Joe Amyotte worked to raise the living standards for Metis people in Saskatchewan, focusing specifically on creating access to education and housing.
In an interview with Joe Amyotte (attached under Resources below), he notes that housing conditions of the Metis were worse in Northern Saskatchewan. He also describes how previous experiences attemping Metis political organization made it difficult to engage in grassroots mobilization (i.e., receiving racism/mockery from white settlers for their past efforts), and in turn advocate for improvements that would allow them to attain a higher quality of living conditions. He also describes the low level of educational attainment amongst the Metis, which is corroborated by several testimonies of Metis individuals in Saskatchewan who cite lack of access to a school within their area as the barrier which prevented them from obtaining an education. Some of these individuals also cite that family circumstances of poverty required them to begin working and end their school career early. In another section of the interview, Amyotte says that because of the intiatives of the Metis Society of Saskatchewan, schools were established in Green Lake, Beauval, La Ronge, La Loche, Qu'Appelle, to name a few. There were 35 schools that he initiated across the province in total. These schools were discontinued in 1969 when the leadership of the Metis Society of Saskatchewan changed. Mr. Amyotte does not disclose the reasons why.
Education and housing programs were implemented under Joe Amyotte's leadership of the Metis Society of Saskatchewan. These programs were intended to correct crises of poverty and housing widely experienced by the Metis of Saskatchewan as a result of land dispossession and no access to education.
A lack of political representation and agency resulted in significant economic disparities for the Metis, of which low educational attainment and housing crises were symptomatic. Efforts to organize politically were severely hindered by previous experiences of racism inflicted by non-Indigenous people on the Metis. As well, the inability to obtain education, or a complete education, lessens job prospects in the future, preventing social mobility. In an interview from Judy Badgerly, she reports the impact of poor quality housing such as the difficulty of keeping heat in the home and engaging in daily chores like laundry. Living conditions have a large impact on the ability of humans to function psychologically as crowding and disrepair can increase stress and exacerbate mental health conditions. Poor housing conditions such as crowding, mold and lack of ventilation can also cause physical illness.
- Amyotte, Joe. Interview by Murray Dobbin. Transcript. August 11, 1977. Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture. Gabriel Dumont Institute. http://www.metismuseum.ca/resource.php/01181
- Judy Badgerly, Interview by Cheryl Troupe. Transcript. May 12, 2003. Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture. Gabriel Dumont Institute. http://www.metismuseum.ca/resource.php/14940