Jesse Eleftheriadis, Lesa Smith, Zack Teitel Alternative Timeline:Canada’s Aboriginal Peoplesin the Twentieth Century
1900Dominion Elections Act The Dominion Elections Act of 1900 outlined which members of the Canadian population were given the privilege of voting in both provincial and federal elections. Groups that are excluded at this time are: • Women • Visible Minorities • First Nations These groups began a new century without equality or democracy at any level of government making this date a significant one in Canadian history. Chinese, Japanese and Aboriginal people are prevented from voting in provincial and federal elections. Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/en/getBriefed/1900/minorities.asp Human Rights in Canada: A Historical Perspective, “Aboriginal Rights,” Canadian Human Rights Commission/Dept of Justice, www.chrc-ccdp.ca/en/timePortals/milestones/2mile.asp.
1914-1918World War One An example of posters used to solicit funds from First Nations communities. Bands and Reserves donated thousands of dollars to the war effort despite the hardships they were facing. Source: Journeys: A History of Canada, p. 373. World War One is extremely significant in Canadian First Nations’ history. Despite a policy implemented by the Federal Government to prevent Aboriginals from enlisting in the army, nearly 1 in 3 able-bodied Native men joined the Canadian military although the number is thought to be much higher as only” Status Indians” were recorded during enlistment. • 1914: The Hudson’s Bay Company put a moratorium on fur purchases, effectively crushing the remnants of the fur trade. • 1915: The government policy to deter Native soldiers was abolished in order to send more troops to Europe. • 1916: The 114th Canadian Infantry Battalion was formed and consisted mostly of Iroquois Six Nations from Brantford, ON., and Mohawks from Quebec and Northern Ontario. • 1917: Canada introduces Conscription; Native leaders insist that “Treaty Indians” should be exempted. • 1918: “Treaty Indians” are released from conscription responsibilities. Joseph Bombberry and George Buck from the Six Nations Grand River Reserve prior to departure to Europe. Source: Native Soldiers – Foreign Battlefields, p. 5. Janice Sumerby, Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Native Soldiers – Foreign Battlefields, (Canada: Dept. of Veteran Affairs, 2005). Hugh Shewell, ‘Enough to keep them alive’ Indian Welfare in Canada, 1873-1965, (Toronto: UofT Press, 2004) 97.
1920Residential School System The significance of this date lies in the extreme assimilationist policies that were adopted by the Federal Government at this time in their dealings with First Nations peoples. The following points illustrate the climate of social injustice that Canadian Aboriginals faced in 1920. • The Department of Indian Affairs permitted students to return home for a two-month summer vacation provided they were confident that parents would send their children back to school at the end of the break. Parents had to be “under the control” of the Department before their children could be released on vacation. • Duncan Campbell Scott, head of the Department of Indian Affairs, proclaims to Parliament: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem…our objective is to continue until there is not an Indian in Canada who has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indian in question, and no Indian Department .” It is in this decade that the designation ‘residential school’ replaces ‘boarding school’ and ‘industrial school’ across Canada. Lake LaRonge Residential School, LaRonge Saskatchewan, 1929. Source: BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/08/americas_canada0s_residential_schools/html/5.stm Nuns and students outside an unnamed school. Source: Library and Archives Canada http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/framingcanada/026020-3300-e.html John Sheridan Miller, A National Crime: the Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986,” (Winnipeg: U of Manitoba Press, 1999).
1938Dominion Elections Act, Revised In 1938 the Dominion Elections Act stated that voting rights would continue to be determined by race. Aboriginals living on reserves and the Inuit continued to be denied equal rights as were any non-White Canadians at the time. An exception to this stipulation was extended to Veterans of World War One under the Military Voters Act. Any Veteran was able to vote regardless of race. This date is significant because it proves that the racial hierarchy was alive and well in Canada during the interwar period. Despite the granting of voting rights to all Veterans, a large population of non-White Canadians continued to be excluded. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was elected during this time of racial exclusion of voting rights. Source: Library and Archives of Canada http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/4/h4-3250-e.html Elections Canada, “A History of the Vote in Canada,” http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=his&document=chap3&lang=e. Human Rights in Canada: A Historical Perspective, “Aboriginal Rights,” Canadian Human Rights Commission/Dept of Justice, www.chrc-ccdp.ca/en/timePortals/milestones/2mile.asp.
1939-1945World War Two Germany, 1945: A group from the Lake Superior Regiment display a flag captured from the enemy. Source: Native Soldiers – Foreign Battlefields, p. 25. • Similar to World War One, with the onset of the Second World War numerous Aboriginal people, both men and women, enlisted to fight for Canada. Because only “Status Indians” were counted among the enlisted, the total number of Aboriginal soldiers is unknown. Once again, thousands of dollars were donated to the war effort by Reserves and Bands across Canada. • 1940: Conscription is implemented for military service and at-home labour for Canadians over the age of 16. “Treaty Indians” are no longer exempt. Protests were held by First Nations Bands in opposition to this using their exemption from the First World War as precedent. • 1944: The Federal Government exempts Native groups from conscription only if they had explicitly included these terms in their Treaty negotiations. Charles Byce of the Lake Superior Regiment. Byce earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal and was the only member of his regiment to do so. Source: Native Soldiers – Foreign Battlefields, p. 24. Janice Summerby, Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Native Soldiers – Foreign Battlefields, (Canada: Dept. of Veteran Affairs, 2005). John MacFarlane and John Moses, “Different Drummers: Aboriginal Culture and the Canadian Armed Forces, 1939-2002.” Canadian Military Journal. (Spring 2005).
