April 14, 1910

CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

I do not think there is any doubt about that.

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

There is no doubt he said it. Perhaps the facts, although I know mv hon. friend has very little regard for facts

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Order, order.

Mr. OLIVER

perhaps the facts-

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

Mr. Speaker, I appeal to you against language such as this.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I think it is going a little too far.

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Instead of saying that my lion. friend had no regard for facts, I corrected myself by saying he had very little regard for facts.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

I have treated the hon. gentleman fairly, and I expect similar treatment from him.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I think that the expression, ' no regard for facts ' is not parliamentary.

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Mr OLIVER.

We need not interrupt upon these little points of difference; what we want to do is to get at the facts. Now

f.Vip fnp.t.s are-

Mr. BRADBURY Be fair and it will be all right.

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Mr OLIVER.

The facts in regard to this case are all on the table of the House. My hon friend has asked for returns from time to time and every return that he has asked for has been laid on the table. If there is anything more that ne wants he should ask for it. Tf his case, as substantiated by the documents before the House, is not complete it is his fault and not ours. But the case is complete, he has asked for

everything and he has received it. Now, the documents on the table of the House show that the surrender of the lands of the Indians was the result and grew out of the attempt that was being made to secure the rights of whites and half-breeds who held lands individually within the area occupied by the reserve. There was no premeditation in regard to the surrender of the reserve.

May I give an explanation to the House as to the condition of this reserve so as to make it absolutely clear that what I state is the fact and so that the House may draw its own conclusions as to what my hon. friend stated. This reserve is situated on the Red river. The Red river, as the House knows, empties into Lake Winnipeg and the valley of the Red river, being very low, at the entrance of the river into Lake Winnipeg, there is a considerable area of what may be called debatable ground, land which, under certain circumstances, is dry and under other circumstances, wet. Sometimes it is an impassable marsh, and sometimes it is good hay land.

The northern limit of settlement along the valley of the Red river occurs within the limits of this reserve. Let me emphasize the point. The northern limit of settlement in {he valley of the Red river occurs within the limits of the St Peter's Indian reserve From the international boundary to this northern boundary of settlement, along both sides of the river when the transfer from the Hudson Bay Company to Canada occurred, the territory was occupied by settlers to the end of the arable country at the edge of the marsh which forms the southern end of Lake Winnipeg, and one of the first acts ol the Canadian government on taking possession of the country was to cause a survey to these lands in what was called the river settlement extending from the 49th parallel to Lake Winnipeg, and what afterwards became the St. Peter's Indian reserve was surveyed into river lots just the same as all the rest of the valley This was done because it was in the occupation of a settled population whose rights were exactly the same as of all the rest of the people who were settled ahum the Red river. After this river lot survey had been made, a certain portion of the people who occupied these river lots in what is now the reserve, decided that they would, as it is called there, enter the treaty. There was a very large admixture of Indian blood and as also of white blood in the people settled in that area, tout, the Indian blood I presume predominated, and as a result those occupants of these river lots, for one reason or another, whether owing to the predominance of Indian blood or for what other reason I am not here to

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

say, decided that they would enter the treaty and that this portion of the Red river valley surveyed into river settlements should be declared an Indian reserve. But although some of the people who were settled in that area wished to toe classed as Indians there were certain others who did not, who refused to surrender their citizenship and insisted on retaining their individual property as individuals and this they were allowed to do, while the so-called Indians, although they got the benefit of treaty payments, although they had the benefit of the presence of an agent, although in law they , were only Indians, still continued to occupy the same river lots, they and their families, until the recent arrangement was made with them. So that so far from these people toeing Indians in the ordinary sense of the word, or this being an Indian reserve in the ordinary sense of the word, the statement that this was the fact, if my hon. friend made it, was, as I said, an inexactitude. After these people had decided to be classed as Indians, being entitled under the Indian treaty to a larger area of land than was included in the river lots which they occupied, there was set apart as an Indian reserve for their benefit a certain surrounding area of land, making in all some 50,000 acres roughly speaking, which was placed under the jurisdiction of the Indian Department with an agent at Selkirk. This Indian reserve adjoined, either actually or approximately, the- town of Selkirk which had (been founded there, I think I am correct in saying, before this land was set apart as an Indian reserve.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

Is the hon. gentleman aware that the town of Selkirk takes in the first 15 lots of St. Peter's reserve?

