Establishment of Sturdy Committee on Aboriginal Affairs

The CCF government's integration policy began to take shape in the spring of 1956, when the cabinet established a Committee on Indian Affairs chaired by J.H. Sturdy. The committee's report became the basis for the government's policy. The report included three specific proposals: enfranchisement, removal of restrictions on the sale of liquor to Aboriginal peoples, and the transfer of responsibility for Indian affairs from the federal to the provincial government.


Douglas Papers, R-33.1 XVL 864d (49) 4.6, Provincial Conference of Saskatchewan Indian Chiefs and Councillors, 30 and 31 October 1958.

Pitsula, James. "The Saskatchewan CCF Government and Treaty Indians, 1944-1964." Canadian Historical Review 75, no. 1 (1994): 23-30.

Waiser, Bill. Saskatchewan: A New History. Calgary: Fifth House, 2005.

The lack of consultation with Aboriginal peoples worried Aboriginal leaders, and the federation of Saskatchewan Indians (FSI), who feared that, if carried out, the recommendations would impact their treaty rights. The government expected widespread approval of their plan, but when the report was announced Douglas agreed not to make any changes without the approval and consultation of Indigenous communities. In addition, Aboriginal organizations voiced concerns over enfranchisement. Since "enfranchisement" was a term used in the Indian Act to describe the legal process whereby someone would lose their 'Indian status,' the use of the term "franchise" by the government caused some leaders to view this as a final step towards integration and assimilation into Canadian settler society. Please see "Sturdy Committee Investigates Transfer of Jurisdiction" entry for additional information.
Rural or Urban
Scholarly Debate

Voting and drink reform, of course, did not revolutionize the lives of Indians. The FSI leadership made no attempt to have the franchise repealed and many, including John Tootoosis, were simply happy to have the issue behind them. By the same token, the rank and file seemingly acquiesced to the changes with either quiet indifference or passive acceptance. While some communities now became the subject of intense lobbying during elections, Indian participation in the larger political process remained only marginal and seldom altered the rhythm of reserve life. By the same token, the new liquor laws did not significantly modify the pattern of alcohol use, although the provision for reserve referenda did serve to localize and intensify the drink issue in reserve communities across the province. While provincial politicians were quick to admit that the new reforms did not, in themselves, fully integrate Indians into the wider society, they professed to see these measures as an important step in that direction.”


Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: the native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 136-137.


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