Yes, so I understand. The great majority of the lands which were granted to these people of mixed Indian blood found their way into the hands of white men chiefly for very small payments, whisky or something of that sort. As a result of the recognition of the fact that the idea of scrip. was a fiasco, an order in council was passed in 1901 which returned to Indian status any person whom the Indians of a particular band were willing to have back in the band, whether or not he had taken scrip.
That should have cleared the entire issue, and there should be no effort at this time to expel persons who have been on reservations since that time and have enjoyed Indian status. Their position should certainly be clear, but under the amendments made to the Indian Act in 1951 that is not the case. The action that was taken in 1901 to reinstate people with Indian status whether or not they had taken scrip is now being overturned
The Address-Mr. Harkness and negatived, by the amendments made to the act in 1951. As has been well said, the sins-if they were sins-of the father are being visited on the children even unto the third and fourth generation.
The whole matter of scrip is one which at the present time is practically incapable of proof. Not one in a thousand or ten thousand of these people could read and write; therefore the scrip certificates bore nothing more than an X and a man's name. Many of these people of mixed blood and many Indians had two or three Indian names; some of them were possibly known by two or three different names which various white settlers had given to them. Now at this stage of the game, some 60 years later, it is virtually impossible to prove definitely that a man whose name is Johnson had an ancestor by the name of Johnny Johnson who took scrip. Nevertheless on extremely flimsy ground and the allegation that their ancestors took scrip, these people are being expelled.
The minister said this morning when he was answering certain questions with regard to this matter that he hoped the people concerned would appeal. He did not say in what way he hoped the appeal would turn out, and I would be inclined to suspect that he would hope the appeal would go against them. Thus he would have the excuse of a court decision for not taking any action in connection with these Indians.
In any event I can assure him that an appeal will be lodged. As a matter of fact funds are now being raised among certain white people and various Indian bands in order to finance the cost of an appeal. One reason an appeal was not launched sooner, as I think the minister well knows, is that requests had been made to him to make government or Indian band funds available to finance this appeal. This request was refused, and as a result this general appeal for funds is now proceeding. As a result of this an appeal will be launched.
I might say, however, that in view of the amendments that were made to the Indian Act last year the position of this appeal becomes much more difficult than previously was the case. Last year section 9 of the Indian Act was amended. This section is the part of the act which defines what an Indian is, and it was amended by adding the following as subsection 6:
Where a decision of the registrar has been referred to a judge for review under this section, the burden of establishing that the decision of the registrar is erroneous is on the person who requested that the decision be so referred.
In other words the onus of proof is placed on the Indian, who has practically no means
The Address-Mr. Harkness at his disposal to refute the allegation. For example, how can an Indian prove that his grandfather was not a white man, or that he did not have some white blood in him? How can he prove that his grandfather did not accept scrip, when all this confusion exists concerning the matter? Instead of the onus being placed on the department to prove that the person concerned is not an Indian, this amendment to the act places that onus on the poor Indian, who has little or no means of determining the facts. The position of the person being expelled from the reserve is rendered that much more difficult, and it is practically impossible for him to establish his case when it is taken on appeal to the district court.
As I said earlier, a great deal of public concern and indignation has been stirred up over this Hobbema case in the province of Alberta. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and other members of the government have received numerous letters of protest and petitions signed by members of church groups, farm unions and other organizations requesting that immediate action be taken to amend the Indian Act by deleting the present section dealing with the definition of an Indian, and preventing this apparent injustice taking place.
As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration indicated this morning, both he and his government have refused to take any action whatever. They seem content to continue following the so-called policy of integration, which apparently was decided on when the present Minister of Finance was the minister of this department. In effect it amounts to a policy of getting rid of as many people as possible from the Indian reserves, no matter what the consequences may be to the individuals concerned in terms of suffering and hardship.
The widespread indignation aroused by this particular case is reflected in many articles and editorials in the Calgary newspapers. The Calgary Herald during the past week has had a series of front page articles dealing with this matter, from one of which I have quoted. These have served to apprise the general public of what was happening, and as a result more and more letters are pouring in to me and I am sure to the government asking that we prevent this completely unjustified action from taking place.
In addition the Calgary Albertan, which has been a steady and strong supporter of the federal Liberal government and party ever since I can remember, had an extremely strong editorial on the matter in its issue of
Thursday, December 27, 1956. This was entitled "The Beam in Thine Own Eye" and reads:
Canadians are given to righteous condemnation of racial persecution, particularly of the negro, as it happens in the southern United States and in South Africa. They continually thank God that they are not as other people, given to discrimination against human beings because of accident of birth or colour of skin.
In this editorial we intend to show that Canadians in fact do discriminate, not only in their actions but in their laws, against a racial minority in their midst, and in a most brutal and unjustified manner which is different only in degree from that in South Africa.
This long editorial goes on to outline the apartheid policy in South Africa and points out that we have the same thing, perhaps to a lesser degree, in Canada as far as the treatment of Indians on reserves are concerned, particularly the Hobbema Indians. The editorial then continues:
Now look at Canada.
Late in the last century the Queen, through her Canadian government, entered into solemn treaty with the plains Indians. They surrendered their claims to this land, and in return she promised them that they and their heirs could live for all time on certain reserves and would receive certain annual benefits.
As in South Africa, there had been considerable mixing of the races, and there was a sizeable metis or mixed blood population. As usually happens, the proud whites tended to ostracize these halfbreeds but the Indians took them in.
They go on to point out that even if the ancestors of the people concerned were in this class, the people of Canada still have a responsibility toward them. Certainly as far as the treaties entered into with the Indians are concerned, they say those people shall be considered as Indians who have followed the Indian way of life. These people, even if they took scrip, whether or not they are of mixed blood, are entitled to be considered as Indians, and in fact have been considered as Indians for some 60 years. Now they are told they are not Indians and have to leave the only life they know, the only homes they have. They must give up the equity they have in their reserve which now amounts to a considerable figure. The editorial then ends up by saying:
The Queen has broken her word given in solemn treaty. The Canadian government, instead of implementing constructive policies for the gradual emancipation of the Indians so they can take an honourable place in Canadian society, has a policy only of inspecting their ancestors for traces of illegitimacy, "white blood" or scrip, and then visiting its punishment on the third and fourth generation.
Have Canadians a right to condemn what is going on in South Africa? Certainly they have, because it is wrong. Wrong should always be condemned, even at home.
It would be bad if the welfare of Canada's Indians became a subject of political controversy. Yet the Liberal government's brutal attitude, its
inability to appreciate and respect the public conscience in this matter, is one of those things which may incline some people to wonder whether it is not time for a change.
That is not a Conservative paper; that is a strong Liberal paper which speaks, I think very accurately, for the people of Alberta. They use the word "brutal" which I do not think is too strong a word to use; I think it is the right word. The treatment being given these people is brutal, it is inhuman, and it is the responsibility of the government to see that it is not continued. I call upon the government to cease immediately these expulsions and to provide amendments to the Indian Act at this present session to ensure that this state of affairs will end and that expulsions of this sort cannot and will not take place in the future.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY