Lawrence Vankoughnet’s Memorandum


Beginning in the 1870s and 1880s, introduced disease and famine afflicted Northern Indigenous peoples, and fur prices tumbled due to a worldwide depression. As a result, communities sought aid from the Canadian government who had taken over the responsibility from the Hudson’s Bay Company. However, in 1887 Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs Lawrence Vankoughnet argued that despite the clear responsibility that the Canadian government had accepted to provide aid through the Rupert’s Land Transfer, life in the North had not been altered by Canadian settlement the and as such remained the responsibility of the HBC.

Despite having signed the Rupert's Land Transfer in 1899, which included fiduciary responsibility for the welfare of First Nations, communities suffered from state-imposed limitations, altered economic conditions, and received very limited governmental aid until the signing of the numbered treaties, in this case, Treaty 8. In many cases, even after the signing of treaties the government would refuse or withhold rations/aid on the premise of a "work for rations" system, or a desire to deny supply altogether.

PAC, RG10, BS, file 241209-1