Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples

Issue 25 - Evidence - October 23, 2012


OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 9:30 a.m. to examine and report on the legal and political recognition of Metis identity in Canada.

Senator Gerry St. Germain (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good morning. I would like to welcome all honourable senators and members of the public who are watching this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on CPAC or the web. I am Gerry St. Germain from British Columbia, originally from Manitoba.

The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters relating to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada generally. Today, we continue to explore Metis issues, particularly those relating to the evolving legal and political recognition of the collective identity and rights of the Metis in Canada.

As part of our study on Metis identity, we recently travelled to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, where we held a series of public hearings and fact-finding meetings on the subject. The complexity of the issue became even more apparent during this travel.

We have been very impressed with the amount of engagement in the Metis community and appreciative of the efforts of the witnesses who have given of their time to help us grapple with the complicated question of identity.

We are similarly grateful to this morning's witness, Mr. Tough, who has taken the time to travel to Ottawa from Alberta to share his expertise with us.

[Translation]

Before we hear our witness, I would like to introduce the members of the committee who are with us today.

[English]

Present are Senator Lillian Dyck from Saskatchewan, the deputy chair of the committee; Senator Watt from Quebec; Senator Munson from Ontario; Senator Greene Raine from British Columbia; Senator Patterson from Nunavut; Senator White from Ontario; Senator Patrick Brazeau from Quebec; and Senator Jacques Demers from Quebec.

Please help me in welcoming Frank Tough, Professor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.

Professor Tough, we look forward to your presentation. We ask you to keep it as concise as possible to allow time for senators to ask questions of you.

Frank Tough, Professor, Native Studies Faculty, University of Alberta, as an individual: I am pleased that this committee invited me to present today. My talk is entitled ``An Introduction to Metis Scrip.'' Because of the scheduling, I was not able to present anything written that could be translated in time, but a written presentation will be provided, and I understand it will be translated later.

I have provided to the clerk attachments to that presentation, most of which are historical documents. Attachment 11 is a published booklet containing research that I directed explaining the Metis scrip system.

To ensure that I get through my presentation, I will begin by reading my conclusions and findings and relevance. Professors are in the habit of pontificating, and I want you to be able to get to questions.

On findings and relevance, the scrip system entailed the conversion of a collective interest in Indian title into individual entitlements.

This presentation will not attempt to provide a full account of land scrip irregularities, but sufficient historical documentation suggests sharp dealings by the Crown and others when relating to the Metis.

To what extent the implementation of the Metis land grant provided by the Manitoba Act, 1870, should have provided a collective land base is a matter of ongoing debate. However, with the land scrip system, Metis grantees were not afforded the protection of individual property rights that accorded to other British subjects in Canada.

For a number of years, the Metis of Alberta engaged in several legal/political campaigns to seek redress. I believe that this experience contributed to the conditions that led to the creation of the Ewing commission and legislation that resulted in Metis settlements in Alberta.

The historical experience of the scrip system is a fundamental aspect of the relationship between the Metis and the Canadian government, and it has a relevance to their identity and distinctness.

``Scrip'' is a term that refers to a voucher or a piece paper. I refer to it as a coupon. It provides the entitled person with something. At the time, Metis scrip was known as ``half-breed'' scrip and was issued by the Canadian government to Metis individuals. Scrip coupons entitled recipients to lands or to purchase land, and they were intended to extinguish Metis Indian title.

Under the Dominion Lands Act of 1879, Indian title and Metis claims were connected by section 125(e), which reads:

To satisfy any claims existing in connection with the extinguishment of the Indian title, preferred by half- breeds resident in the North-West Territories outside the limits of Manitoba, on the fifteenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and seventy, by granting land to such persons, to such extent, and on such terms and conditions as may be deemed expedient.

A commission would be established upon recommendation from the Minister of the Department of the Interior and would be struck by the Privy Council. Commissioners would travel overland or along water routes to a number of communities, visiting missions and trading posts, stopping to accept and process claims.

The scrip entitlements to which I am referring in the Northwest Territories came in two types; money scrip and land scrip. Money scrip allowed the purchase of homestead lands and other land tenures created by the Dominion Lands Act. Land scrip could be applied to surveyed lands open to homesteading and could be used to secure a patent of dominion lands to the value of the scrip.

The allocations ranged from 160 acres/dollars to 240 acres/dollars. The applications were standardized forms that collected a great deal of information on the geography and the genealogy of the Metis.

