Changes to Provisions for Family Allowance


The Department of National Health and Welfare decided to supply specific foods, rather than direct payment of funding to First Nations peoples and Inuit who were already receiving Family Allowances.  The federal government felt that those on Family Allowance would be 'irresponsible' with their allowance; Instead, the government regulated the distribution of goods so that family allowances could only be used for particular foods.  This prohibited Indigenous families from purchasing other necessary items and took a paternalistic view that assumed Indigenous guardians were not capable of caring for their families. Additionally, food insecurity was only exacerbated by the changes in access to game. mobility restriction on and off reserves, and environmental degradation due to resource development/extraction that came as a result of westward settlement.

This event is an example of a lack of consultation with Indigenous peoples, and of paternalistic government practices that undermined the autonomy of Indigenous peoples and creating a hostile environment where it was increasingly difficult to survive.

NAC, RG-10, CR Series, Vol. 7094, File 1/10-3-0, Letter to all Indian Superintendents, Regional Supervisors of Indian Agencies and the Indian Commissioner for British Columbia, from H.M Jones, Director, Indian Affairs Branch, Ottawa, 7 August 1956.