Not because of Jacques Cartier. It is a well known fact that while my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver East, was a member of the British Columbia provincial legislature and since he has been a federal member of parliament he has had a very intense interest in the activities and affairs of this department. He would have liked to be here today to participate in the debate and listen to what the minister and others had to say. Unfortunately he is a member of the defence committee steering committee, and the steering committee is spending many long hours today attempting to prepare a draft report for presentation to the full committee. He asked me to express his regrets to the minister and others at not being able to listen to the debate as it proceeds.
I want to confine my remarks entirely to the subject of Indian affairs, because it has long been one of my own interests and, because the rights of people are involved, was long one of the prime interests of the C.C.F. Now those of us in the New Democratic party are maintaining that traditional interest. It should be remembered that when the C.C.F. party was in existence it introduced into the House of Commons the very first bill to give our native Indian people the right to vote in federal elections without any strings attached to that right. This was done in 1957, and I had the privilege of introducing that bill on behalf of the C.C.F. at that time. We were
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration
happy that finally steps were taken in 1960, I believe, to extend to our native Indian people the right to vote in federal elections.
As I said last night, it is interesting to note that, following upon the Indian people gaining the right to vote, we have had a much more active interest on the part of members of parliament in Indian affairs. I believe this is a welcome situation, because parliament will then become more enlightened and we are likely to have more advanced and progressive attitudes towards Indian affairs than have been evident heretofore. I hope, certainly, that the minister does not have any knowledge of a situation in British Columbia. I certainly do not believe he is a party to it. It is unfortunate, but there is an element within the Liberal party in British Columbia that is seeking, and has attained a bit of success in this regard, to infiltrate at least one of the Indian organizations that exists in that province. They are seeking to infiltrate it, not for the purpose of promoting a solution of the problems of the Indians, but in an attempt to use the organization for partisan political purposes. I think this is regrettable. I think it is unfortunate, and I believe the Indian people will suffer if they permit this condition to continue.
I was interested in the minister's statement, not only on immigration and citizenship but on Indian affairs as well. I should like to make some brief comments on some of the things he mentioned. He said that the Indian Act is under review and when the amendments are ready it is his intention to consult with the Indian people before those amendments are passed. This is a commendable course, and one which we have advocated for many years. We say that inasmuch as the freedom and rights of the Indian people are involved, the proper course to follow is to consult with those people who are being affected before any legislation which deals with their various problems is passed.
I should like to note here that I was told on rather good authority that the minister intended to introduce a resolution preceding the establishment of the Indian claims commission on December 14. I think the precision of that prediction is remarkable because that seems to be precisely what is happening. We have a resolution on the order paper now. I would have liked to have the substance of the bill before parliament at this time. When I saw the resolution today I was hoping the Secretary of State was going to ask, as he does so often, for unanimous consent to the passage of the resolution so that the bill could be introduced today. It is unfortunate that has not taken place. In so far as I am concerned, I am quite prepared, at any time the Secretary of State asks for that
unanimous consent to the passage of the resolution, to grant it so that the bill can be introduced. I think every member in this party is of the same opinion. We would do so because we know that the bill is to be introduced but will not be proceeded with this session. We understand the government intends to bring the bill to the attention of the public so that the Indian people can study it, and at the next session we will have a better understanding of the reaction to the proposals contained in that legislation.
The minister made reference to a variety of activities of the department in the field of welfare, sewerage, water systems, education and the like. I do not believe it is necessary to comment specifically on them, except to say that I know of particular bands who have been somewhat miffed in years past by the activities of the Indian affairs branch in connection with water and sewerage systems. I certainly would not want to see repeated the experience which some bands have had. I know of one band in particular, right offhand I could not tell you the name, which has spent hundreds of dollars on a water system over a period of years in an attempt to make it efficient and effective. The reason for spending the additional amount of money is that when the water system was constructed in the first instance, the engineers or whoever was responsible for the installation, put the pipes in backwards. They put the small pipes at the source of the water supply and down near the houses they put the larger pipes, which is the reverse of what should have been done.
