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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 185: Traité 8, Finale

Ce texte a été publié en anglais et n'est pas disponible en français.

Once Treaty Number 8 was signed, the natives who had chosen treaty had to pick out their reserve land.

According to historian David Leonard, most natives took reserve land in the vicinity of where they were already living.

Sucker Creek Reserve was the first one surveyed, right in 1901, that was only two years after the treaty was signed.

Others in the Twenties were undertaken north of Fort Vermilion, and, today, the band at Smith's Portage, the reserve land never was accepted. It was just not pointed out, and I understand that a settlement has been made, it's been indicated and this summer the government will survey the reserve land where they want it to be.

By 1930, the Métis of northern Alberta were a distressed lot. Many, having sold their scrip, were without land or entitlement. They didn't fit into white society, either.

And as a result, there was a commission established in the Thirties, a Métis Betterment Commission, headed by Judge Ewing, and the report recommended the establishment of a number of Métis settlements in the North. Vast tracts of land where the Métis could alone go and undertake farming with some provincial government help to get them started in the life, basically, of farmers.

In the end, the government's goal of native assimilation with Euro-Canadian society was never fully realized. And a century later, there's a movement to review the terms of Treaty Number 8.

But at the time, the government thought its perspective was enlightened and benevolent.

And they compared to what settlements they were making, to what the Americans had done, which was much more disastrous, south of the 49th parallel.

And not only did the American example seem worse, they could look at what the Spanish and the others had done, which was absolutely nothing in terms of settlement, but simply forms of genocide. So, the officials in Ottawa felt that what they were taking was a very, very generous and benevolent action for the people of the northwest, when they made settlement with them in the 1870s and 1899.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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