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
On 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.
Metis Association of Alberta
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