There is another Indian village on the coast, I do not want to mention the name of it, in which over a period of years some $30,000 has been spent in an attempt to instal a water supply system for the people. They have a beautiful looking water tank sitting up on top of a hill some distance behind the village and close to a creek upon which a dam was constructed. Perhaps more than $30,000 has been spent on this water system over a period of years, but not a single drop of water has come through the system. We do not want to see these things repeated, and I am sure the Indian people do not either. I do not want to go into specific cases, but I am sure that if the minister just asks for a review by his officers he will find that the two incidents to which I have referred were not isolated incidents. These conditions have existed for a long time in the operations of the Indian affairs branch.
The minister phrased his introductory remarks in fine language. I have read a number of press releases of speeches the minister made outside the house, and on every occasion these statements were phrased in fine words.
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration I do not wish to be unkind to him, but words are cheap, statements are easy to prepare, especially if one is learned in the language or learned in the law. Especially in view of the experience the native people have had in trying to solve their problems over the years, speeches, phrases and words must be backed up by action before the people will believe the minister. This is what we are waiting for, this is what we are looking forward to seeing.
At different times, I have had occasion to read the speeches made in this house by the minister's various predecessors. The Hon. Walter Harris, when he was minister, used to make some fine speeches. The present Secretary of State, when he held the post of minister of citizenship and immigration, spoke highly and emotionally about Indian affairs and the things that should be done for the Indian people. Incidentally, he spoke even more emotionally about those things when he sat in opposition. Nevertheless, his speeches make fine reading. Even the minister's predecessor, the Hon. Mrs. Fair-clough, spoke nicely about Indian affairs. However, over the years, the actions that have emanated from the government have not met the expectations which the Indian people had as a result of these statements and speeches.
The native Indian people want to see some action. They are trusting people. They are fine, upstanding citizens of this nation and they should be recognized. I hope that action will be forthcoming, and when it does that it will meet the expectations of the people of this nation, especially in view of the great amount of the milk of human kindness that is contained in the speeches of the various ministers, including the present one. Unfortunately, I believe the fathers of confederation made a mistake in the British North America Act in confining the jurisdiction over Indians and lands reserved for Indians to the parliament of Canada. In one sense, this casts some doubt upon the legality of the various dominion-provincial programs that are in existence, especially those co-operative programs on education that have been increasing over the years. There is some doubt expressed as to whether the parliament of Canada is able to delegate its authority in this field because of the provisions of the British North America Act, but I do not want to cast doubt upon that because I think this is the course of action we should be following-that is, getting out of the business of Indian affairs and getting it into the hands of the provincial governments where the civil and other rights of our other citizens rest, and where the civil and other rights of the Indian people should rest.
So long as we have an Indian affairs branch, and that provision in the British
North America Act, we are going to have two classes of people, one the native Indians who come under the jurisdiction of this parliament, and the other encompassing everybody else, whose jurisdiction is within the hands of the provinces. So long as we have a separate law on the statute books of Canada revolving around a group of people because of their racial background, it is going to beget discrimination in one form or another.
The mere fact that there is a separate law governing Indians makes people ask themselves whether the people covered by that law are different? If we had a separate act on the statute books covering the French people, and called the French act, people would say there must be something queer about the French. If we had a separate law relating to Scotch people, called the Scotch act, other people would say there must be something rather weird about the Scotch. I know many people have these opinions anyway, but if we had laws to such effect they would promote discrimination, in the same way as the very fact that we have an Indian Act does.
Unfortunately, no matter how much one may hope that the Indian affairs branch will have the initiative and momentum within it to be able to solve these problems, I do not think it can. To me the Indian affairs branch is an administrative organization. It is concerned with the keeping of files and records, the writing of letters and the preparation of documents. It does not concern itself with, and in fact it is impossible for it to be concerned with anything other than administration. It does not get into the field of developing policy, although there are some people who say it does; and it cannot get into the field of sociological research, and the like.
Accordingly, because it is bound by its own red tape and its own pyramidal structure, it is unable to do anything other than administer. It is a sort of conglomeration of office managers, and this does not help the problem of Indian affairs.
