Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs ever been held by a native?

I’m reading about the situation at Attiwapiskat. In this article the federal gov’t has taken over control and is sending auditors.

In the article it refers to “Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan”. “John Duncan” does not sound like a name you might meet an Aboriginal person with. That got me thinking … Has there ever been an Aboriginal in that post? Or has it always been some “white guy”?

How to find out?

In this Wikipedia article the history of the office is told.

From 1867 to 1936 the office was Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs.
From 1936 to 1950 it was Minister of Mines and Resources
In 1950 the Indian Affairs branch was transferred to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who had responsibility for “status Indians” until the creation of the position of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1966.
As of July 2004, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has been assigned the role of Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians concurrently.

Ok … that still doesn’t tell me if any of the ministers in those departments were natives though, having grown up in this country I would suspect non were.

At the bottom of the Wikipedia page there are a few tables with the info we’re looking for … but after checking a number of the names I find none were / are native. Curious … we give the job of responsibility for aboriginal affairs to people who are not part of that group and most likely never experienced life from the perspective of a native in this country (Canada). In fact most of those in the list come from a life of privilege so they did not even have the perspective of anyone who lived at the bottom and margins of Canadian society.

What it brings to mind is the position of Governor in the far flung parts of the old British Empire. London would never have a local in that position. Whomever occupied that position represented an island of british power and culture in far off lake of ‘foreigners’. (a lake taken by force and held by force and commerce)

It’s a job that should be for the benefit of the aboriginal people but it always seems to be some sort of sinecure for friends of the government OR a position to keep the ‘indians’ from getting out of control and mucking up the business of resource exploitation. Or both … as it was from the beginning.

Attiwapiskat is the current issue. It is not alone in its wretched state of affairs apparently. The Red Cross is bringing new sleeping bags – the feds are sending auditors. But this reserve has already been under co-management and already publicly posts its financial statements. Does that mean the government doesn’t believe the posted financial statements the band’s accountants produce?

Many commentators on news stories complain about ‘indians’ getting a free ride and still failing. There are many who could argue that simply being on a ‘free ride’ destroys one’s initiative and work ethic but that’s a different argument … the big ‘other’ in this story is the money Ottawa has given this place.  Many of these people balk at the $90 million over 5 years. Is that a big number for a small town? Or is that something else?

Simple math shows that it works out to $18M per year. If the population is 2000 (value used in article) then that comes to $9,000 per person per year. Not that I’m thinking they simply shove money into people’s hands … some of that needs to go into community operations.

The government figures about the cost of living in the North of Canada say that residents in urban communites in the north pay 33% more for their goods. I think rural northerners would pay more but lets go with that 33%.

I live in a small town in southern BC. Population is 4036 (as of 2006) so say twice that of Attiwapiskat. We live in the south, on the 2nd busiest highway in western Canada so while goods have to come here by truck the road is not a seasonal, tough one.  Attiwapiskat has no road into it from elsewhere as far as I can tell. And as everyone who has worked or lived in the far north knows … everything that isn’t made or grown locally has to come from somewhere else. And it if has to come in by aeroplane or boat that drives the cost way up. So the cost of living is far higher the further North you go in this country.

If you look at the my town’s budget expenditures for a year … is it close to $36M? Also note that my town gives out no monies in welfare to needy families … a situation that differs from that in Attiwapiskat I’m confident.

From the 2010 Financial Statement the Liabilities amount to $6,333,595. Expenses come to $9,733,000.  I’m sure real accountants can do this better but lets add those numbers and divide by the population to get the amount per person that the city spends to just function. So $16,066,595 / 4036 That comes to $3980 and change. Multiply by 1.333 and you get $5307. Is that bad? It is much lower than the $9000 in Attiwapiskat but the auditors for our town are always praising the fiscal planning and management the local government has shown. Maybe comparison to a community in BC that has been slammed for fiscal management would be more appropos.

The Canadian Federation of Small Business has slammed the spend and tax practises of many BC communities. Taxation increased 4 times faster than population they say mainly because of government spending. The provincial government is saying it needs a municipal auditor-general. So lets take Penticton because it is held up as one of the bad ones.

