CCF Actively Discourages Métis Identification


In 1949, CCF attempts to undermine Métis sovereignty and leadership ultimately disintegrated Métis political organization within Saskatchewan with few funds or attention being allocated to the SMS (Saskatchewan Métis Society); along with Douglas’ focus on the newly formed Union of Saskatchewan Indians, Métis leadership and concerns were often overshadowed or ignored altogether. In this way, the CCF were able to proceed implementing their Aboriginal policy reform in Saskatchewan without having to recognize Métis perspectives.



This was clearly illustrated in 1952 when the Green Lake Co-operative Association was advised by the resident director of the Saskatchewan Marketing Services not to include the word 'Métis' in the name of their organization. As he explained, T strongly urged them not to use the word ... since we are looking forward to the day when all citizens of Saskatchewan are of equal status, regardless of race, colour and creed. I therefore urged them not to brand themselves with any name indicating special race or colour.” Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: the native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 39-40.  

Efforts to curb Métis identification in the 1950s both individually and organizationally were intended to integrate Métis provincially into the CCF’s new vision of Saskatchewan society. By discouraging self-determination and denying unique Métis status, CCF officials actively prevented access to resources, programs, and most importantly land for Métis who have traditionally been dispossessed from their homelands due to westward expansion/colonization. The CCF also opposed to Métis political organization as they feared a provincially united Métis would prevent CCF reforms.

  • Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: The Native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 39-40.  





Blakeney Government Implements the Saskatchewan Formula


The Blakeney government implemented the Saskatchewan formula, which proposed that land entitlements would be based on First Nation band populations from December 31, 1976 rather than the time that treaties were signed. Action was delayed as Ottawa and Regina fought about the land and money required. A handful of Treaty Land Entitlement claims eventually went forward, including that of the Lucky Man band which received a reserve in the Battleford area 110 years after it had entered treaty (1879). (Waiser, Saskatchewan: A New History, 444).

There are three major types of claims in Saskatchewan: specific, surrender, and land entitlement. A specific claim arises when a First Nation alleges that the federal government has not lived up to its obligations under treaty or other agreement or legal responsibility (see Table FNLC-1). According to Canada’s land claim policy, a valid specific claim exists when a First Nation can demonstrate that Canada has an outstanding lawful obligation as follows: the non-fulfillment of a treaty or agreement; a breach of an Indian Act or other statutory obligation; the mishandling of Indian funds or assets; or an illegal sale or disposition of Indian land. Canada will also consider claims that go beyond what is considered to be a lawful obligation, usually including failure to compensate a band for reserve land taken or damaged under government authority; or fraud by federal employees in connection with the purchase or sale of Indian land.

A Treaty Land Entitlement claim occurs when a First Nation alleges that the Canadian government did not provide the reserve land promised under treaty. For some, this means that no reserve land was received; for others, that the correct amount was not received…

In September 1992, twenty-five First Nations, the province of Saskatchewan and the Canadian government signed the Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement... Under the terms of the agreement, the First Nations with outstanding entitlements will receive approximately $539 million over twelve years to purchase just over two million acres of land. As of February 2004, 596,010 acres had attained reserve status. When the TLE process is completed, reserve land will account for just over 2% of the provincial land base. Presently about 1% of the land base is reserve land, but the status Indian population constitutes about 10% of the province’s population.”

Nestor, Rob. “Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.” University of Regina. Accessed July 2020.





Sixties Scoop and Child Apprehension


Up until the 1950s, there were discrepanices between federal and provincial responsibility for First Nations health and family services. This jurisdictional grey-area led to conflicts over which governing body was responsible for the provision of these services to First Nations youth and families. The Federal and Provincial governments decided that the responsiblity over health and family welfare fell to the provinces.

"The process began in 1951, when amendments to the Indian Act gave the provinces jurisdiction over Indigenous child welfare (Section 88) where none existed federally...With no additional financial resources, provincial agencies in 1951 inherited a litany of issues surrounding children and child welfare in Indigenous communities. With many communities under-serviced, under-resourced and under the control of the Indian Act, provincial child welfare agencies chose to remove children from their homes rather than provide community resources and supports." Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam James, and Sharon Dainard. "Sixties Scoop." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. November 13, 2020. 

It was through the provincial child welfare agencies that Indigenous youth were apprehended and placed into non-Indigenous families and child welfare programs. The Federal Government claimed no fiduciary obligation or responsibility to Métis families and children, and thus the provincies were responsible. The apprehension of Indigenous children and youth from their families and communities came to be known as the “Sixties Scoop.”  Indigenous children were stolen from their families and communities, and adopted into predominantly white, middle-class families. Despite its name, "Scooping" Indigenous children from their families and communities was not isolated to the 1960s; the practices continued both before and after the 1960s, some of these practices continue today. This is demonstrated in the disproportionately high rates of Indigenous children caught within the Child Welfare System. 