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Then my hon. friend and I are in agreement as to the proximity of the town and the reserve. I am glad to find a point of agreement in the remarks I made, although I was not able to find any such point in the remarks of my hon. friend. This area was set apart as an Indian reserve, with all the advantages and all the disabilities of such a reserve, and I need not point out to those members who are familiar with the conditions existing where there is an Indian reserve, near a town that that condition is not good either for the town of Selkirk, or for the Indians occupying the reserve. I need not go into details, every member who knows anything about the circumstances connected with an Indian reserve in proximity to a town knows the facts to be as I have stated. What made the matter worse, however, was that these river lots which had not become part of the Indian reserve, but which were occupied by people, either whites or halfbreeds, who claimed the rights of citizenship, w'ere included in that area, alternat-

ing with the lots that belonged to ordinary Indians, and the result was that there was no possibility of enforcing the liquor law in regard to Indians in that area, because intervening lots that belonged to white people or half-hreeds, were not under the Indian Act, and the fact that they were there, intermingled with the lots which belonged to the Indians, made it a simple, actual, physical impossibility to preserve law and order in all particulars upon that reserve, as it can be preserved on a reserve where there is no such intermingling of private property and band property. Whatever may be the claims of the Indians upon the consideration of the government, I suppose everybody will admit that the people who are not Indians are entitled to consideration, to claim the attention of the government, and so from time to time, from the setting apart of the reserve, complaint was made by citizens who held property within the reserve, who asked title to their property. I shall not take time to explain the conditions that surround the granting of title in such cases, I will only say that there were such difficulties, and that they occurred not in all cases, but in a very considerable number of the cases. From time to time the effort was made by the government of Canada, by commissioners sent there, to secure a settlement as between the Indian band and the individual holders of land within the limits of what is called the St. Peter's reserve. Up to a certain date some 5,000 acres of these private properties had been patented; but there still remained a number of claims that had not been settled, where private owners occupy river lots in the reserve claimed that they were entitled to patents, and the Indian band objected to the patents being granted. It was to secure a settlement of that condition of affairs, to secure the citizens of Canada who own the land within the limits of that reserve their legal title to their own land, that the commission in the person of Chief Justice Howell was appointed. Chief Justice Howell was asked to act as commissioner for the purpose of adjusting the claims of the white and halfbreed occupants of river lots in the St. Peter's reserve.

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CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

May I ask if that was the only object for which he was appointed ?

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

The only object of his appointment is set out in the papers before the House. It is not necessary to question me on these points-the papers are here for hon. members to see for themselves. Do not ask me; do not depend on what I say; go to the record. I am not asking that my word be taken on any of these matters. I am simply placing before the House in brief form the information contained in the papers before the House, brought here at

the request of the hon. member for Selkirk, and in regard to which he should have fully informed himself if he did not.

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CON
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Then my hon. friend should have informed the House.

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CON
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

He took plenty of time. There was no lack of time, whatever other lack there might have been. Chief Justice Howell was given a commission to adjust these claims of the white or half-breed settlers, and when he went there and undertook to get that adjustment, he found the condition to be such as to make it almost impossible for him to secure a settlement that would be mutually satisfactory to the settlers and the Indians, and he then suggested, or the reasons that I have given, that there should be a surrender of the Indian reserve secured.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

Did the suggestion come from Chief Justice Howell to secure that surrender, or from the Minister or the Department ?

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April 14, 1910