Canada’s Amerindians: Enfranchisement


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Ancient Messages by Maxine Noel (Sa-Cinn Native Ent. Ltd.)

Maxine Noel

Maxine Noel, who signs her art work by her Sioux name, Ioyan Mani, “to walk beyond,” attended a Residential School. It may have been a good residential school. There are times when one good person makes the difference.

After leaving Residential School, Maxine worked as a legal secretary, but decided to take a course on advanced design and was singled out as a particularly gifted and promising artist.

Her work is lovely. The flowing lines, the composition, the stylization (faces, hands), the graded colours. In the print shown above, the fanciful orangey dots gives a very successful sense of unity to Maxine Noel’s artwork.


“The Great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respect with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.”

John A. Macdonald
Canada’s first Prime Minister


Enfranchisement is “terminating a person’s Indian status and conferring full Canadian citizenship” (See Enfranchisement, Indigenous Foundations.)

Enfranchisement, i.e. terminating an Amerindian’s status, is the worst problem Canadian Aboriginals have faced since New France was ceded to Britain, and it was not addressed in the Canada Act of 1982. It is not stated that the Canada Act of 1982 terminates the Indian Act of 1876.

The purpose of Residential Schools was to enfranchise, or assimilate, young Amerindians. Therefore, the development of residential schools was one of many attempts to enfranchise Amerindians. Children are vulnerable and cannot defend themselves.


A New Beginning by Maxine Noel (Sa-Cinn Native Ent. Ltd.)

But let us list a few events:

So assimilation, or enfranchisement, was the goal of the Indian Act of 1876 that followed Confederation. It was abusive and several clauses didn’t make sense. In Indigenous Foundations (University of British Columbia [UBC]), we read that: 

“[t]he Gradual Enfranchisement Act also granted the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs extreme control over status Indians.” (See Indian Act, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Of “good moral character”

For instance, as per the Indian Act of 1876, an Amerindian’s status did not depend on his or her being born a status Amerindian, but on his or her being considered a status Amerindian by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, or another “official.” This policy can be construed as assimilative. A “good moral character” became the criterion used to determine whether or not one was a genuine Aboriginal, with all rights and privileges.

“For example, the Superintendent [of Indian Affairs] had the power to determine who was of “good moral character” and therefore deserve certain benefits, such as deciding if the widow of an enfranchised Indian “lives respectably” and could therefore keep her children in the event of the father’s death. The Act also severely restricted the governing powers of band councils, regulated alcohol consumption and determined who would be eligible for band and treaty benefits. It also marks the beginning of gender-based restrictions to status.” (See Indigenous Foundations, UBC [University of British Columbia].)


The Listener by Maxine Noel (

The White Paper of 1969: a turning-point 

About a century later, assimilation remained the goal, but the rationale was somewhat different. Pierre Elliot Trudeau wanted to put all Canadians on the same footing. Consequently, the White Paper of 1969 reflected that goal. At the time, Jean Chrétien was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The White Paper proposed the assimilation of Canadian aboriginals. It therefore unleashed a furore and a ‘Red Paper’ was written. The furore then fizzled out, but the “white paper” was both the culmination of various assimilatory strategies and the beginning of an era when Aboriginals would be protected.

(See The White Paper, Indigenous Foundations [University of British Columbia] UBC.)

“In spite of all government attempts to convince Indians to accept the white paper, their efforts will fail, because Indians understand that the path outlined by the Department of Indian Affairs through its mouthpiece, the Honourable Mr. Chrétien, leads directly to cultural genocide. We will not walk this path.”
Harold Cardinal, “The Unjust Society” (See Harold Cardinal, Wikipedia.)


In order to keep this post relatively brief and precise, I will now use a few quotations.

Access to higher Education

“A First Nations person lost status or ceased being an Amerindian if they graduated university, became a Christian minister, or achieved professional designation as a doctor or lawyer.” (See Indian Act, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Women could not “marry out,” but men could

Moreover, there was gender discrimination. A woman who married a non-status Indian, lost her status as an aboriginal. Men could ‘marry out.’

“In 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Act was passed. In it, Section 67 exempted it from being applied to provision in the Indian Act, largely understood to be an admission that the Indian Act would not meet human-rights standards. That section was repealed in 2008″ (See Indian Act, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

“In 1981, the United Nations Human Rights Commission ruled that Canada had violated Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the case of Sandra Lovelace — a Maliseet woman who had lost her status through marriage.” (See Indian Act, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991)

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was established in 1991 after the Oka Crisis and the Meech Lake Accord.

Oka Crisis, 1990 

“The Oka Crisis was a 78-day standoff (11 July–26 September 1990) between Mohawk protesters, police, and army [Royal 22e Régiment (the “Van Doos”)]. At the heart of the crisis was the proposed expansion of a golf course and development of condominiums on disputed land that included a Mohawk burial ground.” (See Oka Crisis, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Meech Lake Accord, 1987

As for the Meech Lake Accord, it was an attempt on the part of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to encourage Quebec to sign the Patriated Constitution of 1982. It was proposed that Quebec be looked upon as a “distinct society.” However, one of the ten provinces objected: Manitoba. “Phil Fontaine was one of the Manitoba First Nation leaders who led the opposition of the Meech Lake Accord.” (See Phil Fontaine and Ovide Mercredi, Wikipedia.)