"It is well-known that Indigenous children are over-represented in both the child protection and justice systems in Saskatchewan and across Canada. Year after year, the deaths and injuries we review are a stark reminder of this dark reality. In 2021, 22 of the 24 deaths (92%) and 23 of the 29 critical injuries/incidents (79%) that came to our attention involved Indigenous children and youth." (Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, 2021 Annual Report, 34).

Indigenous Children in Care (Child Welfare), 2019


 As of 2019, Saskatchewan Social Services Ministry reported that 86% of children in care are Indigenous (Global News). Statistics Canada reported that in 2016, Indigenous peoples represented 16.3% of Saskatchewan's total population (Statistics Canada, Focus on Geography Series, 2016).  

The Sixties Scoop experience left many adoptees with a lost sense of cultural identity. The physical and emotional separation from their birth families continues to affect adult adoptees and Indigenous communities to this day.

In Saskatchewan, particularly the Northern region, Indigenous children were taken or ‘scooped’ from their communities and generally relocated to white families in colonial settlements. Under the administration of the provincial CCF (the pre-cursor to the NDP), scooping children from the North was deemed necessary because Northern foster care was  reportedly unable to meet capacity. But of course, scooping Indigenous children from their home communities fostered a social and cultural disconnect that aligned with Canada's ultimate goal of assimliation and cultural homogeny. Scooping children contributed to assimilation by disconnecting Indigenous youth from their ancestral lands, families, communities, resources, and livelihoods. Many Indigenous children who were scooped at birth or an early age were not told of their relocation or Indigenous kinship by their adoptive guardians, and only found out later in life.     

"The department of Indigenous Affairs indicates that the number of Indigenous children adopted between 1960 and 1990 was 11,132. However, more recent research suggests upwards of more than 20,000 First NationMétis and Inuit children were removed from their homes. Many children were also sent abroad, some as far away as New Zealand. Depending on the source, in 1981 alone, 45 to 55 per cent of children were adopted by American families." Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam James, and Sharon Dainard. "Sixties Scoop." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. November 13, 2020. 

Newspaper advertisements for the Adopt Indian and Métis Program, late 1960s, Saskatchewan.

"The long-lasting effects of the Sixties Scoop on adult adoptees are considerable, ranging from a loss of cultural identity to low self-esteem and feelings of shame, loneliness and confusion. Since birth records could not be opened unless both the child and parent consented, many adoptees learned about their true heritage late in life, causing frustration and emotional distress. While some adoptees were placed in homes with loving and supportive people, they could not provide culturally specific education and experiences essential to the creation of healthy, Indigenous identities. Some adoptees also reported sexual, physical and other abuse. These varied experiences and feelings led to long-term challenges with the health and livelihood of the adoptees. As a result, beginning in the 1990s, class action lawsuits against provincial governments have been pursued in OntarioAlbertaSaskatchewan and Manitoba, and are still before the courts." Sinclair, Niigaanwewidam James, and Sharon Dainard. "Sixties Scoop." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. November 13, 2020. 

Indigenous parents and their children continue to report ‘scooping’ through child welfare services with further placement into the foster system. For example, scooping through the practice of Birth Alerts wherein hospital staff alerts child welfare services if they deem the child ‘at risk’ from their parents. Parents are not informed of the action nor provide consent. Birth Alerts have historically and contemporarily targeted Indigenous mothers, inaccurate and unfair characterizations have included being unfit, or disengaged from their child. Birth Alerts have allowed hospitals authority over who is deemed ‘fit’ to parent a child, and these decisions are often informed by systemic racism, classist assumptions, and racial stereotypes.      

See Also: 





Newly Shared Responsibility of Aboriginal Services Between Provincial and Federal Government


In 1952, after pressure from the CCF on the Federal Government due to their failure in providing adequate services to Indigenous peoples across the province, the Federal Government transferred jurisdiction of welfare services for off-reserve Indigenous peoples in their entirety. The Department of Indian Affairs now claimed that any person living off reserve for more than a year were under the obligation of the provincial government. However, the transfer of welfare services was not accompanied by any financial assistance for the new responsibilities of the CCF. This meant that the new duty of delivering welfare services to a considerable population would be made ever the more difficult; without funding, services could not be fully implemented, adequately staffed, and resulted in under-serving communities the transfer meant to serve. The complex and confusing process of accessing provincial welfare services often discouraged Indigenous applicants and they frequently ran into uncooperative municipal employees.

