. But even though he is not occupied at the present time in seeking to advance my political fortunes, I am perfectly certain that he is doing a good job wherever he is.
I want to say, sir, that I do hope sincerely the minister will see to it, now that Mr. Jack-I might just as well mention his name -is no longer with the department, the work he was doing is being followed up by someone else and that the best person possible will be secured for that job.
Next to education the most important task of the department is to help the Indians to get into the stream of employment, to help them to live as other people in an ordinary way and gradually to get rid of segregation.
I could not agree more heartily with anything that has been said in the house this session than with what the hon. member for Skeena said about that. I think it is the moral duty of all Canadians to do everything they can, while respecting the rights of these people to their reserves and every other right they have and while doing nothing to force this development, to give the Indians the feeling that they are going to have a better life in the ordinary world with the rest of us.
This is something that a government cannot do alone but it is something with respect to which a government can give a lead. It is something with respect to which every member of parliament can give a lead. The hon. member for Skeena is a new member of the house and I do not suppose he and I would agree about everything. Perhaps there are many things we would not agree about but there are some things on which I think we do agree and certainly believe he made a very valuable contribution to the debate this afternoon. Although some of the things he said may have been a reflection upon my administration of the department, I will leave the defence of the department to my successor and with a good deal of confidence, too.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a few words in support of the very fine arguments and recommendations put before the house a few moments ago by the hon. member for Skeena. First of all may I say that I do not think there is much to be gained by indulging in recriminations, or in attempting to assess the blame on any group of individuals, any individual or even any government. Rather, I think that every citizen must accept responsibility for the very deplorable situation and attempt to find some solution to this most vexing problem. Certainly the former government was not blameless, but unfortunately governments do not move as rapidly as they should unless there is an aroused public opinion. Therefore, I think that we in this parliament must
approach the problem from a moral, social and scientific point of view, free from political bickering and at all costs we should avoid making the problem a political football if we are to get the support of every socially minded person in the country in an effort to convince the government that they will have the support of every citizen in finding a'solution to the problem.
It is estimated that when the white man first came to this country there were about
200,000 Indians. Their population decreased to approximately 90,000. However, at the present time, because of increased medical services and so forth, their population has risen to approximately 160,000. If there ever was any thought at any time that the Indian problem would solve itself by some sort of dying out process that certainly has not materialized and the problem has become more acute as the population has increased.
Certainly integration seems to be the solution to the whole problem. Yet we cannot bring about integration by trying to force these people to accept the philosophy of the dominant group. We have to use some other method and bring it about by some other approach. But I believe that by wise leadership, tolerance, understanding and rebuilding the confidence they have lost we can persuade them to integrate into the general society.
One thing I am sure of is that public morality will not permit for very much longer the deplorable situation facing us today so far as the Indian problem is concerned. I think it is a disgrace to force Indians to live in segragation on reservations which in effect are only islands of isolation. We know that every day outraged citizens throughout the country are bringing this situation to the attention of socially minded organizations and governments everywhere. Certain things have been done, but we still maintain the reserve system. As a matter of fact, I believe it was only a year or two ago that there was some attempt in the department to establish another reserve in the northern part of Saskatchewan.
In my part of the country we have three reserves. In 1940 there were 720 people living on those reservations but by 1954 the population had increased to 1,143. The projected figure for 1965 is 1,700. In 1954 the department divided the acreage on these three reserves among the 1,143 existing Indians and came up with a figure of 29 acres per Indian. Anyone who has attempted to carry on a farming operation in western Canada knows that it is absolutely impossible to expect anyone to try to earn a livelihood from 29 acres.
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It is not the case that some of these reserves have a shortage of land. As a matter of fact, on the Fort a la Come Indian reserve bordering my constituency many thousands of acres were rented to white settlers. It seemed a very strange thing to me that the Indian department would see fit to lease that land, badly needed by the Indians, to white settlers on a share the crop basis. This resulted in the Indians sitting around and watching the white men work their lands and receiving a small pittance as their share. I hope the minister will see that that situation comes to an end.