The Commission found that a new beginning was essential. It produced a 4,000 page report recommending another Royal Proclamation and “set out a twenty-year agenda for implementing changes.” (See The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples,  Wikipedia).

I should think that the Residential School Settlement Agreement (2007 – 2008) and the formal apology presented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of all Canadians for harm inflicted on Aboriginals constitute a new beginning.

Let that be my conclusion.


With kindest regards

Grigory Sokolov plays Jean-Philippe Rameau‘s “Les Sauvages”

walk-beyond2-sm-660x660© Micheline Walker
24 May 2015

To Walk Beyond
Maxine Noel

The Jesuit Relations: an invaluable legacy, revisited


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Père Marquette and the Indians [at the Mississippi River], oil painting (1869) by Wilhelm Lamprecht (1838–1906), at Marquette University[I]


Several visitors to North America have left precious accounts of their trips as well as fine analysis of the people whose lands they visited.  For instance, in recent years, Alexis de Tocqueville‘s (29 July 1805, Paris – 16 April 1859, Cannes) two-volume Democracy in America (De la démocratie en Amérique), published in 1840 and 1845, has received a great deal of attention.

The Jesuit Relations

Reuben Gold Thwaites: the Editor (portrayed to the right, below)

However, one could and perhaps should include The Jesuit Relations (73 volumes, 1896-1901), among works in which Europeans have described North America. The Jesuit Relations have been edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, as The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610-1791.  Having had the privilege of reading some volumes of the Relations attentively and browsing through every volume, it is possible for me to say that Mr Thwaites’ edition is not only extremely interesting, but also quite easy to read.  It has been translated into English (a parallel translation) from the French, Italian and Latin.[ii]

Richelieu and New France

Every year the Jesuits working in Canada sent a report (une relation) to their superiors in France. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia,

“[a]s a result of Cardinal Richelieu‘s decision to enlist the Jesuits in colonizing French North America, the early history of settlement was systematically and colourfully documented by priests attempting to convert the Indians and also to attract support at home for their project.”[iii]

Compilation and publication

The Jesuit Relations were compiled by missionaries “in the field,” (The Canadian Encyclopedia) edited by their Quebec superior and sent to the Paris office of the Society of Jesus. They were printed in France by Sébastien Cramoisy. These texts constitute the finest and most complete account of life in Nouvelle-France (New France) beginning in 1632, under Richelieu and Louis XIII, and ending in 1672, twelve years after Louis XIV ascended to the throne (1660). 

Documents were sent after 1672, but not systematically. 

Contents of the Jesuit Relations: a mixture

The Jesuits told everything. Wikipedia lists: “Marriages and Marriage Customs, Courtship, Divorce, Social Status of Women, Songs and Singing, Dances, and Games and Recreation.” The Relations are a mélange (mixture) blending the activities of Amerindians, the progress of missionaries and the daily life of settlers. Moreover, they include accounts of explorers.


Henry P. Bosse

Minneiska, Minn., 1885


Jacques Marquette, S. J. and Louis Jolliet: Explorations down the Mississippi River

Among accounts of explorers, the Jesuit Relations include a relation by Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette (1 June 1637 – 18 May 1675), who was allowed to accompany French-Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet (21 September 1645 – last seen May 1700).  They founded Sault Ste. Marie (now in Ontario, Canada) and later founded St. Ignace, Michigan, in the current United States. They reported the first accurate data on the course of the Mississippi.  Two years later, Père Marquette and other missionaries were the first Europeans to spend a winter near Chicago.[iv]



They left from St. Ignace on 18 May 1673 with two canoes and five voyageurs of French-Amerindian ancestry (Métis) and entered the Mississippi on 19 June 1673.  They travelled down the Mississippi nearly reaching the Gulf of Mexico.  Two years later, Père Marquette was exposed to dysentery and died prematurely.  As for Jolliet, he was not heard of after May 1700.


the “bon sauvage

The Jesuit Relations are therefore eclectic and they were widely read in the 18th century as “exciting travel literature.” They are the birthplace of the “bon sauvage” who will be used later to provide a silent, yet eloquent, indictment of French society.  They constitute an invaluable “ethnographic and documentary sources.”[v]

Sources and Resources

The Jesuit Relations.1 (Internet Archive)
The Jesuit Relations.2 (Internet Archive)
[i] Images are from Wikipedia, unless otherwise indicated.
[ii] Lacombe, Michèle. “Jesuit Relations”. The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Toronto: Historica Canada, 2006. Web. 8 Feb 2006.
[iii] Michèle Lacombe, op. cit.
[iv] “Jacques Marquette.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <>
[v] Michèle Lacombe, op. cit.


