I am sure the minister will be encouraged by the fact that all of those members taking part in the discussions are pleased to find and would like to see more money spent by this department in respect of the estimates. I note from the estimates that there has been an increase of over $3 million from the 1956-57 period, which gives the minister something over $27 million for the Indian affairs branch. However, in view of the fact that there are about 150,000 Indians in Canada, this works out at less than $200 per person. I note that as early as 1670, during the reign of Charles II, instructions were given to the governors of the colony to the effect that those Indians who desired to place themselves under British protection should be well received and protected. This appears to have happened 288 years ago and then, 203 years ago, we had our first Indian superintendent appointed. We have had a number of treaties since that time. In 1763,
there was a royal proclamation that no Indian could be dispossessed of his lands without his consent and the consent of the crown. I am glad the minister has made the intent of that proclamation quite clear since he has become the minister.
I also read that back in 1875, as a result of the increase in the cost of living, the annuity was increased from $3 to $5 per head. In view of the fact that this was 75 years ago, and it was then considered that $3 was quite inadequate, it is very hard to understand why it would be considered that $5 is quite adequate now.
I think we must look at the problem which confronts the Indian people of Canada from coast to coast. When you consider that in the last two or three years the taxpayers of Canada have spent $200 million on building the mid-Canada line across northern Canada, where the Indians can see with their own eyes the very extravagant type of quarters which must be provided for the people who go up there for a short period, the comparison is quite striking between such accommodation for those people performing the public service and the sort of quarters with which the Indians are obliged to content themselves.
In the Sandy Bay district of my constituency about a year ago there was an unfortunate fire which took the life of an Indian woman and several of her children. Two of the girls were sent to the hospital and are now going to be handicapped for life as a result of that fire. These are not treaty Indians. The Saskatchewan government is responsible and has spent well over $10,000 on medical and hospital care as a result of this one fire, not to mention the loss of life and the permanent disability of these very nice young girls.
It would appear to me that a country with the resources of Canada could do something more than we have done to date to fulfil those responsibilities which we undertook as long ago as 1670, and I am sure as a result of the comments made this afternoon the minister will be in a stronger position to go to his colleagues in the cabinet and say that the very small change which has been made available to the Indian affairs branch is quite inadequate in view of the extent of the problem.
About 5 per cent of my people are Indians; of course a great many of them are not able to vote, and I think we should also have a look at that particular problem. I believe with 150,000 Indians in Canada we should, if necessary, make a change in the British North America Act so that these people would be able to send their own spokesmen to
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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration parliament. It is going to be very difficult to have elected members come to parliament from a relatively small Indian community and I am sure all hon. members of all parties are anxious to present the claims of Indian people fairly well but, when you have 5 per cent of the people who are Indians, and when they are scattered over such a large area, it is not easy to see that sufficient attention is paid to them and to their problems in parliament. On the other hand, in New Zealand it has been found possible to make provision for the native people of that country to go to their assembly and to express their points of view. In India every consideration is given to minority groups so that the spokesmen of these groups can go to the Lok Sabha, stand up in their places and speak for the people whom they represent.
Topic: CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic: REQUEST FOR CONTINUATION OF BRANCH LINE PASSENGER SERVICE