Mr. Chairman, I was very
interested in the remarks made by the hon. member for Selkirk with regard to item No. 72 of the estimates of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. The hon. gentleman raised one or two questions which give me some concern in my own riding where there are several Indian bands in the region. The remarks he made with regard to hospitalization are highly applicable in my own riding as well, and I shall not devote any time to discussing that subject.
However, in discussing the first item yesterday two questions were raised which also are of concern to me, and before dealing with the main topic I wish to speak about I propose to deal with these questions. I am thinking now of the question of Indian leases, especially for tracts of land that are adjacent to the larger cities. In my area one band gave a 20-year lease to a group of contractors who are building summer huts that are not in keeping with the standard of the homes that others in the community have built.
The result is that some difficulty has been created, and the municipal authorities are unhappy about the present state of affairs. They inquire what could be done to bring these temporary homes on the Indian lands more in keeping with the homes built in the summer resort area, homes which have been built to last for a long period of time. Some very fine homes have been constructed, but those on the Indian property are, of course, by no means up to this standard and the situation is causing some concern to the municipal authorities.
Another question I wish to raise has to do with the amount paid by the department to local school boards for educating Indians in their areas. I understand the minister will be dealing with this question later. In particular I am interested in knowing how much the provincial government of British Columbia is to receive in compensation for the sums it expends to help keep these schools
in operation. I understand that my province carries more than its share of the task of supporting these local operations, and I am interested in learning what share the province can expect from the Indian affairs branch toward defraying the cost of educating the Indian children of the community.
My main purpose in rising at this time is to draw the minister's attention to a difficulty which has been created as a direct result of the action of his colleague the Minister of Fisheries in preventing fishing between Pattullo bridge, or New Westminster bridge, and Mission bridge. For centuries the Indians have fished these waters for commercial purposes, but three or four years ago the Minister of Fisheries saw fit to change the regulations so as to make it illegal for any commercial fishing to be done in the area I have mentioned.
This has caused the Langley band, in particular, a great deal of difficulty. I realize there are not many Indians in the band, but those who are in it use gill net boats and find themselves being forced out to sea if they wish to do any commercial fishing to get the money necessary for their livelihood. The difficulty is not that they are prevented from catching enough fish for domestic purposes; they are permitted to do that. But they require cash, as does every other individual, in order to carry on, and they are very concerned about the fact that during the season when they would normally be fishing on a commercial basis in their own area they are not permitted to do so.
The question of reopening this area to commercial fishing is being considered at the present time by the Department of Fisheries, but I understand the Indian affairs branch has not been consulted in this matter. I suggest to the minister and to his departmental officials that they should make some inquiries with regard to the difficulties which the Langley Indians are experiencing in order to discover what effect, if any, it would have on the livelihood of these people if the river were reopened to this band. I urge the minister to make representations to his colleague if, after discussion with the Indians, he finds that such a move would be of value to them. The privilege of fishing these waters has been denied to them only in recent times, and their views with regard to the reopening of these waters for commercial fishing should be taken into consideration.
I do not think their request is unreasonable. They ask only that they should be permitted to fish at the same time as the seiners are catching fish out in the bay. They feel they should have the right to take some of the
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration fish without being obliged to go out to sea, a way of fishing which would require much better and more seaworthy vessels than this band possesses, and which would involve them in an expense too great for them to meet.
The officials of the Department of Fisheries suggest that this is a question of conservation. I have discussed this matter with the Indians and they have assured me that at no time have they ever interfered with the requirements of the international sockeye salmon commission which has been in charge of conservation arrangements. They gave the commission no difficulty, neither did the commission cause the Indians any difficulty. The Indians are law-abiding and they respect the need to preserve the fishery, knowing this is necessary if they are to enjoy it in future years. They are quite prepared to accept the idea of conservation, but I wonder whether the minister could not persuade the Department of Fisheries to take another look at this matter and give these Indians the consideration for which they are asking.
Subtopic: REQUEST FOR CONTINUATION OF BRANCH LINE PASSENGER SERVICE