So far as education is concerned, I am going to say quite frankly that in the main, up until recently, the church organizations have taken the lead in providing the basic academic education in this field. Certainly, they have done a marvellous job up to a point. However, the educational facilities needed in this modern world cannot be provided by these so-called voluntary organizations. We must do something more in that line. I agree wholeheartedly with what has been said regarding residential schools. They are just a means of continuing segregation. Between 80 per cent and 85 per cent of the inmates of the women's jail in Prince Albert are Indian women, and this is a direct result of the policy of segregation. These girls are raised on a reserve segregated from white children. Then, they go to these residential schools and that is a continuation of segregation in their formative years. They get such an inferiority complex that later on it is almost impossible for them to integrate with the white population. After school they come back to the reserve and are dissatisfied with conditions there. They drift into the towns and cities and end up in an institution of one kind or another. We must institute a program of technical training in the public schools which will enable the Indian to cope with the problems of integration.
I must agree with what has been said by the hon. member for Skeena when he suggested that there must be a new and positive approach. First of all, I would suggest that the administration of Indian affairs be turned over to the provinces. I do not mean to suggest that the federal government should be relieved of its responsibilities, but I do believe the provinces are in a much better position to administer Indian problems than is the federal department. I think it is important that we start immediately to develop some comprehensive research program in order to ascertain how we should go about this problem of integration. The research program should take the form of
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration finding out what alternative lines of development are open to the Indians in the different provinces in order that integration may be defined and a realistic program produced. Secondly, I believe such a research program will provide us with a source of factual information so necessary for the successful achievement of this objective.
The information to which I refer might fall into two categories: first, legal and administrative to improve the existing service both federal and provincial; second, and possibly much more important, would be sociological data concerning Indian life. We must get to know the Indian better if we are to lay a basis for his acceptance of an integration program. We must gain his confidence. It was for this reason I said I was so happy this afternoon to welcome the bill which was passed today. This will be one way in which the confidence of the Indian population will be built up. We must consult them and we must gain their confidence if we expect them to accept the necessary changes in their present status to achieve integration.
In spite of the assurances given under the British North America Act, the Indian has been exploited in a most disgraceful manner. One of the best examples of how we have destroyed the confidence of the Indian is contained in a directive from the Department of National Health and Welfare issued on January 31, 1957, and which was sent, I presume, to all the bands on the reservations, certainly in the province of Saskatchewan and I imagine in other provinces as well. 1 should like to read from this directive:
Since the funds at the disposal of the Indian and northern health services are limited, the Indian people who can pay should pay for their transportation, medical care, hospitalization, drugs, glasses and dental care. Those who cannot pay the full amount should contribute at least a part of the cost of these services.
When an individual is not able to pay for these services, he should contact the representative of Indian and northern health services so that appropriate arrangements can be made to assist him.
This applies also to those living of! the reserves. Then, the directive goes on:
Those people who have disassociated themselves from the Indian way of life should cease to be a charge against Indian and northern health services. In other words, those Indians who have lived off the reserve for a period of over 12 months are considered to be making an adequate income, and thus should be responsible for providing for their own medical care.
If he is a taxpayer in the community for a 12-month period, the individual becomes the responsibility of the municipality in which he resides, if he is not able to provide for himself for some reason. People who have lived off the reserve for this period should take out Saskatchewan hospital services plan insurance for themselves and their families. Eventually all those who are able to pay, and/or those who live off the reserve will receive
notification that acceptability for medical attention through Indian and northern health services has ceased and that they will be responsible for all their medical care.
I suggest, Mr. Chairman, we are not going to build up the confidence of our Indians by reneging on some of the commitments and promises that have been made in the past. Our northern Indians present, of course, a special problem. We have not got the problem of reservations, and possibly the problem of the northern Indian will not be as difficult to solve as the problem of the Indian farther south. Again, however, it is a question of education. If we are going to solve this problem we shall have to initiate the type of educational system that is going to enable these Indians to fit themselves for the many job opportunities that resources development in that area provides.
Let me reiterate what I have been saying. First, I think we should undertake a comprehensive research program. It must be undertaken in order that we may lay the groundwork for a realistic program aimed towards integration, and the administration of that integration program must be in the hands of the provinces rather than federal authorities working at a remote distance from the problem. I believe that such a positive approach will result in a solution to these very vexing problems.
I have noticed that hon. members seem to be dealing now exclusively with Indian affairs. If the general remarks about departmental administration have been completed, perhaps I might reply to the general suggestions that have been made. Then we could raise further matters of specific interest under the different branches, the items for which follow later. If there are no further general comments to be made, perhaps I might do that.