If the claim was approved, the Metis grantee typically received a scrip certificate. The certificate was proof of the validity of the claim and could not be used to purchase or convert into lands. Certificates were often purchased by third parties. The scrip certificates could be exchanged, which was done by the Lands Patents Branch of the Department of the Interior in Ottawa, for the actual coupons. To redeem land scrip coupons, the Metis grantee would have to go in person to the Dominion Lands Office in the area where he was interested in obtaining lands and locate the parcel of land. This was referred to as the Rule of Location. Only once the Metis person had located the lands could those interests be assigned or transferred.

I would like to deal with some irregularities concerning the location of land scrip coupons. For a number of years, Metis in Alberta spoke out against the scrip system. Along with the petition, several legal actions were attempted. Irregularities in the scrip process, particularly around compliance with the Rule of Location, were brought to the attention of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice on several occasions.

In one case, about 1910, the L'Hirondelle brothers first petitioned the Department of the Interior saying they wanted their scrip coupons back. They said that they did not locate them and they did not transfer those interests to anyone else. The Department of the Interior said no and then took the Crown to the Exchequer Court and again requested the return of their coupons. They lost at the Exchequer Court. Their lawyer filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada but an out-of-court settlement was effected before that occurred.

In considering the request for the settlement, the dominion government's own legal counsel's opined that should the petitioners ``in this case succeed before the Supreme Court of Canada, there would not only be hundreds, but thousands of cases of a similar nature brought at once if the fiats were given, as there is no doubt that there were more forgeries and impersonations in scrip cases in Western Canada than you can ever realize.''

After receiving that, a memo went to the Minister of Justice on how to deal with this appeal, and it included a statement that the ``. . . subsequent dealing with the scrip was admittedly tainted with fraud.''

In 1922, Metis from the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta launched a petition and it arrived in the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior did respond and that response is in the package of attachments. The Department of the Interior's response to the position stated:

. . . the scrip notes issued by the Department were delivered to the grantee personally and it is not considered that the Department can be held responsible for subsequent action taken in connection with the location of the scrip, and if there were any fraud perpetrated in connection therewith it was open to them to take the ordinary proceedings before the proper Court.

Essentially, in this period, the response by officials from the Department of the Interior was once we have provided the paper it is not our responsibility, and they would often state that with respect to the assignment of lands and the location of scrip they were extremely diligent.

The response also said that if you have a case, go to court. In fact, they did. The next step they took was to take a case to court. This time it was a complaint and in fact dealt with the non-compliance with the Rule of Location. The complaint resulted in a criminal charge being laid against a prominent Edmonton businessman, Richard Secord.

On April 5, 1921, a Metis woman named Flora Taylor testified at Secord's preliminary hearing that she, at the behest of Secord, impersonated Elizabeth Hislop at the Dominion Lands Office in Edmonton.

Charged with contravening section 467 of the Criminal Code, Secord was committed to stand trial and remanded on bail of $5,000.

In those days, the Criminal Code of Canada did not treat lightly instances of impersonation, forgery and the sojourning of perjury in respect of property, and that also included scrip in lieu of land. Fraud was not taken lightly in those days. Sentences could be up to 14 years.

The third part of my presentation deals with the official acknowledgments of irregularities. Shortly after Secord was committed to stand trial, a provision to amend section 1140 of the Criminal Code — statute of limitations for ``half- breed'' scrip fraud — was inserted into Bill 138, a bill to amend the Criminal Code, prior to third reading in the Senate. At the time, Sir James Lougheed explained:

The intention is that if a prosecution for an offence is not brought within three years of the date of its commission, then it is proscribed. There is no provision for that in the Code at present. . . . This brings it into section 1140 in the code, which deals with the limitation of actions. There have been one of two cases brought, going back twenty years, claiming that fraud was committed. Of course, the evidence in connection with them would have disappeared long ago.

On July 21, 1921, the charges against Richard Secord were dropped.

Now, during that time there was a general election. On April 24, 1922, the Member of Parliament for West Edmonton, Donald Kennedy, tabled a private member's bill, Bill 54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, at the House of Commons. The bill was intended to undo the section 1140 amendment that had passed in the year prior.

This bill passed the House of Commons and went to the Senate. While unsuccessful in the Senate, Bill 54 generated interesting debate in both the house and the Senate. From that debate we learn more about the scrip system.