1951Revisions to the Indian Act (1874) In 1951, the federal government enacted changes to the Indian Act, which was established in 1874. This ‘new’ legislation provided many changes, including : • removing many oppressive laws banning key customs such as pow-wows and potlatches (traditional celebrations) • allowing the possession and consumption of alcohol but only on reserves, and • permitting Aboriginals to sue government over land claims. (canadiana.org) The most noteworthy element of these changes was the fact that one thing did not change at all; overall control of Aboriginal people remained with the federal government (canadiana.org). This date is significant because it was the first major alteration to the Indian Act since its inception. The Act would be reviewed and changed again many times in the later-part of the twentieth century. Potlatch ceremony Source: www.firstpeoplesofcanada.com
July 1, 1960Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act This date holds great significance because it was the first time since 1885 that First Nations’ men could vote in a federal election without renouncing their Indian status. In 1885, Sir John A. MacDonald extended the vote but it was repealed in 1898 by Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberal Party (Bedford). In 1960, then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker extended the vote to Status Indians. This extension accounted for an increase of several hundred thousand voters (Bedford). While many of the provinces adopted the act at the same time, Quebec was the last province to extend voting rights in 1968. (canadiana.org) Source:www.elections.ca/res/eim/article_search/article.asp?issueid=9&lang=e&frmPageSize=
1969-1970White Paper vs. Red Paper In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau issued the White Paper, a government report intended to guide future legislation on Aboriginal policy. Notably, this report indicated that Canada should not negotiate further treaties with Native people (canadiana.org). In response to this, Harold Cardinal wrote The Unjust Society: The Tragedy of Canada’s Indians. His book and statements issued by Indian Chiefs of Alberta countered the White Paper were submitted to the government as Citizens Plus (1970), it is more well known as the Red Paper (Cardinal). In late 1970, the two sides met to discuss the issues. In the end, the government radically changed their position (Cardinal). The significance of this date is two-fold; first, there is the astonishing nature of Trudeau’s intentions toward Aboriginal rights, and second, the power of people to sway government. Harold Carpenter Source: www.abheritage.ca Premier Harry Strom, Harold Cardinal and Jean Chrétien, Minister of Indian Affairs, 18 Dec. 1970 (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com)
1981Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump declared UNESCO World Heritage Site In 1981, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southwest Alberta as UNESCO World Heritage Site No. 158. UNESCO identifies the site’s significant as a result of its representation of “nearly 6000 years of use … by the Aboriginal people of the Northern Plains;” the site also exemplifies “an outstanding illustration of subsistence hunting techniques” for native peoples (unesco.org). The significance of this event is the recognition of the traditions of Aboriginal peoples on a world-stage and the preservation of a historically and archeologically significant place. Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/158/gallery/ (PUBLIC DOMAIN)
1985Bill C-31 In 1985, the federal government passed Bill C-31. This bill reinstated Indian Status to those women and their children who had lost said rights under old legislation that designated if a status woman married a non-status man she forfeited her status (and that of her potential children), and even upon divorce or widowhood it was unlikely to be re-instated (Dussault and Erasmus). An expiration date to the reinstatement existed in that even with the bill, those children born after 1985 to women, or their children, who had had their status reinstated would be unable to pass along their status to a subsequent generation. This date is significant because, after 10 years of fighting, the bill was an attempt to rectify years of stripping First Nations women of their status; this did not occur to status-men who married non-status women. Source:www.elections.ca/res/eim/article_search/article.asp?issueid=9&lang=e&frmPageSize=
September 1995 - May 2009 “One Dead Indian” - The Ipperwash Crisis and Consequent Death of Dudley George - During WWII the Canadian Gov’t appropriates native land (Ipperwash Park) to use as the site of a military training ground. Promises are made to return the land; those promises are not kept. - On Labour Day of 1995, a group of natives from the Stoney Point Band start a protest in order to draw attention to the decades old land dispute. They “occupy” the park. While at first government attempts to quell the protest are peaceful in nature, they eventually turn violent based on information that some of the protestors are armed. (This information is later found to be false.) In the ensuing melee, a protestor named Dudley George is shot and killed by OPP Officer Ken Deane. - A ensuing criminal investigation finds Officer Deane criminally negligent. Not satisfied with this, the George family demands a formal inquiry. It is eventually carried out and it is found (amongst other things) that the government and police were at great fault. Particularly significant are the final two Recommendations that call for the immediate return of the land to theStoney Creek Band, as well as an apology and appropriate compensation for the “failure of the federal government for more than 60 years to honour its promise to return the land to the First Nations.” - On Thursday 28th of May 2009, Ipperwash Park is formally returned to the First Nations. Picture Sources (clockwise from top left): voiceofcanada.wordpress.com, criminaljustce.net, bermudaradical.wordpress.com Text Source: Edward, Peter. One Dead Indian: The Premier, The Police, and The Ipperwash Crisis. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland & Stewart, 2003. Print.
