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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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Métis Scrip

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Metis ScripThe parts of the Manitoba Act that dealt with Métis land rights and the extinguishment of Aboriginal title were Section 31 (which set aside one million four hundred thousand acres to be divided between the children of the Métis families), and Section 32, which sought to confirm title to those people who occupied land in Manitoba, whether freehold, by grant from the HBC or by right of possession. This section confirmed possession by the "original white settlers" which included the European fathers of the Métis and the Selkirk settlers, as well as the Métis "heads of families."

The amount of land set aside was based on a crude census of the province in 1870, in which the Métis population of Manitoba, at the time of the transfer, was thought not to exceed 10,000. The census was undertaken by Lieutenant Governor Archibald, and was recorded in his dispatch to the Secretary of State on 26 May, 1870.

It was not until the spring of 1875 that the federal government had even decided upon the process it would use when identifying those individuals who would be eligible for a claim under section 31 of the Manitoba Act. Arguing that the investigation of several thousand claims "... in addition to the regular business of the office, would be quite out of the power of the agent in charge [of the Dominion Lands Office in Winnipeg]..." John M. Machar, barrister in the City of Kingston, Ontario, and Matthew Ryan, barrister in the City of Montreal, Quebec, were appointed as Commissioners to administer the allotment of lands in the 1,400,000-acre reserve to Métis children and the distribution of scrip to Métis heads of families.

Machar and Ryan completed their task the following year. Their report outlining the methods used, and their recommendations for the issue of Letters Patents for lands allotted to Métis children, and the distribution of scrip to Métis heads of families was formerly adopted and approved as Order-in-Council, P.C. 128 1/2, 23 March, 1876. Machar and Ryan named 5,088 persons who were entitled to participate in the distribution of the 1,400,000-acre reserve.

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