To the federal government, in theory, once a status-Indian lived off reserve for over a year they would be assumed by provincial welfare, and incidentally, lost their status. This led to many of those living off reserve (who sought wage labour) in Saskatchewan to move back to their reserves in order to retain access to services provided by Indian Affairs, despite their inadequacy. The loss of status also posed great concern, as access to land and the right to live on their reserve would be threatened after the 12-month mark; undermining access to land directly harmed Indigenous peoples, while the government benefited as they would no longer have a fiduciary duty to any of these persons. These new changes to provincial welfare services, as has been continuously seen in service implementation, failed to address the needs of Indigenous peoples within Saskatchewan due to the paternalistic approach taken. Instead of allocating funds directly to Indigenous peoples, governments continued to fail in directing Aboriginal welfare services.



Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: the native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 121-122.




Impact of Housing Insecurity - Introductory Essay


The following essay provides a brief introduction on the effects caused by housing insecurity and poor quality housing, with attention paid to the disproportionate impacts for Indigenous peoples (see bibliography below):

The result of one hundred and fifty years of colonial government oppression has been the large number of Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) who live in poverty at levels below the LICO (Low Income Cut-Off). Indigenous peoples have been systematically disadvantaged by frequently being given the least productive reserves and farmland, being hindered by the pass system from selling the products of their labour, to work away from reserves for extended periods of time without losing their status, road allowances which kept Métis people impoverished, and the denial of economic and political self-determination due to paternalistic government policies. The cumulative effects of these and other assimilative government policies has been barriers to socioeconomic instability including unemployment, inaccessibility to education, poor health outcomes, addictions, and lateral violence.

Inaccessibility to affordable housing is fundamental to understanding these disparities, and creating access is imperative to establishing equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. Limited access to safe housing is something that affects multiple and frequently overlapping populations: immigrants, people with disabilities, working class people, Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour, people with addictions, people who have criminal records, youth who do not live with a parent/guardian, the elderly, queer and transgender people, single parents, and of course, people who are unhoused. In their pre-budget submission to the Department of Finance in 2003, the Assembly of First Nations noted, “The lack of quality housing contributes to social problems such as child poverty, suicide, low educational attainment, alcoholism, and family breakdowns” (Barnsley 2003).

Incidentally, aforementioned factors of poverty, unemployment, educational inaccessibility, lateral violence, and addictions are frequent experiences of those caught within the Canadian criminal justice system. This underscores the necessity for adequate and affordable housing for Indigenous peoples, and others who are prevented from it due to the value placed on ‘whiteness’ or lack thereof (“Aboriginal Housing Needs in Saskatoon: A Survey of SaskNative Rentals Clients” 2004, 2; La Prairie and Stenning 2003, 187).

Indigenous peoples in comparison to white settlers, statistically, are significantly more likely to experience trauma due to systemic factors such as the experience of racial discrimination in employment, education, policing, and acquisition of services/resources. Often, Indigenous peoples experience racial discrimination causing barriers to resources and services; this not only has immediate effects on a person’s state of wellbeing but may prevent them from accessing support in the future due to fear the discrimination will happen again. Example, an Indigenous single mother applies for a house rental, but she is denied during a viewing and the property owner is racist towards her. Going forward, the fear and anticipation that something will happen could prevent her from reaching out to support services, going places, applying for housing, etc.

For Indigenous persons trying to get out of poverty, they may experience a lack of financial resources or assistance in urban and rural areas, accompanied by increased policing in Indigenous communities (e.g.: the neighbourhoods of Riversdale and Pleasant Hill in Saskatoon have higher police surveillance than Evergreen or Avalon; according to former Judge Harold Johnson, northern Indigenous communities experience a high presence of RCMP surveillance). One example is existing provincial programs such as Social Housing, which have long waiting lists and are insufficiently equipped to accommodate the number of people in need. According to Campaign 2020, “For children in First Nations families, the poverty rate in 2016 was 49.4 per cent. Among those families indicating they were Métis, 28.4 percent were in low-income households.” (Campaign 2000, Saskatchewan Child and Family Poverty Report, 2020). As of 2021, over one quarter or 26.1% percent of children within Saskatchewan live under the poverty line, the highest representation of these come from single-mother households (Global News,, 2021).

Individuals living in poverty who are able to find housing may be limited to options that are overcrowded, or in poor repair. Young members of these groups may not have a sufficient number of safe spaces to spend their time, as community organizations and safe spaces that do not require money have limited funding, staff, and operating hours (e.g.: libraries, community halls and centres, EGADZ, shelters, The Lighthouse). For many of these community organizations, sobriety is mandatory for admittance creating another barrier to safe spaces for youth and adults. These difficulties can combine to create an overall sense of stress and frustration in surviving within urban surroundings, and in struggling to financially survive. The lack of support and resources can contribute to criminal justice system contact / re-contact. That is to say, the cumulative effects of settler colonialism and the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous lands resulting in impoverished conditions leads to a higher rate of Indigenous peoples in contact with the criminal justice system. (“Saskatoon Aboriginal Neighbourhood Survey: A Survey of Aboriginal Households in City Neighbourhoods” 2004, 12; Newhouse 2003, 245; Trevethan 2003, 195).




