Pasqua and Muscowpetung Petition to Government of Canada


In 1893 various grievances were brought to the attention of the Canadian government in a petition, including: refusing to provide aid to those unable to work; Indian agent disrupting First Nations sales of commodities; being forced to work for meager payment, and the need for rations to be issued.

This petition, along with other examples (see Bounty and Benevolence 190-192), highlight that First Nations signatories of Treaty 4 understood that their pact with the Crown included a guarantee of government assistance sufficient to enable them to maintain themselves when the arrival of new settlers impacted traditional subsistence methods. Problems surrounded the implementation of Treaty 4, as many First Nations signatories in the subsequent years reported that the government was not preventing famine, preserving their livelihoods or their sovereignty. Also, First Nations leaders did not speak or write English fluently, and thus relied on interpreters and the integrity of oral agreements during the negotiations. Some of these agreements were not included in the written documents. As well, there is a demonstrated pattern in the implementation of Treaties 4, 6 and 8 of the Canadian government avoiding execution of aspects of written treaty documents to curb their spending. For an example, please see "Provisioning of rations described as humanitarian rather than legal obligation (Treaty 6)".

NA, MG29 E106, Reed Papers, vol. 20, file March 1893, W.M. McGirr to Hayter Reed, 8 March 1893, enclosing typed copy of petition (To the Honourable the House of Commons, Ottawa) of 24 February 1893 from four Pasqua headmen (Charles Asham, Kahkakeesick, Howinacasa, and Johnny Asham) and three form Muscowpetung (Muscocaffa, A. Pisteenow, adn Keesick).