Apparently, on May 31, 1921, Sir James Lougheed received a memorandum from parliamentary counsel and this was the rationale for the regional amendment to section 1140 of the Criminal Code. This memorandum stated, in part:

The object of the clause is to provide a prescription of three years with respect to any offence relating to location of land issued by half-breed script [sic]. It is urged that there were a good many irregularities amounting to fraud and perjury in connection with the location of these lands, and parties are raking up these frauds for the purposes of blackmailing. If this clause passes any such prosecution would be proscribed as the offences were committed a long time ago.

This justification was remarkably candid and contradicts official claims that the scrip system was based on perfectly executed legal instruments. Apparently, there seems to be more concern about the blackmailing of those who allegedly committed frauds and perjury than the original criminal offence. This admission contrasts sharply with the assertion by Department of the Interior officials that they were diligent about checking assignments.

Also in this time period, because of a public controversy, a legal memorandum was prepared for the Deputy Minister of Justice. I would like to read out a section of that legal memorandum of October 14.

It appears that the scrip was handed to the half-breeds by the agent of the Indian Department and it was purchased, for small sums of course, by speculators. However the half-breed himself was required by the Department of the Interior to appear in person at the office of the land agent and select his land and hand over the scrip. In order to get over this difficulty the speculator would employ the half-breed to impersonate the breed entitled to the scrip. This practice appears to have been widely indulged at one time. The practice was winked at evidently at the time and the offences were very numerous. The transactions are ancient history now and the Department considered that it would be in the best interests of all to pass this section in a way of a general amnesty.

From this legal opinion, we can sense both the Justice Department's knowledge of the scrip system and the rationale for the amendment: One, scrip was obtained at a low cost by speculators; two, grantees were required to appear in person at the local land offices; three, this requirement was overcome by hiring impersonators; four, impersonation was widespread; five, impersonation was tolerated; six, the impersonation occurred a long time ago; seven, the amendment to the Criminal Code was a general amnesty; and, eight, a conviction would throw a cloud upon the title.

During the course of this, the Honourable Senator Turriff addressed the Senate on this issue and he said:

To my mind it is not a question whether or not this legislation helps or did help Mr. Secord. The whole question to my mind is whether or not it is advisable that these cases in which fraud was perpetrated — and I think there is no doubt that in a good many cases fraud was committed — should be opened up. The purchaser would buy the half- breed's scrip and pay a certain amount of money on it, and he would put a proviso in the agreement that the balance of the money would be paid when the owner of the scrip was notified to come into the land office to make entry for the land. In many cases these half-breeds lived four or five or six hundred miles from the land office, and it was a matter of very considerable expense to bring them in, and it is reported that in a good many cases the party who purchased scrip would get some other half-breed, not the owner at all, to go into the office and sign the necessary papers and the transfer, and in that way save the expense of bringing the real owner of the scrip into the land office, and also the expense of paying the balance of the money that was agreed upon to be paid. As I say, to my mind the whole question is whether or not it is advisable to open up these cases.

Again, his account clearly contradicts the Interior Department's official position that the scrip system was perfectly legal. As a long-standing resident of the northwest and a political leader — he had been a senator and member of Parliament and a former Commissioner of Dominion Lands — Turriff was a reasonably well-informed person about these matters.

I think I can end it there.

The Chair: I have a brief question, professor. How was the identity of the Metis in that era determined? They were not known as Metis at that time. They were just known as half-breeds, were they not?

Mr. Tough: In the English language, yes, generally.

The Chair: What were they referred to in the French? The Michif?

Mr. Tough: Perhaps sometimes. Probably ``les Métis.''

The Chair: In your research, have you been able to establish how they established who qualified for scrip?

Mr. Tough: Yes, and this can be reinvestigated as well. It goes back to the Manitoba Act, where they simply state that any White blood, no matter how faint, any Indian blood no matter how faint, qualifies them as half-breeds, and it therefore entitles them to one of the various grants or entitlements.

In terms of the definition that came forward from the implementation of the Manitoba Act and the thinking of the North-West scrip commissions, nothing said you do not qualify for scrip unless you wear a sash or unless you say that you are a member of the Metis Nation. There were no cultural or political identity qualifications for this. It was to deal with an interest in the Indian title that created a property right. The definition was very convenient and simple in that it simply said the presence, no matter how faint, of White blood, and the presence, no matter how faint, of Indian blood creates a mixed blood or half-breeds that qualify for this.

