White Paper on Indian Policy

1950s-1960s Aboriginal Issues
• Terms:
• Indian Act, 1951
• Inukjuak, QC
• James Gladstone
• Enfranchisement
• Residential Schools
• Ministry of Children and Family Development
• 60’s Scoop
• Pierre Trudeau
• Jean Chretien
• White Paper, 1969
• Red Paper
• “Unjust Society”
Inukjuak, QC
 Inukjuak, 1920
• 1950, 1 year
before relocation
Inukjuak, QC
• Relocation of aboriginal peoples
is an ongoing issue.
• Due to the food shortages in the
area, families from the Port
Harrison/Inukjuak region were
offered relocation to the high
arctic region of Resolute Bay
• The government, concerned with
the Soviet Union’s interest in the
Arctic, wished to ‘stake a claim’
by claiming to have residents of
Canada living in this remote
Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord
• Residents remember being left at the start of the “Long Days of
night”: 4 months without sun
• Left without supplies, forced to hunt in unfamiliar territories
• Government promised to relocate those who wished to return.
• Never did…
• 1989, government created a program to relocate descendants who
wished to return
• 1996 in response to lawsuits from early 80s, offered cash
compensation to survivors, but did not apologize
Aboriginal Peoples Challenge the System
• Heartened by their participation in WWII, Aboriginal
People began to challenge the restrictions of the Indian Act
and the assimilative aims of the residential schools.
• Aboriginal people were pushing for a recognition of their
unique group rights within Canada.
• This approach was at odds with the individual rights
orientation that was becoming dominant in Canada at the
• The Indian Act continued to have discriminatory provisions:
• - land claims cases could not be launched without the
permission of the superintendent of Indian Affairs
- Aboriginal people could not vote without giving up
their Indian status
• Those who gave up their status could not function well in
either the reserve community or mainstream society.
James Gladstone
• Gladstone (Cree/Scots) came
from NWT but was active in
• He was a successful farmer
before becoming an effective
leader of the Indian
Association of Alberta.
• The IAA lobbied provincial
and federal governments as
well as tried to raise public
support for Aboriginal issues.
• Gladstone participated in the
changes made to reduce the
restrictions in the Indian Act
in the 1940s/1950s.
Indian Act, 1951
• Despite this work, the 1951 Indian Act was still unjust:
Aboriginal people were not allowed to drink alcohol
BUT allowed to now to pubs or pool halls for gabling
They could not subdivide their reserve lands
They could not vote in federal elections.
Now could appear off reserve in ceremonial garb without Indian agent permission
Potlatch ban lifted, cultural practices no longer banned
Could hire Lawyers to pursue claims
• Gladstone was appointed by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1958
and became Canada’s first Senator of Aboriginal descent.
• Gladstone was a reformer who emphasized individual efforts over
collective efforts.
• He participated in the fight for better rights regarding education, band
administration, and honouring the treaties as well as the eventual
victory of receiving the federal vote in 1960.
• After WWII, Aboriginal peoples formed many regional, provincial and traditional
bodies and they succeeded in having many of the worst parts of the Indian act
• For example, during the 1950s bands gained the right to administer their own
• By 1960, status Indians were allowed to vote in federal elections.
• The National Indian Brotherhood was formed in 1968 to advocate for status
Indians (now the Assembly of First Nations).
• The Native Council of Canada was formed to advocate for non-status Indians and
the Metis (now the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples).
Residential Schools
• 3 Goals:
• 1) Abolition of
aboriginal culture
• 2) Instilling
“British values”
into aboriginal
people through
• 3) Extinguishment
of Title through
cultural extinction
and status loss
Residential Schools
• Residential Schools
were often operated by
Churches on behalf of
the government
• Suffered from critically
low funding, resulting
in a need for student
labour to operate the
• Students in many
schools cleaned
laundry, grew crops to
feed the students,
conducted repairs.
“Skippers” in
Port Alberni
• Due to funding and curriculum choices, students were prepared for wage
labour roles
• Boys for manual labour (Farm hand, cleaners, construction basic labour)
• Girls for domestic work (Cleaning, cooking, sewing)
• In 1930, 3/100 students passed beyond a grade 6 reading level
• Many students left unable to function in either off reserve or on reserve
Cultural Extermination
• Residential schools were in many cases
boarding school style
• Students lived at school for the year, returned
during summer
• Boys hair sheered short
• Children often punished for speaking native
• Corporal punishments included belts, paddles,
other instruments
• Reports of needles through tongues for
speaking native languages
• Home made ‘electric chairs’ in northern Ontario
• Emotional, psychological and sexual abuse
common among all ages and genders
• Often told their parents don’t really love them,
inferior and dumb for their ‘backwards beliefs’
Challenging Residential Schools
• During the post–war period Aboriginal
peoples also focused on resolving the
issue of residential schools.
• The quality of education was poor,
diseases and infections resulted form
overcrowding, physical and sexual abuse
were commonplace, and the destruction
of traditional languages, culture and
spirituality were seen as objectionable.
• In 1951, attendance was no longer
compulsory under the Indian Act.
• In 1968, the federal government ended
partnership with religious organizations
in running the schools.
• By the 1990’s the last of the residential
schools had been closed.
Chain of Culture, Inverted
• Psychological effects from attending residential school had profound
impacts on aboriginal communities
• Breaking of chain of memory: culture was denigrated to the point
that children were reluctant or outright hostile to aboriginal culture
• Disconnected from parents, children in many cases repeated abuse
done unto them by residential school workers, understanding this
‘discipline’ as normal
• Poor education meant that residential school attendees were unable
to gain meaningful employment, perpetuating poverty.
• Alcoholism and substance abuse are common factors
Remove Children
from their family,
culture and support
• Send the children
home to parents
who were taught
the same unhealthy
Shame, punish and abuse
helpless children
Disrupt cultural, spiritual,
coping and healing
60’s Scoop
• Coined by Patrick Johnson as part of his report “Native Children and the Child Wellfare
• As a result of trauma from Residential schools, as well as general poverty on
reserves, lack of education, governments saw aboriginal peoples as “childlike creatures in constant need of the paternal care of the government. With
guidance, they would gradually abandon their superstitious beliefs and
barbaric behaviour and adopt civilization”
• Refers to the abnormal number of children seized by government ministries
• Most cases this involves no consent on the part of parents, and children
were adopted out.
• Currently in BC, children in the care of the Ministry of Children and Families
maintains a Foster Care system; children are cared for by other families, but
parents always have the right to petition for the return of children based on
ability to care
• At this time, adoption meant permanent fostering. Parents lose rights to
children forever.
“Duty of Care”
• In the 1960s, the child welfare system did not require, nor did it expect, social workers to have specific
training in dealing with children in Aboriginal communities.
• For example, when social workers entered the homes of families subsisting on a traditional Aboriginal diet
of dried game, fish, and berries, and didn’t see fridges or cupboards stocked in typical Euro-Canadian
fashion, they assumed that the adults in the home were not providing for their children.
• Additionally, substance abuse arising from parents trauma through residential school only added to the case
that parents were unfit to care.
• In some cases, this resulted in “scooping” all new born children from reserves (Johnson, 2005)
• 1959: 3% of children in care were aboriginal
• 1969: 30-40%
Issue of Adoption
• Aboriginal children were encouraged to adopt the behavior of their
Anglo-Canadian parents
• With racial issues, certain things cannot be changed; created
psychological trauma being ‘caught between 2 worlds’
• Under article 2(e) of the U.N. Convention on Genocide (1948),
“forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”
constitutes genocide when the intent is to destroy a culture
Then Current and future PMs
1960- Age of Rights
• Faced with inequality, governments
wished to address the issues facing
aboriginal peoples
• Pierre Trudeau: PM 1968-1984 (18
• Proponent of Canada as a “Multicultural
• Abolished the death penalty
• Amended the criminal code
decriminalizing homosexual behavior
• “The State has no place in the bedrooms
of the nation”
• Government implemented universal
health care
• First western leader to visit China and
Cuba (During the cold war!)
• PM during the Quebec Crisis:
• Declared Martial Law to round up the
FLQ after politicians were kidnapped
and killed
The White Paper (1969)
• A White paper is a government policy paper issued after research
into a particular matter
• States an official government policy.
• Inspired by his vision of a “just society” where all Canadians would
be equal, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau introduced the White
Paper on Indian Policy in 1969.
• Proposed:
• Abolition of the Indian Act
• Dismantle the Department of Indian Affairs
• Removal of all Status for Aboriginal Peoples
• Equal rights and privileges to all Canadians
• No further treaties will be signed. All existing lands will be
transferred to aboriginal control.
• Individual issues will be dealt with at a provincial level
• Argument: aboriginal peoples will be better off once they assimilate
completely. Being “Native-Canadian” rather like a ‘Scottish-Canadian’.
• Aboriginal peoples responded to the White Paper with outrage.
• Harold Cardinal, the young leader of the National Indian
Brotherhood, described it as assimilation by another name.
• Cardinal helped in presenting the Aboriginal response called the Red
Paper and also wrote the influential book ‘The Unjust Society”
• The White Paper galvanized Aboriginal people across Canada and as a
result of their protests, the White Paper was withdrawn in 1970.
The “Red Paper”
• Written in response
• The legislature and constitutional basis of Indian status and rights should be maintained
until Aboriginals are prepared and willing to renegotiate them.
• The only way to maintain Indian culture is remain as Indians.
• Aboriginals already have access to the same services as other Canadians, plus additional
rights and privileges that were established by the British North America Act, various
treaties and governmental legislation.
• Only Aboriginals and Aboriginal organizations should be given the resources and
responsibility to determine their own priorities and future development lines. The
federal government has a distorted view of treaty rights and is not to be trusted on this
Developments in the North in the
• In the 1970s, with the development
of more effective political
organizations, Aboriginal peoples
began to make their voices heard.
• The Cree and Inuit of northern
Quebec succeeded in delaying a
massive Hydro development project.
• The resulting James Bay and Northern
Quebec Agreement granted $232.5
million over 20 years, special
economic assistance, ownership of
5500 square km of land, hunting and
fishing rights over 129,500 sq km of
land, and a veto over mineral
resource development.
• While the James Bay Agreement was
viewed as a victory, there have
subsequently been negative impacts
on the environment and the lives of
Aboriginal people.
Red Power in Canada
• Many Aboriginal people were inspired by the militancy and activism of the Black Power and
Red Power movements in the USA during the late 1960s.
• Anna Mae Aquash, for example, was a Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia who moved to the US to
participate in the activities of the American Indian Movement (AIM).
• In 1974, 30 members of the Ojibway Warriors and AIM occupied Anicinabe Park in Kenora,
ON to protest against ongoing issues of poverty, land claims and the mercury poisoning of
• 1974 also saw the Native Peoples’ Caravan head to Ottawa to demand more rights for
Aboriginal peoples.
• Caravan members were met and assaulted by the RCMP’s brand new riot squad. It was
indicative of a new era of confrontation.

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