At one time the law used to refer to the individual in the field as the Indian agent, the implication being he was an agent of the Indian people. This was the concept of his original appointment, that he would be an agent to act on behalf of the Indian people in dealing with governments and other elements of society. Now the law has been changed. He is an Indian superintendent, and the very word superintendent carries with it the connotation of a supervisor, foreman, or boss of some sort. The minister himself has got an even higher faluting title: He is the superintendent general, a sort of super foreman over everybody else. This is precisely the attitude many superintendents have that
they are there to supervise the Indian people in their daily life, to represent the administrative machinery, and that they are not there to help the Indian people themselves.
Because of all these factors, and regardless of how much one may admire individuals in the Indian affairs branch, regardless of how much their hearts may be set on accomplishing something worth while, and no matter how fine an understanding individuals may have in the Indian affairs branch, they cannot give full effect to their feelings. The branch, by its very existence and structure, is an incompetent organization to deal fully and completely with the various problems confronting Indian people, problems that have developed over the last 100 years and which started some time before that.
To a great extent the branch is a narrow neck funnel through which ideas eventually filter to the minister. The minister's predecessors were not too interested in trying to break out of these bonds, and in trying to establish something different. I hope the minister is interested in this.
Unfortunately the Indian people look to the Indian affairs branch from the point of view as expressed to them by the political head of that department, whoever the minister may happen to be. To them the minister, being a representative of Her Majesty in the old traditional sense, because their treaties were phrased that way, they look upon him as being the sole guiding light in Indian affairs. But because we have had a succession of changes of ministers we have a confused attitude both in administration and in the approach by native Indian people to the government's tackling of Indian affairs. This is partly because the fine phrases, to which I referred earlier, have not been carried out and formulated into action, and this has largely been due to the succession of changes of ministers.
I would rather that the minister would not accept the contention of the hon. member for Churchill and others to the effect that we need a separate department of Indian affairs, or that the chief director of Indian affairs should be a deputy minister and given more authority and power within the structure of government; and I say this because our goal and objective must be repeal of the Indian Act, must be the transfer of the jurisdiction of various activities of the branch to the provincial governments, and this at a speed to meet the desires of the Indian people, and not to be foisted upon them.
We will not be able to proceed in that direction if we proceed in the direction of building an empire around the minister in the government. If we establish a separate department of Indian affairs we will bring into
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration being a group of empire builders and make it more difficult for the federal government to get out of the field of Indian affairs.
What I would like to see is that the government take steps to establish a board, commission or council-it does not matter what you call it-for the economic advancement of native peoples, a body that will be free from interference in its activities by the Indian affairs branch. It should be a body that will be free from political and ministerial influence in its day to day activities; which will have on it people who are native Indians representing the native points of view; which will have on it people schooled in the fields of sociology and anthropology, people well versed in the field of education-economists, representatives of the professions and the like -and this body should have as its guide posts the promotion of a variety of activities which the Indian affairs branch now conducts, or attempts to conduct, in the field of economic development activity.
Such a body should have a program of job opportunities and job placements within its sphere of activities. It should embrace the field of adult education, and the all important field of band council education, in an attempt to prompt band councils to become masters of their own destinies, rather than what they now are, minions of the Indian agent in whatever the agent can get away with. This body should have as its eventual goal an approach to working with the economic councils that exist in Canada, the various economic boards in the provinces and other agencies, with the hope of transferring as much of this activity as possible to the provincial governments, again at a speed which meets the desires of the Indian people.
We could then confine the activities of the Indian affairs branch to that which it knows best and does the most effectively, namely the dispensing of welfare or assistance of that sort, with the goal being to transfer these jurisdictions to the provincial governments, again at a speed which meets the desires of the native peoples themselves.
When it comes to the question of welfare I would like to make this comment. The amount payable now, in general terms, is $22 per month. This was established in 1957 or 1958, I believe, and replaced the old ration system of welfare assistance. This compares, again in pretty general terms, with welfare assistance payable in the province of British Columbia of $66 a month. So if you are an Indian, you get $22; if you are a non-Indian or an Indian living off the reserve, you are likely to get $66. We would like to see some sort of uniformity in this assistance, because
5906 HOUSE OF
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration it costs a native person just as much to eat and fill the bellies of his children as it costs a non-Indian.