The applications that were used in the North-West scrip were quite elaborate and detailed. In a certain sense, they were asking people if they considered themselves to be half-breeds. Usually there are three generations of information on these scrip applications, which have been put in a database, and part of them have been put up on a website so you can look at them for yourselves.

For three generations, generally, they ask who your parents are and whether your parents are White, Indian or half- breed. They ask for that sort of information on the mother and father. This provides information on the applicant and the children. There is considerable genealogical information in this process, and often it is backed up with ancillary documentation, such as copies of baptismal records.

The Chair: Was this confined to a specific area?

Mr. Tough: Yes, it was.

The Chair: What was that, sir?

Mr. Tough: It changes over time. In terms of today's reference, we would say Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, North of 60, Peace River country. Much of the scrip was created prior to those modern political boundaries that came in 1905 and 1912. In the original postage-stamp province of Manitoba, it was through the enactment of the Manitoba Act and a special piece of legislation in 1874 that that grant of $160 in money scrip is combined to that part. Elsewhere it is under the Dominion Lands Act. In the first lot of commissions, which went from 1885 to 1887, it was dealing with the treaty territories, so it was dealing with Treaties 1, 2 — sort of — 4, 5, 6, and 7. Actually, the commissions are explained in this attachment. I have mapped these out.

After that, the territory coincides with the treaty territory, and so with the adhesion to Treaty 6 in 1889, they not only take an Indian treaty adhesion but they deal with, in their view, the claims of the half-breeds. After that, it is always at the same time as treaty commissions. However, it did not occur for Treaty 9. It occurs for Treaty 8, Treaty 10, the adhesion to Treaty 5, and Treaty 11.

Senator Dyck: Dr. Tough, you focused a lot on scrip and you were talking about scrip application. Is it possible, or do you know that there are some communities that have been left out because they chose not to apply? Do we have any idea as to how accurate the scrip records are or whether, during the process, whoever was going out to collect the information, they actually went to all the places they were supposed to go to? In other words, it seems as though the database is to some extent reliant upon the validity of the scrip historical record.

Mr. Tough: It is, and any data process has mistakes and errors. At some points, they did invoke cut-offs. As someone who has been involved with the database of all these applications, there sure seems to be a lot of them.

There was some flexibility. For example, someone had missed a commission in '87. First, they could also apply in writing. Up to about 1892, a lot of applications were submitted, either at a local Dominion Lands Office or directly to Ottawa. Often they had the encouragement of some scrip purchasers.

I suppose the area where there might be some ambiguity concerns is what they referred to as ``Metis born in the British territory'' and then had taken up residence in the United States. At one time there was a controversy because it seemed to be totally driven by speculation. In fact, scrip commissions did take applications of Canadian Metis residing in the United States in places like Lethbridge. You have to look at the individual cases in terms of whether or not their residency at any particular point in time affected their qualifications for scrip, but we have the application then.

I think the coverage is not too bad. Possibly one error — and I think the commissioners were attentive to it — is that people without that faint bit of White blood — that is, pure-blooded Indians — would be encouraged by the value of scrip to apply for scrip. There was a controversy in northern Alberta in respect of people applying for scrip who really were not Metis. That became controversial and the system had to respond to it.

I do not think there are large numbers of people left out. In fact, we do get a lot of people applying twice.

Senator Dyck: As you may know, our committee went on a two-week trip to Western Canada and the Northwest Territories. We heard from a couple of communities where they felt they had been left out of identification as Metis. It seemed, if I remember correctly, that in some cases they were communities that were in the northern part of what is now the Prairies or in the Northwest Territories, which were fur trade posts and which may or may not have been part of Hudson's Bay; they might have been the North West Company. There seems to be this thread that somehow they were not enumerated as being Metis by the scrip system or whatever other system.

Is that possible? In fact, we were given a copy of the book in B.C., which I have not yet had a chance to read, which talks about communities that were left out.

Mr. Tough: I do not have expert knowledge on the B.C. situation. We do know that the treaty scrip commission visited the Peace River country, but we do not have applications for people residing in the Peace River country that I have been able to find. I do not know to what extent the nature of the entitlement affected where the commissioners were willing to make these grants.

However, in the case of the Peace River country, those were dominion lands, federal lands.

Senator Dyck: You said in your presentation that you had a map. Does that outline what might be considered to be the Metis homeland?

