Mr. Chairman, I have listened with much interest and appreciation to the many things which have been said on behalf of the Indians by the various members who have participated in the debate up to the present time. It is not my purpose to take much time as I believe there are others who would like to be able to speak before we turn to other matters at five o'clock.
I should like to say a word about the matter of integration. The hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate recently made the remark that we were all working towards integration. It is important, I believe, that we define first the meaning of integration as applied to the Indians. The Indians do not want integration in the sense that they would inter-marry with white people and cease to be an Indian people. After all the abuse we have given our Indians throughout the generations since we took over responsibility for their welfare, it seems to me that we could at least respect their desire in this important matter. I have always maintained that if the Indians desire to go to white children's schools, if they desire to intermarry with whites, if they desire to accept the white man's religions or to accept the white man's right to vote, that is their concern. Let us give them the utmost freedom to do as they desire.
It is to be granted that future generations of Indians may look upon the matter differently in some respects from the way in which Indians now living now look upon it, but as long as the Indians of today look upon the question of integration as they do, it seems to me that no responsible member of parliament should talk about our wanting integration of the Indians.
While I am referring to the work of the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate, may I say for the record that in my judgment the hon. member, when minister of citizenship and immigration, did a good job. I do not
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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration think he has anything to grieve about in that connection and I am putting these words on record so that they will be there for his descendants to read that he did a good job in his work respecting the Indians. I happen to be in a position to know something of what he has done.
I should like to turn now to the matter of health. It is granted that apparently we have turned over to the Department of National Health and Welfare the responsibility for the health of the Indians.
In a general way, I would raise the question as to whether or not the department of government which has responsibility for the welfare of the Indians should turn over the matters of Indian health to the health department which is not in a position to know the essential facts pertaining to the situation which affects the Indians.
Just to show how serious this could easily be, I raise this question for the minister. I am going to take the reserve which is in my constituency, the Blood Indian reserve. Is it so, that after having established an excellent Indian hospital there, available to the Indians, with a fine staff so far as I know, we refuse to allow Indians into that hospital for treatment, no matter how serious their ailment may be, unless the cash is placed on the barrelhead. I have been told this by Indians; whether it is accurate or inaccurate, I do not know. Not so long ago I was told of an Indian woman who had to have a very serious operation. The man had to go all around amongst his friends, almost frantically to borrow enough money to enable him to pay for the cost of that woman's treatment, because she would not be admitted to the hospital and given that treatment unless he paid the money.
The report may be inaccurate, but let me bring to the attention of hon. members who do not happen to know, that the financial position of the Indian today is very, very precarious. We are having a great amount of difficulty in enabling our white people to secure jobs. Surely, the difficulties an Indian encounters in getting a job must be greatly increased as a result of that condition. The white man is suffering almost intolerably as a result of the rise in prices, for which he is in no respect responsible, and so is the Indian. How can any organization representing a Christian nation, with democratic ideals, deal as callously as I have indicated with Indians who are desperately in need of health services, when all the facilities for the health services are right on the ground, yet the Indians may be unable to get the means with which to pay for those services? May I suggest that if the minister's department has not,
up to this time, assumed a very intimate supervision of the way in which the health department of Canada discharges its responsibilities with respect to the Indians, that it institute rigid supervision to make sure the health department administers the health services for Indians in accordance with the ideals of the Indian department.
While I am dealing with this subject, I should like to say a word or two in commendation of the gentlemen who are sitting here as experts for the department. I have had considerable dealings with them and I have found them at all times forward looking and ready to help the Indian. The only thing that is going to be in the way of either the men who constitute the department in an administrative sense or the man who has charge of the department as the minister now does, is money. We have spent one dollar on our Indians where we should have spent $200, and the same thing holds true today. Some people talk about the Indians being more or less dull and lazy. I ask you, what non-Indian would be alert and energetic if he were half starved while he was growing up and had to subsist on food utterly inadequate for the maintenance of sound and robust health? I thought of that while some hon. members across the way were talking about the small amount of food provided for Indians. I want to commend the officials of the Indian department. I have not seen the minister in action long enough to know whether or not I could commend him, but judging from the sincere, effective way he goes at his tasks I think he will do a very good job. He will be hampered though by the lack of money at every single turn.