From their Annual report. Liabilities = $112,068,213 Expenses = $76,127,999 population ~ 33,000 … so add the liabilities and expenses and you get $188,196,212. Divide that by 33,000 and you get $5702. Adjust by 33% up and you get $7,584. Closer to the $9,000 guesstimate for Attiwapiskat.

So if Penticton were further North would the people there be in horrible conditions? Likely not as bad because a community that large would have more going on for it and its citizens than one a tenth of its size. And I cannot say if Penticton pays welfare out or not …

Earlier I mentioned that Attiwapiskat’s financial statements are published. They use an accounting firm from Timmins, Ontario. So what are there liabilities and expenditures?

Total liabilities = $23,119,721 Expenditures = $31,357,651 … together = $54,477,372. Divide by 2000 and you get $27,238. Wow! That’s a far larger number than Penticton or Grand Forks. Combined. Wow?

How come so big?

The two largest items in their expenditures are Program Delivery $12.2M and’Wages and Employee Benefits’ $10M. How does this compare with the other two towns?

Wages and Employee Benefits line item from the 2010 financial statements:

  • Penticton = $16,733,715
  • Grand Forks = $3,061,218
  • Attiwapiskat = $10,015,528

 

So a community of 2000 has a $10M payroll and one of 4000 has a $3M payroll … do they employ many more people? Or pay them much, much more?

Here is that table from the original question of the post – those with responsibility for aboriginal affairs in Canada over the years …

Superintendents-General of Indian Affairs (1878 – 1936)

1. Hector Louis Langevin Cabinet of Macdonald May 22, 1868 – December 7, 1869
2. Joseph Howe Cabinet of Macdonald December 8, 1869 – May 6, 1873
3. James Cox Aikins (acting) Cabinet of Macdonald May 7, 1873 – June 13, 1873
4. Thomas Nicholson Gibbs Cabinet of Macdonald June 14, 1873 – June 30, 1873
5. Alexander Campbell Cabinet of Macdonald July 1, 1873 – November 5, 1873
6. David Laird Cabinet of Mackenzie November 7, 1873 – October 6, 1876
7. Richard William Scott (acting) Cabinet of Mackenzie October 7, 1876 – October 23, 1876
8. David Mills Cabinet of Mackenzie October 24, 1876 – October 8, 1878
9. Sir John A. Macdonald Cabinet of Macdonald October 17, 1878 – October 2, 1887
10. Thomas White Cabinet of Macdonald October 3, 1887 – April 21, 1888
11. Sir John A. Macdonald (acting) Cabinet of Macdonald May 8, 1888 – September 24, 1888
12. Edgar Dewdney Cabinet of Macdonald September 25, 1888 – June 6, 1891
13. Edgar Dewdney Cabinet of Abbott June 16, 1891 – October 16, 1892
14. Thomas Mayne Daly Cabinet of Abbott October 17, 1892 – November 24, 1892
15. Thomas Mayne Daly Cabinet of Thompson December 5, 1892 – December 12, 1894
16. Thomas Mayne Daly Cabinet of Bowell December 21, 1894 – April 27, 1896
17. Hugh John Macdonald Cabinet of Tupper May 1, 1896 – July 8, 1896
18. Richard William Scott (acting) Cabinet of Laurier July 17, 1896 – November 16, 1896
19. Clifford Sifton Cabinet of Laurier November 17, 1896 – February 28, 1905
20. Sir Wilfrid Laurier (acting) Cabinet of Laurier March 13, 1905 – April 7, 1905
21. Frank Oliver Cabinet of Laurier April 8, 1905 – October 6, 1911
22. Robert Rogers Cabinet of Borden October 10, 1911 – October 28, 1912
23. William James Roche Cabinet of Borden October 29, 1912 – October 12, 1917
24. Arthur Meighen Cabinet of Borden October 12, 1917 – July 10, 1920
25. Sir James Alexander Lougheed Cabinet of Meighen July 10, 1920 – December 29, 1921
26. Charles Stewart Cabinet of King December 29, 1921 – June 28, 1926
27. Henry Herbert Stevens (acting) Cabinet of Meighen June 29, 1926 – July 12, 1926
28. Richard Bedford Bennett (acting) Cabinet of Meighen July 13, 1926 – September 25, 1926
29. Charles Stewart Cabinet of King September 26, 1926 – June 26, 1930
30. Ian Alistair Mackenzie Cabinet of King June 27, 1930 – August 7, 1930
31. Thomas Gerow Murphy Cabinet of Bennett August 7, 1930 – October 23, 1935
32. Thomas Alexander Crerar Cabinet of King October 23, 1935 – November 30, 1936

