McKenna–McBride Royal Commission

The McKenna - McBride Commission (literally: Royal Commission on Indian Affairs for the Province of British Columbia) was a 1913-1916 working commission to resolve the " question of the Indian reservations " in British Columbia. She recommended to collect a total of about 16,000 hectares ( 47,000 acres) of land 54 reserves and output at the same time some 30,000 hectares ( 87,000 acres) other land to the tribes. While thus increased the reserves, but outweighed the value of the confiscated land with 1.35 bis 1.53 billion U.S. dollars of those, though more extensive, issued country.


The Commission consisted of four members, two of which the provincial government represented, two, the government of Canada. A chairman was added, which was appointed by the four Commission members.

Unlike the Commissioner, James Andrew Joseph McKenna, who represented the government in Ottawa, Richard McBride was indeed co- namesake, but was never a member of the Commission. From his participation to some chief should have promised a certain moderation, since 1911, he had not recognized in negotiations with the Songhees in space Victoria and Squamish to Vancouver the inviolability of the once promised reserves, but made ​​yet so far-reaching concessions on the purchase dortiger Reserves that he had been appointed chief. He also spoke Chinook. McBride also had only therefore approved the establishment of a panel, because he was at that time under strong political pressure.

McKenna had also been negotiating experience with Indian tribes, especially in the Numbered Treaties, ie at No. 8 (1899-1900 in the District of Athabasca and in northwestern British Columbia) and No. 10 ( Cree and Ojibwa in northern Saskatchewan and east of Alberta), as well as in negotiations with Métis groups.

The tribes and the Indian agencies

British Columbia was divided with regard to the indigenous population in 15 Indian agencies (Indian Agencies ) or simply agencies. These were Babine, Bella Coola, the Cowichan Agency, Kamloops, Kootenay, Kwawkewlth, Lytton, Wet, New Westminster, Okanagan, the Queen Charlottes Agency, Stikine, Stuart Lake, West Coast and the Williams Lake Agency. Herein each multiple of the 200 strains were summarized, which were recognized by Canada, and tion states which reserves. For each of these agencies, a separate report was submitted, accordingly took its creation years.


The Commission also examined for each of the affected reserves the exact dimensions, the country needs and the allocation of resources. They questioned not only archival documents and administrative acts but also representatives of the First Nations, Indian agents, settlers and representatives of churches and missionary orders. To this end, they sought on each of the 15 Indian agencies.

The surveys of the Indians came after the remit explained by interpreters and had been demarcated, the respondents were sworn. The Commission explained that no country recoveries without the consent of the residents should take place in accordance with the laws of the Dominion of Canada. These meetings were prepared by the Indian agent and, if the Indians refused to participate in such a meeting, they were also the witnesses for the current states, needs and gaps of the respective reserves. Thus, the decision was practically made ​​by the Indian agents in many cases.

Although some First Nations would have preferred to work with knowledgeable legal representatives, as the Indian Rights Association, the Commission refused to accept their presence.

The fears, to be ultimately delivered arbitrary decisions, was exacerbated by the fact that through urgent decisions, eg of railway or road construction that should be urgently carried out very quickly with a fait accompli could be created. In addition to that pro-government sources, whether written or oral, rather faith was given, as the inhabitants of the reserves.

Basically, the concerns with respect to several aspects. Firstly, the First Nations saw their land claim generally in danger. The initially affected fishing and hunting rights, but also the right to natural resources such as coal, wood, and water rights. Alienations by settlers were on the agenda as well as problems in the performance of the still unfamiliar agriculture, especially the provision of equipment was considered in the context of an industrializing agriculture as always insufficient.

Then there was a need for regulation in terms of past reserve boundaries when burial sites, fishing spots or entire villages had been omitted in the older regulations. Finally, complaints about poor facilities were added with a view to the medical care and schools.

The points raised often exceeded the powers of the Commission, but they were all collected in a report, the Confidential Report, which was published on 30 June 1916. These four volumes arose only statistics, to to each of the 15 Indian agencies has its own band.

