Indian Affairs Begins Distributing Welfare as Cheques or Cash

In 1959, Indian Affairs began distributing welfare payments as cheques or cash. The amount of assistance was also raised to be on par with distributions to non-Indigenous people. Prior to this policy change, Indian Agents would manage the intake of welfare transfers and distribute necessary goods instead, or provide a list of approved goods that individuals could obtain from a local trader.


SAB, R-907.2, J.H Brockelbank Papers, v. II, f. 12, "J.J. Wheaton, Northern Administrator," Report, meeting of prov. and fed. reps. of Dept. of Indian Affairs, 7 October 1947; RG10, C-8009, vol. 6914, file 672/28-3 vol. 2

Towards the end of the 1950's, a new welfare philosophy emerged which was no longer concerned with simply sustaining the physical life of destitute Indigenous people. Rather, it was now directed towards advancing Indigenous people to the same standard of living as non-Indigenous Canadians. Prior to this policy change, Indian Agents had a disproportional amount of control on goods and welfare, which would undoubtedly lead to abuses of power. An Indian Agent's ability to determine welfare and ration distribution would have been subject to bias, misunderstanding, or purposefully withheld from Indigenous peoples - as was seen perpetuated by government officials in previous years.
Rural or Urban
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