Mr. Chairman, I did not catch that remark. If the hon. member wants to repeat it, perhaps I will be able to answer it. Would the hon. member repeat what he said? No answer. We have not had any answers in this house except "in due course" since the start of the session. As I have stated, this was the total amount of food in this house for five people-
"Ha, ha," I hear the Tory members say. Well, this is a serious problem, my boy. This is what these five people had to eat, and that was three hours away from the time for the evening meal. I could go on for another 25 minutes.
On a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman; let me inform the hon. gentleman that I spent three and a half years on an Indian reserve and I know all about the life the Indians have to live and the type of food they were given at that time under a Liberal administration.
I am sure the hon. gentleman was the great white father, but he would not know too much. I shall close my remarks. I had a great deal more to say but since hon. members opposite insist on passing these items without a full discussion I shall take my seat and hope that the estimates are passed in due course.
Mr. Chairman, I had intended to make some carping remarks about Indian affairs. However, last night I noticed a news report to the effect that a septuagenarian Indian woman in our area who was trained as a midwife had not been able to officiate at a birth in the last six years because the welfare services provided by the Indian affairs branch are so good. I had better, therefore, restrict my criticism to one suggestion. I would suggest the department look into the amount of money it is spending for air transportation down from the northern regions, especially the rim of the bay, to the Indian hospitals across northwestern Ontario. I have heard a great deal of general complaint about this but no one is able to
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration give me a specific instance. The feeling is that some of the airways are making a killing on the deal and that quite often the trips are unnecessary. Sometimes a plane comes down with one Indian instead of carrying a full load of passengers; in other words, making a sort of charter trip.
One last point I should like to leave in the minister's mind and that is in connection with taking a lead in getting the Indians the vote as far as federal elections are concerned. I hope he does so. I should like to say that in expressing this hope, I think that those of us in northern Ontario have been particularly noble because in the provincial election, the Indians have the vote; and if all the Indian vote in the provincial election, say in the next election, was translated into terms paralleling Ontario, the Conservative government would be returned with approximately 260 out of 265 seats. It is therefore something for them to keep in mind.
Before the minister rises to reply to the lengthy comments that have been made, I wonder whether I could suggest one other thing he might take into consideration. I expect that in answering it he may have, in this instance, to put his other coat on as Minister of Justice. He will recall that yesterday I made a slight reference to the question of racial discrimination towards Indian people in restaurants, cafes and in certain canneries. Since that time-and this is coincidental-I have received a copy of the Prince Rupert Daily News of January 22. A front page headline in that paper reads: "Lawyer Claims 'Discrimination' Practiced in Vander-hoof Cafes", and the article reads in part as follows:
Prince George (CP)-A Prince George lawyer says native B.C. Indians are being discriminated against by whites at Vanderhoof, some 60 miles west of here.
Peter J. Henslowe, a vice-president of the Cariboo Young Progressive Conservative Association, said Indians have been barred from restaurants in the village of 600 people.
Describing the situation as "serious", Mr. Henslowe said he plans to present a resolution on the matter at the annual meeting of his political group in Vancouver next month.
Following underneath that article is a Canadian Press story from Vancouver quoting Mrs. Masie Hurley, publisher of the Native Voice, in which she indicates substantially the same thing, namely that racial discrimination exists. I wonder whether the minister could relate to the house what action could be taken to prevent this sort of thing that has happened in the past from happening in the future? If the minister would like to have the paper, he is welcome to it. I will send it over to him.
I think the hon. member is behind the times. If he would look in the Prince George Citizen of recent date he would find that those things were denied by the people in the area who are living with the Indians and have to deal with them every day.
May I say one thing in reply. I just use this as a newspaper article which I obtained today to supplement what I know of my own knowledge in other parts of the province of British Columbia. Whether this instance is correct or not, I have no way of knowing, except that it was a newspaper account. I know from my own personal knowledge, that these things exist in other parts of the country, regardless of what the people there in Vanderhoof say.
I am sure it will be appreciated that in the time available to me tonight I probably shall not be able to comment in detail on all the remarks that have been made and all the points that have been raised by everyone who has spoken this afternoon. I hope that hon. gentlemen will agree that most of their comments have been in connection with three or four main subjects, namely the question of the education of Indians; the welfare of Indians, including the provision of housing for Indians; the problem of finding industrial and placement opportunities for Indians; and then the question of better relations or if you like, more effective efforts being made by the departmental staff to assist the Indians in solving their problems generally.
Perhaps it would meet the wishes of the committee if I dealt with those four general subjects. In doing so, I think I will be dealing with the comments that have been made. Where specific questions have been asked, I shall try to remember them and deal with them. If I omit dealing with them, perhaps they could be raised again on the specific item a little later on this evening.