  • “Aboriginal Housing Needs in Saskatoon: A Survey of SaskNative Rentals Clients.” A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • Aboriginal People and Housing: An Exploration of the Perceptions of Saskatoon Habitat for Humanity.” Prepared by Katriona Hanna and Lori Hanson. A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “Aboriginal Post-Secondary Student Housing: Research Summary.” Bridges and Foundations Project on Urban Aboriginal Housing, a Community-University Research Alliances Project. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “Aboriginal Statistics at a Glance.” Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2010.
  • “Affordable Housing and Home Ownership: Business Case Development for the Saskatoon Market.” Prepared by Erin Foss, Research and Communications Assistant, Saskatoon and Region Home Builders’ Association, Bridges and Foundations Project. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “A Time for Action: Aboriginal and Northern Housing.” Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. Ottawa: House of Commons, 1992.
  • Barnsley, Paul. “The legacy of inadequate housing.” Windspeaker, 0834177X, Dec2003, Vol. 21, Issue 9.
  • Belanger, Yale D., Gabrielle Weasel Head, Alu Owosoga. “Housing and Aboriginal People in Urban Centres: A Quantitative Evaluation.” Aboriginal Policy Studies Vol. 2, No. 1 (2012): 4-25.
  • “Final Report.” Prepared for the Bridges and Foundations Project on Urban Aboriginal Housing in Saskatoon: A Community University Research Alliance Project (CURA). Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “First Nations Housing in Saskatoon: A Survey of Cress Housing Clients.” A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • Fisher, Linda and Hannele Janetti. “Aboriginal Youth in the Criminal Justice System.” In Issues and Perspectives on Young Offenders in Canada, ed. John A. Winterdyk, 237 - 255. Toronto: Harcourt Brace and Company Canada, 1996.
  • La Prairie, Carol and Philip Stenning. “Exile on Main Street: Some Thoughts on Aboriginal Over-Representation in the Criminal Justice System.” In Not Strangers in These Parts: Urban Aboriginal People, eds. David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters, 179-193. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003.
  • “Migration and Mobility Between Reserve and City: A Survey of Whitecap Dakota/Sioux First Nation Residents in Saskatoon.” A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “Muskeg Lake Cree Nation Affordable Housing Program Survey of Band Members”. Muskeg Lake Cree Nation Housing Committee. A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. 2004.
  • Newhouse, David. “The Invisible Infrastructure: Urban Aboriginal Institutions and Organizations.” In In Not Strangers in These Parts: Urban Aboriginal People, eds. David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters, 243-253. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003.
  • Pfefferle, Brian. “Gladue Sentencing: Uneasy Answers to the Hard Problem of Aboriginal Over-Incarceration.” Manitoba Law Journal Vol. 32, No. 2 (2008):113-43.
  • “Residential Urban Reserves: Issues and Options for Providing Adequate and Affordable Housing.” Prepared for the Bridges and Foundations Project on Urban Aboriginal Housing in Saskatoon: A Community University Research Alliance Project (CURA). Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • Roach, Kent and Jonathan Rudin. “Gladue: The Judicial and Political Reception of a Promising Decision.” Canadian Journal of Criminology Vol. 42, No. 3 (July 2000):355-388.
  • “Saskatoon Aboriginal Neighbourhood Survey: A Survey of Aboriginal Households in City Neighbourhoods.” A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • Siggner, Andrew J. “The Challenge of Measuring the Demographic and Socio-Economic Conditions of the Urban Aboriginal Population.” In Not Strangers in these Parts: Urban Aboriginal Peoples, eds. David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters, 119-130. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003.
  • “Summary and Analysis of Bridges and Foundations: CURA.” Bridges and Foundations Project on Urban Aboriginal Housing, a Community-University Research Alliances Project. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “Survey of Urban Housing Needs of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.” A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project. An initiative of the Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) Program of the SSHRC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • Trevethan, Shelley. “Is there a Need for Aboriginal-Specific Programming for Aboriginal Offenders?” In Not Strangers in These Parts: Urban Aboriginal People, eds. David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters, 195-200. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003.
  • “The FSIN-Province of Saskatchewan Gaming Partnership: 1995-2002.” Partnerships in Urban Aboriginal Housing Projects: A Theoretical Perspective. A Report for the Bridges and Foundations Project (CURA). Saskatoon, SK: 2004.
  • “The Health Effects of Housing and Community Infrastructure on Canadian Indian Reserves.” Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1991.
  • “Urban First Nations Residential Development Manual.” Prepared for Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Bridges and Foundations Project by Jess Chhokar. Saskatoon, SK: 2004.





Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Indigenous Women, Girls, 2-Spirit, and Transgender people


Indigenous survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking, community activists, and scholars document that coercion and deception are means of forcing Indigenous women, girls, 2-Spirit, and transgender people into survival sex work. In Saskatchewan, Saskatoon is considered a significant part of the transit corridor used within the Prairies to expedite trafficking of gender marginalized Indigenous peoples. Notably, sex trafficking of gender marginalized Indigenous people in Canada is so pervasive that it has not only received international news coverage (CNN - Canada's Stolen Daughters, attached Resources), the Canadian government has received international criticism from the U.S. government and United Nations, and national organizations, such as the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Canadian Women's Foundation.

Survivors of sex trafficking, community advocates and scholars have discussed factors which increase the vulnerability of Indigenous women, girls, 2-Spirit, and transgender people into trafficking. Experiences of abuse/violence; limited supervision; substance use/misuse; proximity to foster care; educational absence on information related to sexuality, contraception and pregnancy, models of healthy platonic and romantic relationships; overall lack of access to education; familial and communal residential/day school attendance, intergenerational trauma; housing insecurity and/or a lack of rental history; unemployment and job insecurity; a lack of culturally-appropriate support services (mental and spiritual health, medical, etc.); an absence of support networks (family/friends); having resided in a rural, northern or other isolated area where there may be a lack of infrastructure such as sewer, electrical or water services; lacking access to basic necessities for survival; and gang involvement. Many, if not all of these factors of vulnerability are linked to the settler colonial policies and beliefs which continue to oppress gender marginalized peoples.

In the aforementioned CNN Article "Canada's Stolen Daughters," Diane Redsky, who runs the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg (a Centre which engages in anti-trafficking advocacy work and runs a healing lodge) was interviewed. She commented:  "We're still in a society that targets Indigenous women and girls. In fact the national task force concluded that there's a market for Indigenous girls" (par. 28).

The psychological and physical impacts of sexual exploitation and trafficking are described in the literature review and analysis released by the Native Women's Association of Canada, titled, "Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls":

"What can be gathered from looking at the span of the above statistics, both the 2005 and 2011, is that there is a solid continuation of traumatic and damaging experiences that Aboriginal women and girls experience both prior to being trafficked and in the life of being trafficked for sexual acts. Unfortunately, experiences of violence, various forms of abuse, and trauma seem to be very consistent and prevalent within human trafficking. One of the defining characteristics of Farley et al’s research is the examination of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in prostituted and sexually trafficked women. PTSD consists of three types of symptoms: persistent, intrusive re-introducing of trauma; numbing of responsiveness and persistent avoidance of stimuli of trauma; and persistent autonomic heightened arousal. Those who participated in the study completed an evaluation of criteria for PTSD. In a 2005 paper examining prostituted and trafficked women, out of the one hundred participants, including both First Nations and non-First Nations, 72% qualified for PTSD, which is 'among the highest reported in populations where PTSD has been studied, including battered women, combat veterans, childhood trauma survivors, rape survivors, and torture survivors' (Farley, Lynne, & Cotton, 2005, p. 255) . Those who are prostituted and sexually trafficked often experience extreme and intentional violence, abuse and torture. It is no surprise that these women and girls fulfill the criteria for PTSD. Such evidence suggests the difficulty of trying to move on from sexual exploitation, trafficking, and prostitution. It is a deeply traumatic experience that impacts on one’s physical self, the mental, and the emotional" (pages 10-11).

This excerpt from the Globe and Mail contains the testimony of a sex trafficking survivor as to the long-lasting impacts of PTSD in terms of her ability to function:

"But even if there is no physical evidence, illness and violence are so pervasive that, eventually, “trafficking will produce a health consequence,” says Tara Wilkie of the Surrey Memorial forensic team. Patients are provided with support after leaving the hospital, but Ms. Wilkie says the after-effects of trafficking can leave someone with lifelong physical and mental-health issues. Bridget Perrier seems to be living proof of this. As she sits on the couch of her Toronto home, phone buzzing, two dogs scampering around, pictures of her children on the wall, her old life seems like the distant past. Yet, she says, a decade of sexual exploitation “damaged me to a point where ... I have panic attacks. I have PTSD. I can’t have a baby naturally because my cervix is just shot. I sleep with the lights on. I’m hypervigilant. And there are flashbacks. “Sometimes a smell will set me off, gagging.” Pine-Sol, used to disinfect the rooms, “triggers it.” As do “certain male colognes, certain deodorants.” Also damaged: her relationship with others. She says her clientele was so predominantly white that, even today 'I can’t be on an elevator with a Caucasian man'" (pars. 85-90).

