The Saskatchewan CCF Government and Treaty Indians, 1944-1964


From the Author's Abstract: "Indian policy making in Canada is examined, with a focus on CCF rule in Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1964. On examination, the Saskatchewan policy shows a remarkable congruity with the basic principles of the "Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 1969," which is now seen as a symbol of the government's insensitivity and ineptitude in the field of Indian policy." Pg 21. -------------------------------- From the Author's Full Text: "This essay shifts the focus from Ottawa to the provincial level, analysing CCF rule in Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1964. Saskatchewan, for various reasons, is a good candidate for study. It had, according to the 1961 census, the highest proportion of people of Indian ancestry compared with the total population of any province in the country.(f.11) Both Premiers T.C. Douglas (1944 61)(f.12) and Woodrow Lloyd (1961 -4)(f.13) had a strong personal interest in Indian welfare, and the CCF as a party was committed to improving the lot of disadvantaged groups. The result of this combination of circumstances was a high level of activity in the field of Indian policy making. Examination of Saskatchewan policy reveals a remarkable congruity with the basic principles of the 1969 white paper. The conceptualizing of the 'Indian dilemma' and the prescription of remedies were virtually identical. Both the CCF government and the white paper argued that 'equality' or 'non - discrimination' was the key to solving Indian problems. Equality of individual rights was to be achieved by eliminating special status, dismantling the Indian Affairs department, and transferring to the provinces responsibility for administering services to Indians.(f.14) Although Saskatchewan CCF policy was not quite as harsh as the white paper in that it did not recommend repeal of the Indian Act or termination of the treaties in the near future, it shared the long - term goal of treating Indians the same way as all other Canadians are treated. Seen from this perspective,the white paper was not a Trudeauite aberration, but rather was firmly grounded in the 'progressive' opinion of the previous decades. ------------------------------------------- The notion that Indians should constitute a distinct, self - governing entity separate from the rest of the population was completely alien to the Saskatchewan CCF. As Douglas told the Regina Welfare Council in 1959, 'Reservations are becoming insufficient to hold the increasing Indian population. The solution is for the Indians to integrate into white society.'(f.15) 'Integration' differed only slightly from 'assimilation' in that the former, while demanding conformity to the values of the dominant culture, tolerated vestigial ethnic traditions. The integrationist approach led to three specific initiatives: the granting of the provincial franchise to Indians, extension of equal liquor rights, and the effort to have responsibility for Indian affairs transferred from federal to provincial jurisdiction. They were all based on the principle that citizens in a democracy should be treated equally and should relate to government institutions in the same way." Pg 22.

Publication Information

Pitsula, James. "The Saskatchewan CCF Government and Treaty Indians, 1944-1964." Canadian Historical Review 75, no. 1 (1994): 21-52.

Pitsula, James M
Publication Date
Primary Resource