Speculators and Métis Scripts
The Aboriginal rights of the Métis people were first acknowledged in the 1870 Manitoba Act. The Manitoba Act did not give the Métis the same rights as Status Indians, and to compensate the Métis for their Aboriginal title, the government made amendments to provide them with scrip that would entitle the holder to claim either 160 acres of land or $160.60.
The Métis in the Peace River country were included in the negotiations for Treaty 8 when they were offered either land or money scrip in settlement of their Aboriginal claims. Most Métis accepted money scrip as they had immediate needs and did not have the equipment or interested in pursuing homesteading.
As the land scrip was provided to the Métis, land speculators were prepared to buy the scrip for a fraction of its real value. Many of the Métis were illiterate and did not know the real value of the scrip they had been provided. These speculators included the Imperial Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, some private banks, and individuals.
There were a number of Métis that prospered in the years after Treaty 8, but the large majority suffered poverty and poor health with little access to education as they had no Aboriginal title that would have given them some access to services.