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

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways
Ewing Commission (1934-1936)

In 1935, in response to the Association forwarding their grievances and resolutions, the Alberta government appointed the Half-breed Commission, later known as the Ewing Commission. While Adrian Hope played a pivotal role in organizing and promoting a Métis association he did not take an official title with the Métis Association of Alberta when it was first formed. He did, however, along with Dion and Norris, consistently attend the hearings held by the Ewing Commission.

Ewing CommissionOn 12 December 1934, the Alberta government appointed a commission to examine and report on Métis health, education, homelessness, and land issues. The name of the commission was the Half-breed Commission or the Ewing Commission, so named after Judge Albert Freeman Ewing, the chairman of the commission. By 1935, Commission hearings were being conducted throughout the province. Hope, as well as Joseph Dion (president) and Norris (vice-president) of L’Association des Métis D' Alberta et des Territories du Nord Quest consistently attended the Commission's hearings and the deliberations.

During the concluding session, the chief commissioner asked, "Exactly what do your people want?" Hope replied, "Your Honor, we've had enough negotiable scrip which can be used to buy booze, with no benefit to our children. What we are asking for is land we cannot sell, cannot mortgage, but land to which we can belong." In 1936, with the word half-breed noticeably omitted from the report, the Ewing Commission recommended that Alberta's Métis should have land reservations for farming colonies/settlements, homes, and schools. Additionally, in recognition that the Métis were the original inhabitants of the proposed land allotments, the Commission acknowledged group rights and acknowledged that settlement Métis should have preference over nonresidents in harvesting fish, fur, and game.

The Ewing Commission attempted to make recommendations that promoted independence and self-sufficiency. The Commission felt that giving Métis the same status as Natives would make them dependent wards of the state. The Commission recommended that each head of the household should be allotted a parcel of land for farming and stock raising, but — and it turned out to be a big but—land title remained perpetually with the Crown. Essentially, this arrangement made the farmers and their families tenants, but with paternalistic government assurances of continuous tenure as long as appropriate conduct was maintained.

The Métis Population Betterment Act was the result of the Ewing Commission's recommendations. Through the efforts of the Métis Association of Alberta, the Métis Betterment Act was passed and Métis settlements (colonies) were established.

SIDE BAR: In 1940, L'Association des Métis D' Alberta et des Territories du Nord Quest changed its name to Métis Association of Alberta. After 1940, the Métis Association of Alberta remained inactive until the 1960s.

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Liens Rapides

Metis Association of Alberta (1932)

Ewing Commission (1934-1936)

The Metis Betterment Act (1938)

The Alberta Federation of Metis Settlements Formed (1973)

MacEwan Joint Metis-Government Committee

Resolution 18 Incorporated (1985)

Metis Settlements Accord Adopted (1989)

Metis Settlements General Council

Metis Rights: Regina vs. Powley

Who Are Metis?

Harvesting Rights for Alberta's Metis

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