from Judy Haiven's cutting edge blog another ruined dinner party
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph is a must read. It’s a short, punchy book that explains the facts about the act which has governed Indigenous people in Canada nearly to this day. The chapter titles tell all: The Beginning; Resistance is Futile; Tightening Control; “They rose against us” and finally --And Its Days are Numbered. This entry in the chapter Resistance is Futile, is about a group of Indian farmers (the Act prohibited Indigenous people from farming) in Saskatchewan who pooled their money to purchase farm machinery:
"At Duck Lake in 1891, six or seven Indians together purchased a self-binder ...The implement dealer had to acquire the consent of the agent, who was ordered by Inspector McGibbon to object to the sale. No sale or delivery took place."
We often hear that our parents and previous generations knew nothing of what was going on in Indian reserves – we have been told that earlier generations were never told. But in the chapter Tightening Control, Joseph notes that as far back as 1907, Canada’s “national magazine Saturday Night reported on residential schools, observing that ‘Indian boys and girls are dying like flies… Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards.’” P.59
"Indian boys and girls are dying like flies... Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards."
from Saturday Night magazine, 1907.
This was a time before radio, before movies, before television. This was a time when most literate Canadians read magazines for entertainment, and Saturday Night would have been a top seller. People knew.