Mr. Tough: I have reflected on what might be considered the Metis homeland, based not so much on scrip applications but on other factors. I sometimes show that map in a PowerPoint, but I have not provided it here. In fact, I am quite at a loss, as a professor, trying to speak without PowerPoint; it really throws me.

Be that as it may, I am trying to work on the historical geography of the Metis Nation, and I am beginning with the fur trade and the notion that the parkland was of central purpose to the Metis homeland. You had the large concentration of Red River, which I regard as a metropolis of the Metis Nation, not the only Metis. I do not subscribe to the view, as sometimes it is misrepresented by others, that all Metis have to have some connection to Red River. Red River is simply the metropolis of the Metis Nation, a metropolis of the fur trade.

At the other end of the Carleton Trail that travels through the parkland is the Fort Edmonton area, Lac Ste. Anne and St. Albert, where you have another large concentration of Metis people. That system is the backbone, and relating out of that you have a network of cart trails.

The fur trade unified three environmental zones: the grasslands, the parklands and the bush in the North. They were unified by the fur trade systems of transport and commerce. The Metis played an important role in that. The York boat brigades travelled from Red River up to the port and then up to York Factory, which was the transport backbone of the fur-trade system. Often this was done by half-breeds or Metis and it created a network.

On the land that network was created through the cart trails. What ended up happening is that pemmican was moved from the grasslands by the Metis in their carts into the parklands, and the Hudson's Bay Company purchased this pemmican and distributed it in the North. You then had a net transfer of calories into the North, because these people would have had a hard time without it. The fur trade unified this. The Metis played important roles.

Large district headquarters are often also the place where you get a half-breed or Metis population because of the employment created by the fur trade and the seasonal labour pool that they specialized in. There is a historical geography to the Metis people. I am trying to approach it first from what these networks are that existed prior to 1870 and to what extent they corresponded to people who identified as being Metis or half-breeds.

Senator Patterson: Thank you for the excellent presentation.

Professor Tough, you said at the outset that scrip was intended to ``extinguish'' Indian title, I think was the term you used, yet Metis now claim scrip as proof of their descendants and their Aboriginal rights. You know that we are focusing in our study on how to define ``Metis.''

Could you say how important your research on scrip is in helping us to determine who is Metis in light of the recognition as having Aboriginal rights in the Constitution?

Mr. Tough: Unlike other Aboriginal people, such as those registered under the Indian Act — and we may object to the terms and conditions that are applied — the Government of Canada did not create a registry of Metis people. Any meaningful benefits flowing from Aboriginal rights have to be able to define the beneficiaries. Through a combination of various historical documents, I believe that objective and verifiable information can come forward on the genealogies of people whose descendants can trace back through family trees and genealogies.

There is the northwest half-breed scrip system. There is also an affidavit collected in Manitoba for the children's grant and the adult scrip. We refer to those as the Manitoba affidavits. None of this is actually perfect; they were not thinking about our needs 120 years ago. The way they organized data is challenging to a social scientist today.

Another key document is the 1901 census. The 1901 census might be referred to as a racial census. Everyone was given a Y, R, W or a B. It was under the heading of colour, whether they were Red, White, Black or Yellow, and by that they meant racial categories, not your skin tone. We have a racial count in Canada. The other thing that they were instructed to pay close attention to was the mixing of Indian and White blood. These people were to be identified as French breeds — I know this language is very objectionable but this is the technical language that was used — and Scottish Cree half-breeds. They were to fill those in.

The census enumerators were not always competent and did not always follow the instructions, but the 1901 census provides us with some insight into the names of people who had mixed blood. This information is detailed at the level of the individual, the family and geographical areas.

The interesting thing is that, as I understand it, the Government of Canada and the court system believes that since 1870 there has always been a clear distinction between First Nations Indians, who are Aboriginal, and the Metis who are not Indians. However, you do not find this clear distinction in the census of 1901. Both First Nations and Metis people were colour-coded with an R. In that case they did not distinguish between them.

To the extent that the challenge of whom the beneficiaries of the rights are, a great deal of work has been done. It is not an impossible task. These records will assist. People can create the verified objective, documented family trees that will take them back from the 1901 census into this entitlement process, and they can go back into fur trade records. There are considerable fur trade records in the West that will show this beginning of a people, where a mixing of blood was a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition. A necessary condition concerns the social, political and economic factors that contribute to the development of a new people. In my opinion — and my research tells me this — a lot of it has to do with the fur trade.