Regarding solutions for recovery from post-traumatic symptoms, including PTSD, the Native Women's Association of Canada literature review and analysis notes:

"Many who are sexually exploited and trafficked come from backgrounds where formal education and job skill development have been compromised from traumatic childhoods and growing up in abuse. To help these women and youth escape the cycle of sexual exploitation, they need training in viable alternatives for income. It is not enough to protect women and girls from pimps and traffickers; the conditions of growing up in poverty and without a full education must also be addressed for lasting difference" (page 25).

Bluntly put, one participant phrased it aptly: ’People don’t heal overnight. It took seventeen years to get all the shit inside of you and it’s probably going to take twenty years to get it out of you’ (p. 36). Quick-healing regimens are unrealistic. Healing takes time, and sexual exploitation is a violent, oppressive, and damaging process. In a 2003 study on sexual exploitation with some 854 participants, their findings were that prostitution was multi- traumatic, with 68% meeting the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (Farley, et al., 2003, p. 34), which, also happens to match the same range of PTSD as combat veterans (Weathers, Litz, Herman, Huska, & Keane, 1993, as cited in Farley, et al., 2003, p. 37). If prostitution is categorized as choice and trafficked as forced, it may be that trafficked women are dealing with even more PTSD." (page 29).



Gender discrimination and sexualization of Indigenous women, girls, 2-Spirit, Transgender and Non-Binary people, is deeply embedded in the foundation of Canadian policy, society, and consciousness.  That is, stereotypical gendered narratives were constructed by colonizers that depicted Indigenous peoples as morally inferior and culturally uncivilized - including a predisposition to extreme sexuality (this was the underlying rationale for gender segregation in the Indian Residential School system). 

Settler Colonists viewed Indigenous 'sexuality' as a threat that needed to be subdued, and another area in which they could assert dominance and control over Indigenous agency. Early on in the period of Contact with Europeans, Indigenous women, much like the "virgin" soil of North America, were perceived as available for possession by white, European men. These tropes of availability, in combination with stereotypes which constructed Indigenous women as exotic and erotic, asserted that Indigenous women were incapable of consenting (always available to the Colonial sexual appetite) and therefore inherently inviolable.

In addition to social marginalization enforced through colonialism, narratives construct Indigenous women, girls, 2-Spirit, and Transgender people as sexually disposable which creates a significant degree of proximity to violence.  Aforementioned experiences of social marginalization include, but are not limited to: the mass apprehension of Indigenous children by child and family services, low-income caused by isolation from resources, cultural activities and lifeways, and economic discrimination, housing insecurity, employment insecurity, and limited access to education.  

Annette Sikka, in the conference paper "Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls in Canada," writes:

"..[T]he terms 'control' and 'exploitation' have been interpreted by the justice system in the context of trafficking offences also do not adequately reflect the types of coercion and exploitation that Aboriginal women or girls in street-based sex work face. It has been difficult to have the criminal justice system recognize non-physical forms of coercion in trafficking analyses because the criminal law focuses only on the immediate actions of individuals." (220).  

Actors within the legal system frequently lack a sufficient understanding of the ways in which gender-marginalized Indigenous peoples experience coercion and deception.  This serves to reinforce individualistic narratives which depict participation in the survival sex work as a matter of personal choice to participate in a "high-risk lifestyle." Yet it obscures elements of social and political marginalization which pressure gender-marginalized people into survival sex work. E.g., coercion or deception by others (the promise of money, protection, security, or substances).

This is not to say that sex workers or sex work is inherently violent or deviant, nor should sex workers be criminalized. Rather, that the social, gendered, sexual, and financial inequities established by Canadian settler colonialism have enabled traffickers to take advantage of the precarious social and economic situations many Indigenous women, girls, and other gender marginalized people find themselves in. Trafficking and exploitation is driven by the desire to fulfill settler sexual fantasies and maintain oppressive power structures.





Northwest Resistance: Memorandum for the Hon. the Indian Commissioner Relative to the Future Management of Indians


In a May 1885 correspondence to the Indian Commissioner, an official states that it is his impression that Moosomin, Turtle Lake and Thunderchild bands will remain loyal, and that if they are not, that they will be discreet enough to at least appear to hold a position of neutrality. The writer was unsure regarding the loyalty, disloyalty or neutrality of Poundmaker. The writer also states, “It would seem to be matter for regret that we should not endeavour to keep well disposed Indians in hand, but the military authority superseding ours, renders it impossible to make any move in this direction.”