Recommendations (30 June 1916) and conflicts

The Commission recommended reductions in 54 reserves totaling 47055.49 acre. In return 87291.17 Acre another country should be added. In this case, the estimated average value of the former was 26.52 to 32.36 dollars, of the latter only at $ 5.10 per acre. Both the First Nations and the Government of British Columbia were dissatisfied with the recommendations. The former resisted the publication of good versus poor country and the unequal treatment of the tribes whose claim per family extremely varied, namely between 70 and 700 acres. In contrast, the government was not willing to spend more land than was confiscated.

This was so far a conflict, as the Indians of the coast should be accustomed to agriculture, on the other hand served their successful maritime hunting and gathering activities to deprive them of larger reserves. However, the Commission also recommended here, to promote agriculture and to engage einweisendes staff.

Similar conflicts arose in the recommendations regarding the use of wood. The Commission preferred - over the sale of entire forests - either the allocation of timber rights for small areas of low economic value to the Indians, or the employment of Indians in state societies, the latter work equipment and machinery should ask.

Similar difficulties related to the water supply, as many reserves were and are in a very dry area. Thus, the Commission recommended the clarification and establishment of water rights in order to promote agriculture, to the establishment of an engineer who knew how to irrigation technology. After all, the Commission recognized that some of the tribes had made ​​herein an excellent job.

In general, the boundaries of the reserves had indeed been defined, but many of these landmarks were gone. These losses forced erosion and road construction new recordings of the territories and attempt to resolve the resulting dispute.

When fishing, the Commission clearly recognized that "racial discrimination" (p. 12), the racial discrimination which meant that the Indians were no fish licenses. Here, like Japanese fishermen were preferred. The great salmon fishing companies should naturally limited number of fishing permits - the catch had to be delivered to them - a fairer distribution and prefer the residents in the area Indians. But the policy was also aimed at those attached license_en in favor of free licenses to reduce to self-employed fishermen. But these, the Indians were largely excluded by law, so they had to be active as dependent workers of fish factories. Them the possibility of fishing has also been organized on a larger scale and similar to to operate the fish company, denied. According to Reverend William Duncan, who still ran a fish factory together with the Indians, they were quite capable of doing. In many cases, the prejudice has been argued, Indians do not associate corresponding virtues that belonged to the permanent independence.

To this end, the Commission recommended to check the output of early Indian officer privileges, and if they stood up to the test, to actually implement, which was not often happen. Finally, the exclusive right to fish should be in the current flowing through their reserves water, shall be protected, and finally, one should allow the sale of small quantities of self- caught fish, because many Indians depended on this income from, to flour, tea and the like can buy.

In order not to decimate the fur-bearing animals on what happened by white trappers, who had nothing but the "Profit of the Day" in mind and worked not intended to be permanent, fur farms should be promoted, but also the existing nature of the fur industry.

In the formation - in British Columbia existed in a Native American population of 25,000 people at that time eight Industrial Boarding Schools with 492 pupils, ten boarding schools with 398 and 45 day schools with 1,367 students - recognized the Commission 's successful work of Duncan C. Scott, the Superintendent of Indian Education. However, the Commission proposed in agricultural areas a greater focus on appropriate practical activities before, as well as in the coastal areas. This should include those who neither fishermen nor wanted to be farmers, get a more industry- related training. Some Commission members suggested, although one positive faced a total of training, the transition of all schools in state hands before.

Finally, they took on the suggestion of the Indians to train Indian nurses and to employ them in the reserves after completing test again.

Finally, the fines for alcohol abuse should be adjusted so that they do not was discriminatory.


The dispute concerning the recommendations dragged on for years and culminated in 1919 and 1920 in the Dominion Indian Affairs Settlement Act (1919) and the British Columbia Indian Lands Settlement Act (1920). The government retained on the one before, to be able to modify the recommendations, on the other hand they refused to ask the Indians in every case. But on this basis could not agree with the government in Ottawa, and so it came to new negotiations.

Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, recommended a joint review of recommendations. The representative of the Government of Canada, WE Ditchburn, and the representative of the province, JW Clark, should represent the interests of the Indians with the anthropologist James Teit. But Teit died in 1922, so that the First Nations were again without representation. Thus, the final Ditchburn -Clark Report was practically without their participation. It was recommended and in addition, most demands for burial sites and the like rejected a further reduction of the reserves by 10,000 acre.

On July 19, 1924, the McKenna McBride Commission's recommendations were adopted, together with those of the Ditchburn -Clark reports from Parliament. 23 tribes suffered territorial losses at 35 different locations.