While on this particular subject, Mr. Chairman, I should like to make reference to an agreement which was consummated the first part of this year between the federal government and the government of British Columbia. It was implemented on January 1, as a matter of fact. It is covered in what is called a statement of policy on social assistance and health services to Indians in British Columbia. So, even in this enlightened year of 1963 this is what the government of Canada and the government of British Columbia agreed to do with respect to welfare. They agreed to put into writing and permit a continuation of a system of paying welfare based on discrimination, based on racial origin, based on whether a person is an Indian or is not an Indian, and based upon whether a person lives on or off a reserve, which makes it even worse. What happens under that agreement? I do not think it is necessary to read it entirely into the record, but it says that an Indian who has lived continuously without social assistance directly from a municipal, provincial or federal government for one year off the reserve is the responsibility of the local area.
So if an Indian lives off the reserve for one year he is entitled, if he needs welfare, to receive welfare amounts from the provincial government; but if he lives on the reserve, what happens to him-he receives the $22 a month. Surely to heaven in the first part of this year, when we were talking about transfer of jurisdiction and equality, it would have been sensible for the government to have attempted to put into effect a system in the province of British Columbia which would be based upon equality of treatment for native people and do away with the old system of discrimination. As far as I am concerned, this system is also a bloody disgrace, if I can use that word, to this parliament and to the government of British Columbia; and it is a disgrace to all those people in Canada who allowed it to happen. I hope this government will take steps to have it repealed or changed, because after all, what difference is there between one person and another when it comes to his needs and requirements in order to keep body and soul together?
I think the mere word "integration" is a curse to the Indian people. "Integration" carries with it some very bad connotations, because it means and has meant in the past to many officials in government, a one way street. "Integration" means to the Indian people, "You give up your heritage, your culture, your language and your background. You give up what you know about your
people's ancestors and how they lived in this nation, and you come into our way of living and accept everything that we have". To me this is not a sensible course to follow. What other word one can find, I do not know, unless it might be acculturation. But the approach in the relationship between Indian people and those of non-Indian origin must in all instances be based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual trust and confidence and upon attempting to promote equality in all fields. It must be based on the desire of the non-Indian people-and this must emanate from government somewhere-to understand and respect the background of the arts that native people have. Incidentally, the only truly North American art form that has ever been developed is that of the totemic carving of the Indians along the west coast.
One must understand and have a desire to appreciate the participation of native people in the field of politics. One has only to read or talk with people who know about the Iroquois nation to appreciate what a remarkably fine political system and structure they have. It is one which would be well for us to copy and put parts of it into effect. We must attempt to understand and appreciate more the intense hereditary feeling of cooperation that exists amongst native people, because they far excel us in the field of co-operating and working together for the mutual benefit of all. In the past our forefathers destroyed the economic base of Indian native people. They did not do a single, solitary thing to replace it with anything else or attempt to train native people to fit into any other type of economy. Unfortunately, many of the missionaries in fact-although they did not realize they were doing this- destroyed to a great extent the religious base of native Indian people and replaced it with something which at that time was alien to them.
For all these reasons, together with a variety of others, the native Indian person has come, as the hon. member from the Northwest Territories said, to distrust practically every single thing that the non-Indian person, especially government and the Indian affairs branch, does. As I said earlier in my opening remarks, it will take more than fine phrases, it will take more than fine words, it will take more than long statements by the minister to counteract this distrust. It will take a long series of actions in a trustworthy way, carried out fully, before the native people will trust us as we should desire to trust and respect them.
I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if I could close by reading the attitude developed by the New Democratic party convention with regard to Indian affairs. Incidentally, ours is the only
political party in existence which in open convention developed a concept about native Indian affairs. We say this:
The New Democratic party has as a basic philosophy the recognition of the dignity of the human being; a respect for moral and cultural values; a belief in equality without regard to race, creed, colour, or religion; a deep desire to foster mutual trust and respect among all peoples; the will to promote advancements in the spheres of education, peace, security and freedom-
I know that the native Indian of Canada has in the past had his needs and hopes disregarded and sacrificed. Based on those words, we in the New Democratic party fervently hope that this parliament, this government, will find a way to solve the problems confronting our native Indian people and so assist all of us to reach a higher plane of dignity and work in this country.
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic: DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION