Community Development Submission to Cabinet


In the 1960s, disparities between Indigenous welfare expenditures and settler welfare expenditures were significant, with spending on the former outweighing the latter. As a result, the government saw a need to counter the growing welfare expenditures. Walter Rudnicki pitched a community development program to cabinet which called on provinces to partially assume the expenses of health and welfare transfer payments. This proposal also vaguely focused on increased self-sufficiency for Indigenous peoples, although no concrete steps were outlined. Cabinet approved the program on May 28, 1964.

This program was, in effect, a large-scale integration (and assimilation) policy, as confirmed by Rudnicki had confirmed himself. It was believed that removing the fiduciary obligation of Indigenous welfare from the federal government and distributing it to provincial and band governments would remove the status of Indigenous peoples (at this time, status only applied to First Nations as Inuit and Métis). The Government argued that status supposedly prevented them from being economically responsible, permitting 'dependence on federal welfare.' Removing the status of Indigenous peoples at this time threatened the protections and Treaty rights that had been agreed upon by signatories nearly a century prior. This would allow the government to legally steam-roll Indigenous peoples with a new access to Indigenous lands and resources as title to them would be extinguished with the removal of 'status.'

NAC, RG-10, CR Series, Vol. 8194, File 1/29-6, Part 3, Memorandum to Cabinet, 'Community Development, Indian Affairs Branch,' February 1964, with covering memorandum to the Deputy Minister, C.M Isbister from R.F Battle, Director, Indian Affairs Branch, Ottawa, n.d, items 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9

Sub Event
Community Development Submission to Cabinet