[edit] Ministers responsible for Indian Affairs (Minister of the Interior, Minister of Mines) 1936-1950

Thomas Alexander Crerar December 1, 1936 – April 17, 1945 under Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King
James Allison Glen April 18, 1945 – June 10, 1948
James Angus MacKinnon June 10, 1948 – November 15, 1948
James Angus MacKinnon November 15, 1948 – March 31, 1949 under Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent
Colin William George Gibson April 1, 1949 – January 17, 1950

[edit] Ministers responsible for Indian Affairs (Minister of Citizenship) 1950-1964

1. Walter Harris January 18, 1950 – June 30, 1954 Cabinet of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent
2. Jack Pickersgill July 1, 1954 – June 21, 1957
* E. Davie Fulton (Acting) June 21, 1957 – May 11, 1958 Cabinet of Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker
3. Ellen Fairclough May 12, 1958 – August 8, 1962
4. Richard Albert Bell August 9, 1962 – April 22, 1963
5. Guy Favreau April 22, 1963 – February 2, 1964 Cabinet of Prime Minister Lester Pearson
6. René Tremblay February 3, 1964 – February 14, 1965
7. John Robert Nicholson February 15, 1965 – December 17, 1965
8. Jean Marchand December 18, 1965 – September 30, 1966

[edit] Ministers of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (1966 – 2011)

1. Arthur Laing October 1, 1966 – April 20, 1968 Cabinet of Prime Minister Lester Pearson
April 20, 1968 – July 5, 1968 Cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
2. Jean Chrétien July 5, 1968 – August 7, 1974
3. J. Judd Buchanan August 8, 1974 – September 13, 1976
4. Warren Allmand September 14, 1976 – September 15, 1977
5. James Hugh Faulkner September 16, 1977 – June 3, 1979
6. Jake Epp June 4, 1979 – March 2, 1980 Cabinet of Prime Minister Joe Clark
7. John Munro March 3, 1980 – June 29, 1984 Cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
8. Doug Frith June 30, 1984 – September 16, 1984 Cabinet of Prime Minister John Turner
9. David Crombie September 17, 1984 – June 29, 1986 Cabinet of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
10. Bill McKnight June 30, 1986 – January 29, 1989
11. Pierre Cadieux January 30, 1989 – February 22, 1990
12. Tom Siddon February 23, 1990 – June 24, 1993
13. Pauline Browes June 25, 1993 – November 3, 1993 Cabinet of Prime Minister Kim Campbell
14. Ron Irwin November 4, 1993 – June 10, 1997 Cabinet of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
15. Jane Stewart June 11, 1997 – August 2, 1999
16. Bob Nault August 3, 1999 – December 11, 2003
17. Andy Mitchell December 12, 2003 – July 19, 2004 Cabinet of Prime Minister Paul Martin
18. Andy Scott July 20, 2004 – February 5, 2006
19. Jim Prentice February 6, 2006 – August 14, 2007 Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper
20. Chuck Strahl August 14, 2007 – August 6, 2010
21. John Morris Duncan August 6, 2010 – May 18, 2011

Prior to 1966, responsibilities for the Indian Affairs portion of this portfolio fell under the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Northern Development portion under the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources.

Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2011 – present)

1. John Morris Duncan May 18, 2011 – present Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper

On May 18, 2011, the minister’s title was changed from Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

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