In a correspondence from May 29, 1885, from Indian Agent MacDonald to the Indian Commissioner, the Agent writes,

“If it can be done I would strongly recommend that the File Hill Band of indians be treated with by General Middleton, in the same manner he has done with those north - Invite the Chiefs and Head men to meet him at Fort Qu’Appelle, order the men to surrender their arms, depose the three chiefs and unruly head men and those who killed the cattle we will punish [there had been an oxen found, stripped of meat - assumedly killed by Aboriginal people, who were likely starving]. Actions of this kind will settle all difficulties in the future in this Treaty, an example should or must be made, I see no better one than to treat the File Hill Bands as having been disloyal during the troubles North had they been harshly dealt with previous to the battle of Batoche these four bands would have been on the warpath, reinforced by young bucks from other Reserves within the Treaty and by some halfbreeds what the consequences would have been no one can tell….The Northern Indians have got a lesson which they will never forget.”

In a June 2, 1885 letter from the Indian Commissioner to the Superintendent General, the Commissioner writes, “The guilty Indians should also be severely punished as an example to others in the future and the Chiefs and Head men deposed as suggested by Agent McDonald.

In a June 5, 1885 letter from the same Commissioner to Indian Agent MacDonald, the Commissioner reiterates these plans:

In a letter from the Indian Commissioner to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, the Commissioner recommends numerous ways to punish First Nations and Métis who were involved in the resistance: “I told the young men to consider over well what was going on [up] North. The Government was determined to punish all who took up arms against the Queen’s laws no matter how slight they may be, and no matter whether he was a White or Black man, Halfbreed or Indian, they would be dealt with alike.”

The following is a summary of the Memorandum for the Honorable Indian Commissioner relative to the future management of Indians (the summary is not a direct transcription but aims to use as much original phrasing as possible):

1. All Indians who have not during the late troubles been disloyal or troublesome should be treated as heretofore.

 2. It is suggested that all leading Indian rebels whom is it found possible to convict of particular crimes such as instigating and inciting to treason, felony, arson, larceny, murder, be dealt with in as severe a manner as the law will allow, and that no offence of their most prominent men be overlooked.

 3. Métis involved in the rebellion convicted will be punished in similar manner.

 4. That the tribal system should be abolished in as far as is compatible with the Treaty, ie. in all cases in which the Treaty has been broken by rebel tribes; by doing away with chiefs and councillors, depriving them of medals and other gifts to their offices.

 5. No annuity money to any ‘rebellious’ bands or individuals who joined “insurgents... The annuity money which should have been expended wholly in necessaries has to a great extent been wasted upon articles more or less useless and in purchasing necessaries at exorbitant prices, entailing upon the Department a greater expenditure in providing articles of clothing, food and implements not called for by the terms of the Treaty…”

 6. Disarm all rebels, but to those rebel Indians north of the North Saskatchewan River who have heretofore mainly existed by hunting: return shot guns (retaining the rifles), branding them as Indian Department property and keeping lists of those to whom arms are lent.

 7. No rebel Indians should be allowed off the Reserves without a pass signed by an Indian Department official.

8. The leaders of the Lakota who fought against the troops should be hanged and the rest be sent out of the country as they are certain of the settlers who are greatly inclined to shoot them on sight.

 9. Big Bear’s band should either be broken up and scattered among other bands or be given a Reserve adjacent to that of Onion Lake.

10. One Arrows band (later seen on the ‘not loyal’ list of bands in Carlton Agency) should be joined with that of Beardy and Okemasis (also considered ‘not-loyal’) and their present Reserve surrendered and dealt with by the Department for their benefit. Chekastaypaysin’s band should be broken up and their Reserve surrendered, the band being treated similar to One Arrows. Neither of these bands are large enough to render it desirable to maintain Farming Instructors permanently with them and as they are beyond assistance.

11. All Métis, members of rebel bands, although not shown to have taken any active part in the rebellion, should have their names erased from the Paysheets and if this suggestion is not approved of, by forcing anyone belonging to a band to reside on Reserves. It is desirable however that the connection between Métis and the Indians be entirely severed as it is “never productive” (Researcher observed note in margin of this document which was presumably by another official, possibly the Commissioner. The note simply says “yes” to indicate agreement.)

 12. Not applicable

 13. James Teenum, Mistawasis and Ahtahkakoop should receive some gift of government appreciation for their conduct [not participating in the rebellion].

14. Agents should be particularly strict in seeing that each and every Indian now works for every pound of provision given to him.

15. Horses of rebel Indians should be confiscated and sold, and cattle or other necessities be purchased with the profits of such sale as this would encourage an agricultural lifestyle.