In connection with education generally, I think it is only proper for me to say that the feeling of the department and of the government is that the desirable thing is to enable Indian children to live in an environment in which they are going to have to live, we hope, for the remainder of their lives, namely an environment that will train them to take their places as citizens of this country. It has been over the past years and still is the policy to bring about a situation, wherever possible, where Indian children are educated alongside of white children with whom they are going to have to live in this country. But it must be realized that this is a long-term program and that it is going to be many years before
we shall have Indians educated in every case in the same schools as are white children.
I am not quite sure what point of departure the hon. member for Nanaimo found in the remarks he had to make this afternoon with reference to what I said yesterday. As I recall it, what I said yesterday was simply that the residential schools have served a very noble cause in this country and are continuing to do so; and that it will be necessary for many years to provide for the education of Indian children in residential schools.
When we think of the role of the residential school, I think it is desirable to remember that if it had not been for those schools and the selfless efforts made by those who have run them over the past years, we would not have had any Indian education in Canada at all. The fact of the matter is that those schools have been operated on a shoestring for many years. It seems to me to be entirely out of place for people in positions of responsibility to blame the religious orders for the fact that they have not been able to provide for Indian children the education which they would have liked to provide. They have done their best. Any blame to be attached in this connection attaches to the government of Canada over the years for not having realized sooner the enormity of the problem of Indian education and for not having made it possible for these religious orders to do the job that they were willing to do. I think it is most essential that we maintain a sense of proportion in this matter.
While we realize that the residential school is not the whole answer to the problem, we are going to get a warped sense of proportion if we think that the need for residential schools has completely gone. What we are trying to do now is to make it possible for those Indians who still require-and will do so for many years-to be taken in the residential school to receive as good an education as does the white child in a public school. I do not think that the hon. gentleman who raised the point this afternoon or any other hon. member would quarrel with that objective.
Where it is possible to educate Indian children in the company of their white companions, that will be done. Where that cannot be done and they have to be taken in a residential school, the effort will be to raise the standard by providing the facilities to make it possible to raise the standard of education in the residential school to the same standard as we like to see prevail in our ordinary public school system. In many respects the standards are not too far behind
and in some respects they are a little bit ahead of what prevails in the ordinary public school system.
I should like to give the committee some figures on this matter. I should like to make it clear also that nothing I said yesterday and nothing I have said here today should be taken as indicating that the attempts to integrate and co-ordinate the education of Indian children will be set back. That remains the policy. I merely ask that we keep a sense of proportion about the role of the residential school.
At March 31, 1957, the figures for enrolment of Indian children were as follows: At residential schools operated by the department, 10,599 or 28 per cent of the total Indian school population; at Indian day schools, 20,434 or 54 per cent; at non-Indian and joint schools, that is to say, mainly public schools in which Indians are educated along with white children, 6,272, or 18 per cent of a total Indian school population of 37,305.
I think it should also be said that when it is borne in mind that the total Indian population in Canada today is in the neighbourhood of 160,000, the total school population out of that number of 37,305 represents a substantial measure of progress in bringing the Indian children into schools where they may receive education. I am sure that my predecessor will agree that what we want today is to see that amongst the school population a higher percentage is in the higher grades.
Yes, well, the higher grades which would include the high schools.
Some question was raised as to whether or not the standards of education in Indian schools are as high as they are in the provincial schools. We have attempted and are still attempting to reach agreements with the provinces in which schools operated by the department will be to all intents and purposes providing educational facilities on the same standard, and we have in fact reached agreement with the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia for the provision of the facility of provincial school inspectors to inspect the schools operated by the department.
We have to pay for these services at varying rates throughout the provinces, but we are glad to do this to ensure that the education
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration received by the Indian children throughout this country, for whom we are responsible, is of the same standard as that received by the children in schools operated by the provinces.
I notice in the report that the number of high school children in eastern Canada, that is, all parts east of Ontario including the Atlantic provinces, contains a very small proportion of Indian school children attending grade 9 and above. I think that, according to the annual report of the minister's department, the figure is about 17 children. This is an extremely small number of Indian children who ever have an opportunity for a high school education and in all of the other provinces there are school children attending the schools right up to grade 12. I am not saying that this number is large either, but I think from Ontario east the figure is only about 17; whereas in the rest of Canada there is something over 300 or 400. Is this due to lack of facilities or lack of arrangements, and what is being done about it?
I do not wish to cast any reflection on any part of the country, but I am informed that it is reasonable to say we have been behind in that part of the country. Great strides have been made in recent years in co-operation with provincial authorities but, perhaps because they were behind to start with, the hon. member will appreciate that they have to get the children through the elementary grades before they can enter the high schools. I am informed that the number of Indian children in the schools is increasing all the time. The program is being pressed to the same extent in the mari-times as elsewhere in Canada. It is expected that in future years the proportion of those entering high school grades in the maritimes will increase.
I take it from the minister's answer that there are facilities available and arrangements with the provinces have been made so that they may enter the high schools as soon as they are qualified to attend?