The Indian Act Of 1876
6:05 min. - The Indian Act of 1876 amended and consolidated previous laws concerning Aboriginals. This law, based on assimilation, is still in effect today.
Narrator - In 1854, the Innu lands get a different kind of visitors. The fishermen. Five acadian families, arrive from the Magdalen Islands and settle at La Pointe aux Esquimaux. They had stopped first at Mingan with their chattel but the Hudson Bay’s agent had sent them back to sea. So Innus offered help. Over 20 years, Acadians came and grew and became more than 80% of the regional population. 1867 is the British North America Act year, the great colonial canadian dream.
Evelyne St-Onge - In 1935, according to some figures, they believed that Indians had vanished. When Indian women would marry white men, they would lose their Indian status, whereas Indian men would preserve their Indian status. Then, it’s the beginning of industrial times, colonization, deforestation, barrages… We were minding our own business in the woods, but we were still in their way. We were considered as an inferior race. They would not leave us in peace, unless we denied our own race.
Narrator - In 1876, Ottawa is content with applying the existing laws on Indian Affairs. One who accepts living the white way as do all immigrants is rewarded by all the the rights of white citizenship. The white government deciding who is indian and who is not. If one prefers the natural life of his fathers, one has no civic rights but that of living on a reservation. The will to assimilate is no hidden fact. The poet and civil servant of the Department of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, wrote: Our objective is to work until not one indian in Canada is not included in the political body and there is no Indian Question and no Department of Indian Affairs. In United States the saying was "A good Indian is a dead Indian". In Canada, it was something like "A good Indian is a non-Indian". So, the state decides to educate children in the white ways, in order to speed up assimilation and acculturation that will benefit everyone, white and indian.
Narrator - Here is a child that we found in the bush. I bring him here, so you can keep him. You must make sure he doesn't disturb us.
Then, he gives him lengthy explanations on how the treat the child left in his cares. For a little while, you will treat him good, so he loves us and he appreciates that we keep him inside and so he never think about going back where he uses to live. At the beginning only, you will give him everything for free. You will feed him like us, so he forgets his own food. You will dress him like us, so he forgets his own ways of dressing. You will give him the same education as us. However, you must make sure that he doesn't perform very well in school, because we do not know this child.
It is wonderful to find all of you here. Eight of you will come with me to a boarding school. There, you’ll learn French; you’ll learn how to write and read. After what, you’ll become good priests and, come back to your community.
You’ll be absent for ten months.
Let me bless you.
You have to listen and respect the teachings.
Do what you are being told…
You'll be back next spring.
Everything is ready, Captain!
Look how happy they all seem, with that smile on their face. They are proud to follow me.
When I chose to become a missionary, I had dreamt of moments like these, of saving souls and bringing people to the Catholic faith. They are stuck on an island of rocks, poor them!
Music - Philippe Mckenzie