Amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company and North West Company

Following the amalgamation of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company in 1821, the type of employment that Indigenous men were able to secure changed drastically. Before the amalgamation of the two companies, Indigenous men were paid an equal salary to their European counterparts, and were able to work in a wide range of positions. Some men were even able to secure the coveted position of officer. Their skills as hunters and trappers were valued, and men with ambition, regardless of ethnicity, were rewarded with more responsibility and more prestigious positions. However, after the amalgamation in 1821, Indigenous men were no longer afforded the luxury of vertical movement within the company. They were confined to servant/labour jobs and were openly discriminated against. It also became a rarity for Indigenous men to secure contracted work, which they had done previously. Instead, they were often restricted to being hired only seasonally. The Hudson's Bay Company also used Indigenous workers as a means of controlling European workers. They had Indigenous men perform tasks that the European men refused to do, and the company hired Indigenous workers at a lower wage than European workers to drive competition at a time where jobs were scarce.

Other Note

Some Indigenous individuals were hired as apprentices in the skilled trades (carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.); however, Indigenous men in these positions did not experience promotions to the higher positions with a comparable wage. An alternative for Indigenous men hoping to earn more money was to conduct trade outside the monopoly company. This became very lucrative for certain Indigenous peoples based in the Red River area.

The amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company had profoundly negative implications for Indigenous men. The amalgamations saw the implementation of a hierarchy that was based on ethnicity. Indigenous men were excluded from economic mobility and were left only with the positions at the very bottom of the hierarchy. Without the opportunity to advance economically, many Indigenous men were doing intense physical labour for very little pay, failing to compensate men for the work they performed resulted in poverty wages. This hierarchy is indicative of the relationship between Indigenous men and broader European/Canadian society. They struggled to find consistent and meaningful work due to the way that settler society saw Indigenous men, and were given little to no opportunity for social mobility because of social prejudice.
Rural or Urban
Start Date
End Date
Sub Event
Decline in work for Indigenous men