Senator Patterson: You say this can be researched and documented and there is quite a bit of evidence that can be gathered. Obviously you have done a great deal of work yourself in this connection. Is that gathering of research and historical data around the fur trade and the networks, as you described it, a project that should be undertaken to help resolve this burning question that our committee is addressing?

Mr. Tough: I would recommend that the empirical work based on written historical documents continue, yes.

Senator Patterson: It is fascinating to hear the stories you tell about the abuse of the scrip system, which we have certainly heard about in our work. I know you are based in Alberta, and I think the Province of Alberta is unique in Canada in having granted Metis lands. Could you comment on that? Was that action on the part of the government, in your view, a response to the injustices that have been uncovered?

Mr. Tough: Yes, I believe so. First, we have the L'Hirondelle case. They go to court and try that case. It does not work out. We get evidence of how the scrip system was really operating.

We have a petition that goes to Prime Minister Meighen on November 11, goes to the Department of the Interior. We have a five-page internal memorandum and the two-page response to Atkinson and Lafferty. Before that, people in Ottawa are aware that there are serious problems with the location of land scrip that amount to perjury, impersonation and fraud. They do not actually admit that in their response to the petition to Lafferty and Atkinson. At the end they say if you do have a case you can take it to court under fraud.

The firm of McDougall & Secord were very much involved in the acquisition of money and land scrip. There is a case with respect to a complaint made about what had happened with Elizabeth Hislop's scrip. Flora Taylor testifies for some time about it. It is taken seriously enough that there will be a proper court hearing on it. There is debate in the Senate afterwards. You have the amendment, 1140 of the Criminal Code, and then the debate is about, well, was it done for Richard Secord? Perhaps it was a coincidence, right? Lougheed makes it sound like housekeeping. The problem with that argument is, when you look at what is in 1140, there is not a long list of limitations on prosecution. Certainly they did not turn around and then say, ``We need to try this limitation on other tenures of the Dominion Lands Act.'' They did not go on and say, ``If there is fraud with respect to homestead or coal lease or a ranching lease, there is a three-year limit of prosecution.'' At this time, the three-year limit prosecution came because almost all of the land scrip had been located by then, so it basically shuts down any prosecution on the question of fraud.

My other curiosity about this is there seemed to be no interest in the Department of the Interior about the fact that a public Crown asset was being obtained under dubious circumstances. There is the problem of the entitlement of the individual Metis, but there is also the public Crown interest in the lands which are being obtained in a curious sort of way.

Once all of a sudden this happens, then there is great debate about whether it was retrospective or not. If you read through, we provide some of them in the attachments. One of my recommendations is that the Journals and the Debates of both Houses of Parliament should be online. I was trying to put some of this together to get better copies, but it is not online, which is astonishing, actually. The originals are very well indexed so you can do your own research on that.

Once that happens, it becomes a huge controversy in Alberta. Then there is the election in 1921 and the fall of the Unionist government. Of all of the seats in Alberta — I know you want to check this out for yourself — not a single Conservative was elected. It was the Progressive Party, the United Farmers of Alberta and Labour. This issue had become a political issue in the election campaign, and Meighen attributed it as part of the reason why they lost seats in Alberta. The United Farmers of Alberta, which became also the provincial Government of Alberta, had knowledge of the operation of the scrip system. This goes directly to your point about whether there is any connection. They actually campaigned on that issue up until the late 1920s.

The other contributing factor is this is the Metis getting organized themselves and making allies with people. Part of the impetus for the organization of the Metis in Alberta has been focused on this problem of scrip fraud. The United Farmers of Alberta are still in power in 1930. They set up a commission. The commission comes forward. The commission does not explicitly base the rationale for the lands on any sort of right or title or past problems. You will not find that in there. The connection is the Metis drive to organize themselves politically, and a government, the United Farmers of Alberta, are aware and somewhat sympathetic with this problem, and then the Social Credit Party makes this legislation in the late 1930s.

I believe that this activity, particularly in the province of Alberta, was a contributing factor to setting aside a large land base for the Metis of Alberta.

Senator Raine: This is a fascinating subject that you have been researching, and one that most Canadians are totally unaware of.

My question goes back to the actual scrip commissions that travelled across enumerating half-breeds, as you say, based on any amount of mixture of blood.

When they did that and the purpose for enumeration was to issue a piece of paper to people who probably could not read, having done a fair amount of research on this, do you think the people at the time realized what that piece of paper was for, what it meant? It obviously had a value because I would say that shortly after receiving the paper people wanted to give them money for it.