In the weeks and months following the Northwest Resistance, there was no questioning or introspection on behalf of government officials regarding underlying causes for the Resistance beyond racist stereotypes of Indigenous stubbornness and resistance to Victorian notions of 'civilization' and 'progress.' Rather, following attempts of Métis and First Nations non-violent diplomacy, the government responded with force towards their negotiations.  Indian Affairs officials advocated that non-loyal bands be “harshly dealt with,” that an “example should or must be made,” that “ guilty Indians should also be severely punished as an example to others,” and that they “be dealt with in as severe a manner as the law will allow.”  Several of the recommendations were carried out, including the right to earn a livelihood.  The implementation of the pass system (article 7 of the memorandum - see also separate entry under “pass system” in database) would severely inhibit the ability of Indigenous peoples to organize politically, or be advocates against the settler colonial occupation.  The removal of arms such as guns and knives also meant that ability to hunt was severely undermined.   It should also be noted that the government used tactics including fear and intimidation by hanging eight other leaders and Louis Riel in a public forum.  They also sentenced Poundmaker and Big Bear to prison, inevitably leading to their hastened deaths.  





Aftermath of the North-West Resistance: Restrictions on Traveling Between Bands


First Nations were prohibited from traveling between communities following the 1885 Resistance, in attempts to discourage collaboration between bands which could result in collective action. However, some band members continued to travel covertly. Those who were found to be traveling between reserves against the government's orders were punished by having their rations and annuity payments revoked.




Aftermath of the North-West Resistance: Trial and Execution of Louis Riel


On 6 July 1885 Riel was charged with high treason for his leadership in the North-West Resistance. His trial began on 20 July 1885. Riel could not afford a defense attorney, so money was collected from his supporters in Quebec and François-Xavier Lemieux and Charles Fitzpatrick (two prominent Quebec defense lawyers) were hired to defend Riel. The defense strategy was to prove that Riel was insane, as denying the charge of high treason was, at the time, viewed as implausible. Various witnesses were called that either upheld Riel's sanity or considered him 'insane.' Riel's final speech ended any prospects of acquittal. Riel spoke eloquently and passionately, justifying the reasons behind the resistance. After thirty minutes of deliberation, the jury arrived at a decision of guilt in relationship to the charge of high treason, with a recommendation for clemency. Judge Richardson disregarded the request for clemency and sentenced Riel to death by hanging in Regina on 18 September, 1885.



Riel's Lawyers appealed this ruling in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench as well as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council but neither altered the original verdict.  Riel was executed in Regina on 16 November, 1885. The extreme punishment and exodus of Metis leaders after the resistance, like Gabriel Dumont who fled to the U.S., represented a great loss of Metis political leadership within "Rupert's Land" and Metis Nationhood. It demonstrated to Metis and First Nations people across the plains that asserting sovereignty and self-determination would be met with a swift and oppressive colonial hand; while this did not stop Indigenous peoples, policies and laws implemented after the resistance made it exceptionally more difficult to organize, resist, and protect their nations. The establishment of the NWMP and Indian Agents on Western reserves aimed to curb inter-community organization and acted as state surveillance. 



The Queen vs. Louis Riel, accused and convicted of the crime of high treason: report of trial at Regina: appeal to the Court of Queen's bench, Manitoba: appeal to the Privy council, England: petition for medical examination of the convict: list of petitions for commutation of sentence, Ottawa: 1886. pp. 192-199.

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Trial and Execution of Louis Riel



Half-Day System and the Exploitation of Student Labour


Since the manifestation of 'manual labour schools' in the 1840s through the 1950s, a distinguishing feature of the residential school system was their use of the half-day system. This model was devised by the Methodist Cleric, and school superintendent for the future Ontario, Egerton Ryerson. The theory behind this system was that half the day should be dedicated to curriculum studies and the other half should be spent learning trades, such as farming, blacksmithing and other skills deemed useful to Euro-Canadian economy. The objective of this system was "to give a plain English education adapted to the working farmer and mechanic," while also allowing the schools to be self-sufficient after a few years "with judicious management."

Egerton Ryerson believed that the half-day system was necessary for the success of the students in their assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. This belief was based on the colonial notion that "in the case of the Indian ' nothing can be done to improve and elevate his character and condition without the aid of religious feeling,'" and therefore ‘learning’ manual labour was the only way in which students would be able to contribute to Euro-Canadian society. Unanimously, reports from across the country consistently noted that the labour portion of the half-day system often took precedence and overlapped with the student’s academic studies. Students were forced to complete arduous labour at the benefit of the schools and their faculties. The exploitation of student labour was justified as being vocational training, an integral element in Ottawa's goals for the Residential School system. Solomon Johnston, a former student of an industrial school in Saskatchewan claims "the teachers only taught us enough so that we could just begin to read. The older girls taught us in the evening but during the day we cut wood, picked stones - all the worst jobs. We didn't learn anything."

Bear, Shirley, Funk, Jack, and Saskatoon District Tribal Council. "...And They Told Us Their  Stories": A Book of Indian Stories. Saskatoon: Saskatoon District Tribal Council, 1991.

Miller, J. R. Shingwauk's Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools. Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1996.

Milloy, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 1999. 169-173.

Sub Event
Exploitation of Student Labour