July 31, 1996 “Let the Games Begin!” - Casino Rama Opens • - After much provincial government nail-biting, Casino Rama opens on July 31, 1996. It immediately takes the crown as the biggest gaming centre in Canada and the only Canadian “commercial casino” (as opposed to “charity casinos”). • - The casino, owned by the Mnjikaning First Nation results in a revolutionary shift in direction (no hyperbole here) of First Nations history within Canada. The casino will come to represent a major change in thinking regarding planned First Nations economic self-sufficiency, as well as integration between Native and Non-Native Canadian communities. • - The casino will also serve to vigorously stir the pot of national debate regarding gambling as a legitimate source of community revenue, also highlighting how said pot holds different ingredients depending on who is doing the stirring; Chief Carl Roberts of the Roseau River Band explains First Nations leaders’ concerns of racism evidenced in the national debate, “ (When First Nations gaming is mentioned) it all of a sudden becomes a moral issue. When it is done by governments, it is an economic venture to provide employment.” Text Source: Belanger, Yale D. Gambling with the Future: The Evolution of Aboriginal Gaming in Canada. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Purich Publishing, 2006. Print. Picture Source: www.casinorama.com
April 1, 1999 “Hello Nunavut! “ - A People Reunited With Their Land - After some 30 years of negotiation and political dancing on the part of the Canadian government, the biggest land rights agreement ever to be signed in Canada (covering about one-fifth of Canada’s land mass as well as an extremely large marine area) reunites the Inuit people with “their land”; indeed, Nunavut literally means “Our Land” or “Our Home” in English. - Not only powerful on a cultural and ethnic level, the reunification of land and people (Nunavut and Inuit) gave the Inuit an amount of national influence previously denied to them, vis a vis control over territory, natural resources, and Arctic industry. Text Source: Kusugak, Jose. “The Tide Has Shifted.” Nunavut: Inuit Regain Control of Their Lands and Their Lives. Ed. Jens Dahl, Jack Hicks, and Peter Jull. Skive, Denmark: IWGIA Press, 2000. 20-30. Print. Picture Sources (clockwise from top right): 15.q.net, wikitravel.org, rootsweb.ancestry.com
September 19th, 2003 MetisRecognition - Supreme Court Ruling Provides “Last Piece of the Puzzle” Text Source: Goulet, George and Terry. The Metis: Memorable Events and Memorable Personalities. Calgary, Alberta: Fairjob Inc, 2006. Print. • On this date, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Powleys (father and son). The Powleys had been accused by the Ontario government of poaching moose; in response, the Powleys argued that as Metis they should be exempt from aspects of provincial hunting legislation as outlined by a set of particular rights afforded to Aboriginals within the province of Ontario. Despite the Metis already being recognized formally within the Constitution, as per an amendment in 1982, the provincial government was not ready to afford certain Aboriginal rights to the Metis. And moreover, the provincial government was not ready to accept the Powleys admission that they were in fact of Metis heritage. Needless to say, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Government of Ontario, and acquitted the Powleys on all charges. This landmark decision represented both an important end and beginning for the Canadian Metis people: • The ending of over a century of an institutionalized refusal to recognize the Metis as a distinct group belonging within the category of Aboriginal peoples. • The beginning of (the as of yet finished) process of legally defining who the Metis are (an act which the importance of cannot be understated; the legal framework pertaining to the definition of a recognized group of people will weigh heavily in defining what kinds of specific rights those people are afforded within the context of the larger Canadian legal landscape. Picture Sources (clockwise from top left): commons.wikimedia.org, filibustercartoons.com, canadiandesignsource.ca
The Kelowna Accords - An Ongoing Struggle (November 2005 - Present Day) • After 18 months of roundtable discussions between Aboriginal leaders and Paul Martin’s Liberal government, on November 25th, 2005, the largest ever financial investment in Canada’s Aboriginal communities is agreed upon. • $5 billion dollars over 5 years, the media named “Kelowna Accords” are set to improve the education, employment, and living conditions for Aboriginal peoples through governmental funding and other programs. Text Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/undoing-kelowna.html Picture Sources: thesepamphleteers.blogspot.com “Now you see it…” • 72 hours after the signing of the “Kelowna Accords”, Prime Minister Martin’s government falls. In the ensuing election, Martin is ousted as Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party come to power. • When the Conservatives release their first budget, they claim that they are also committed to investing in the Aboriginal community; however to the tune of $450 million, as opposed to the originally agreed upon $5 billion “…now you don’t!”