I wish to raise another matter, and I should like the officials of the department to look into this. Oil wells are being found in southern Alberta. Just exactly what is done to make sure that the Indian receives the amount of money to which he is entitled from the discovery and exploitation of oil on his reserve? Is there a means by which the councillors of the band can find out exactly how much money is being made from any given oil well? Is there any means whereby they can determine exactly what ought to be their share? Is there any means whereby they can appeal if they believe that the share allotted to them is inadequate considering all aspects of the situation? The hon. member for Red Deer asks if this appropriation conforms to provincial regulations of Alberta?
Alberta has been exceedingly wise in the way in which she has administered her whole oil industry. I believe provincial regulations are so designed as to give everybody
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration
who has anything to do with any given oil well a square deal. We want to see that the Indians get their square deal. It may be that in due time there will be a considerable number of oil wells developed on the Blood Indian reserve in southern Alberta. This reserve is only a very short distance from the famous Pincher Creek wet gas field, one of the finest fields in Alberta. The reserve is also only a short distance from the Water-ton Lakes field in Alberta, which appears to be opening into something really good.
I wish to turn to another matter which I believe will be found to be very important. I ask the members of the house, most of whom are practical businessmen, how far would they be able to get in conducting any business if they were not free to go to the banks and obtain the credit they needed for the development and prosecution of their business? They realize they would be utterly helpless. I would ask the minister to look with great care into the matter of the facilities an Indian has on each and every one of the reserves for getting credit with which to buy cattle, machinery, or to obtain any of the other things necessary in order to carry on farming, lumbering or any other industry which might be appropriate, considering the resources of the reserve in question. My information is that the Blood Indians in southern Alberta are unable to get credit. If any of them can get it they will be the very best and most successful of Indians.
One would ordinarily conclude that those who are less successful ought to be able to obtain credit, too, so they can try themselves.
It looks to me as though a considerable amount of money, even if we allow it to be lent to the Indians and in some cases lost, would be well spent in providing ambitious Indians who seem to be credit-worthy in other respects with the means of obtaining loans with which to develop their holdings on the reserves. It could be that it would be wise to establish a sort of small bank on any Indian reservation and to let that bank be administered by someone in conjunction with the agent working along with the agricultural supervisor and those who are put there to help develop the Indian's ability to make a living, with the objective in mind of bringing just as many Indians as possible up to a position in which they can produce and make their own living. I leave that as a suggestion which I believe the minister will find to be quite well worth investigating.
If the minister would wish to answer some of the questions I have raised, I should be glad if he could give us the answers. Perhaps I had better leave the Indian branch until later.
I understand there are one or two hon. members who would like to speak. But I should just like to say this. I am right with all those who are prepared to go forward and put the Indians up where they ought to be, realizing as I do that we have no right to expect the ordinary Indian, raised under the conditions under which he is raised, malnourished as most of them are, for at least a generation, to excel as they would excel if they had the means of getting proper nourishment and proper contact with educational facilities.
Before I resume my seat I may say just a word or two more in respect of the work done by the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate. While he was in charge, he and the fine people who are here before the minister, planned to build a big school in Cardston. Now that school is well along the way to completion. I think they spent $500,000 on that school. Cardston is prepared to take in the Indian children, just as many as will come and just as soon as they will come. They will take them as to school grading just exactly where they find them when they come in from the various other schools. They have set up school rooms in which teachers will teach who are particularly skilful in taking a child and bringing it educationally up to standard. They are prepared to take the Indians and do all that can be done to give them a chance for a good education. The previous minister is entitled to full credit for having taken a forward step in helping to build that school to accomplish that objective, and I want him to receive that credit.
Subtopic: REQUEST FOR CONTINUATION OF BRANCH LINE PASSENGER SERVICE