The 1917 Soldier Settlement Act aimed to ease the transition to civilian life by making Western homesteads available to all veterans following the end of the First World War. Instead of granting land in the southern boreal forest, as was the original plan, they sought better agricultural land in the form of reserve “surpluses” instead. Six reserves surrendered over 72,000 acres of land for this veteran resettlement. However, Aboriginal veterans were not eligible for this land under the Soldier Settlement Act. Aboriginal veterans were granted location tickets for land on reserves – which could be granted without band council approval -- instead of the 160 acres that were promised to other veterans, and the loans available to them to purchase farming supplies were much smaller.
The Soldier Settlement Act was created in 1917. Reserve land surrenders did not begin until the Act's revision on July 7, 1919.
Regina Leader 18 July, 1918.
Several reserves in the province lost land as a result of this act. They included Big River (980 acres), Mistawasis (17,000 acres), Ochpowace (18,240), Piapot (16,960), Poorman’s (8,080), Wood Mountain (5,760); the land was now uavailable for on-reserve agricultural development and farming, hunting, trapping, housing, and various activities (as it was illegal for a ‘status Indian’ to be off reserve without written permission of the Indian Agent). This follows a larger pattern of erosion of reserve land bases in Saskatchewan, which began in the early 1900s as several reserves engaged in land surrenders. Please see the related entries on land surrenders - various circumstances accompanied these surrenders, including coercion.
Reserve Land Surrenders
An Act to Assist Returned Soldiers in settling upon the Land and to increase Agricultural production