Do you think that, for the most part when they sold their scrip, it was because they did not want to take up any land for some reason?

Mr. Tough: There are sort of two questions there. The first one is the problem of informed knowledge of the process. I would say that they did not have good information about it. We know this because most of the scrip applications, most declarations, are signed with an ``X.'' I also think they would not have good knowledge that by consenting to apply for scrip that they were somehow giving up any interest they had in Indian title. I do not think that is evident. There are no real questions on most of the applications. As wonderfully standardized as they are, it drives me nuts trying to make a database when they ask slightly different questions from commission to commission. There is nothing in there that says ``I am consenting to given up Indian title by applying for scrip. I am consenting to give up all of my Aboriginal rights.'' There is it nothing of that nature in there.

I think that the term ``coupon'' captures the relationship, and that is it was something that was of interest to some other party more than the actual grantee.

Senator Raine: I think commissions were seeking out people who were being given scrip in order to extinguish demands; they wanted to limit the number of people they agreed to look after, if you like.

Do you think there was intent to give something with a monetary value to people who were not interested and did not want to stay on one piece of land and be a farmer? These people were not farmers.

Mr. Tough: Many of them were not. Many of them had subsistence gardening at Red River.

Senator Raine: They already had a place for that and they had a garden.

Mr. Tough: Yes. If they were occupying river frontage, up to a certain period of time the Department of the Interior would survey river lots for settled communities outside Red River. That happens in places like Prince Albert, although it gets extremely bureaucratic around the survey system.

There is a disconnect between the treaty process and in dealing with the Metis on the southern prairies. They did not get into dealing with things in Manitoba until the 1870s. By 1876, Treaty 6 was done. With the commissions in 1885, 1886 and 1887, as I think your question was inferring, people withdrew from treaty. People are allowed to withdraw to apply for scrip and they give up their Indian status. This amounts to about 29 per cent of the claims that are recognized and affirmed in the period of those commissions. Some of them then go back into treaty.

William Pearce, who was involved with the Department of the Interior and was a surveyor for a number of years, saw that as an attempt using scrip to reduce the number of treaty people and therefore, I believe in your words, people that would have to be looked after. Scrip could be used to that end.

Also, of course, if a band with reserve land base lost many of its members because of people applying for scrip, then there is pressure to surrender the reserve because there are less members and less need for land, so why not surrender part of it? This actually gets quite intricate.

The Chair: Professor, do you work at all with the Métis National Council?

Mr. Tough: I have a research relationship. I know President Clément Chartier quite well. Basically, when there was a good flow of money under the post-Powley implementation, that money came to the University of Alberta as research contracts. I conducted research for the Métis National Council not as a private consultant but in a contractual relationship with the University of Alberta. That is why we know what we know, and that is why we had an online historical database built, which provides text summaries. There are a few broken links and copies of the original documents.

There is also a component that allows Metis individuals to build their own family tree online. One of the first things it does is runs off and looks for all sorts of possible matches. It is very organized. It is hosted by the University of Alberta. It is publicly accessible. The big complaint about my database is that I need to put more data up there.

The Chair: In your research, have you tried to determine what the thought process was in 1982 when Metis were added to section 35 of the Constitution?

Mr. Tough: No, but there were participants. I occasionally watched on television.

As a non-Aboriginal person, it seems so logical that they are an Aboriginal people with existing rights and should be included in the Constitution. With respect to how that occurred, there are some people who object to it because it was politically expedient. I do not think that is particularly relevant any more than the Magna Carta was politically expedient on the part of the sovereign when faced with a lot of pressure.

As a non-Aboriginal person, it makes a great deal of sense. I would go further to say that in our original British North America Act, Indians and lands reserved for Indians could easily be read as Aboriginals and lands reserved for Aboriginals.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Honourable senators, we have to go in camera now. I would like to thank Professor Tough for joining us this morning, for his presentation and for bringing his expertise and professionalism to the subject at hand.

There is supporting documentation, but it is not fully translated. I believe that if I had a motion from the members of the committee and unanimous support, we could allow this and make it available to committee members. They are historical documents; some of them are not translated. In fact, many of them are not translated.

If it is the wish of the committee to move a motion that this be made available to committee members, I would entertain that motion.

Senator Dyck: So moved.

The Chair: All those in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Carried unanimously. The information will be made available to members of the committee.

Thank you again, Professor Tough.

(The committee continued in camera.)


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