 Le Révérend Père Jacques Marquette, S. J., by Wilhelm Lamprecht


Paul RobesonThe Old Man River

© Micheline Walker
15 March 2012 (draft)
15 May 2015 (published)

Residential Schools for Canada’s Amerindians


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Former Récollet Cloister, Saverne, Alsace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story of residential schools for Canadian aboriginals has two beginnings. The first is the missionary zeal of Récollets and Jesuits under the French régime. As for the second, it is the establishment of Residential Schools, which began in the 1880s. The very last of which closed its doors in 1996.

In 1966, the Canadian Government opened its Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, first known as the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and, after a fiasco, the White Paper, Amerindians who had been placed in Residential Schools were slowly but progressively rehabilitated and compensated, as per the Royal Proclamation of 1763, their Magna Carta. The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is the largest ever paid by the government of Canada:  1.9-billion.

The French Régime

  • Récollets
  • Jesuits
  • Jesuit Relations (1632 – 1672)
  • The Canadian martyrs
  • Black Robe

Our narrative dates back to the French Régime, when France deployed priests to New FranceRécollets (c. 1615) and Jesuits, from 1632 to 1763. The Récollets were displaced by the Jesuits. In the case of missionaries, there was no settlement, but martyrs: the eight Canadian Martyrs.

The Jesuit Relations: Martyred missionaries

The Jesuit Relations, the yearly report Jesuit missionaries sent to New France, from 1632 to 1673, tells the story of 8 missionaries tortured to death by Iroquois, except for Noël Chabanel, killed by a Huron. They are René Goupil, Isaac Jogues, Jean de Lalande, Antoine Daniel, Jean de Brébeuf, Noël Chabanel, Charles Garnier and Gabriel Lalemant. All died between 1642 and 1649. Amerindians had their own spiritual beliefs, but were being told otherwise.

Cover of the Jesuit Relations, 1632 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cover of the Jesuit Relations, 1662-1663 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Robe, directed by Bruce Beresford

Black Robe, directed by Bruce Beresford (Photo credit: Google Images)

The best 0f intentions

This is a sad story because Récollets and Jesuit missionaries were convinced their religion was the only true religion and that it alone could redeem mankind, guilty of the original sin. In their eyes, they were therefore saving Amerindians.

At the foot of this post, I have inserted Black Robe, a 1991 film directed by Bruce Beresford and based on a novel by Irish-Canadian author Brian Moore. It shows ambivalence on the part of Father Laforgue as to whether or not Amerindians should be converted. You may never find the time to see this film, but it has to be mentioned. Black Robe is an Australian and Canadian production, filmed in Quebec.

The Red River Colony

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, who settled the Red River Colony, also had the best of intentions. He wanted to find land for Scottish crofters who were being displaced by their landlords and many of whom were in fact homeless. But that is another story. (See Highland Clearances, Wikipedia.)

Residential Schools

“Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture.” (See Residential Schools, the Canadian Encyclopedia.)

They were established in 1880 by the Canadian government, and, as mentioned above, the last of these schools closed in 1996, several years after the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was created, in 1966.

The Hope of Aboriginal Leaders

Instruction: forced, assimilative, incomplete

  • poorly-prepared teachers
  • an unbalanced curriculum
  • the hope of Aboriginal leaders

Persons who taught in residential schools were not necessarily trained teachers. Because these were religious schools, the curriculum often reflected the teachers’ wish to convert aboriginals to Christianity and the concomitant denigration of these children’s spiritual beliefs, the beliefs of their tribes. (See Residential Schools, the Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Consequently, by and large, children attending these schools were seldom provided with the balanced curriculum that could lead to their entering a profession. Where would pupils go upon completion of their studies in residential schools?

Therefore, although some Aboriginal leaders “hoped Euro-Canadian schooling would enable their young to learn the skills of the newcomer society and help them make a successful transition to a world dominated by the strangers” (see Residential Schools, Canadian Encyclopedia), pedagogically, there could not be a genuinely “successful transition.”

In other words, this was not lofty interculturalism, vs multiculturalism, aimed at intercultural competence. (See Interculturalism, Wikipedia.) This was acculturation and students were not immigrants to a new land. They were First Nations, Métis and Inuit  students who were on their own land and were not allowed to speak their language among themselves, which was humiliating and could make them feel their language was inferior.

Their education was incomplete. In fact, children spent half the day in the classroom and the other half, working. The Canadian government relied on various Churches (Catholic, Anglican and what would be the United Church of Canada) to fund the schools. In fact,

“[a] First Nations person lost status or ceased being an Amerindian if they graduated university, became a Christian minister, or achieved professional designation as a doctor or lawyer.” (See Indian Act, Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Residential school group photograph, Regina, Saskatchewan 1908

Residential school group photograph, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1908 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Qu'Appelle Indian Industrial School, Saskatchewan ca. 1885. Parents of First Nations children had to camp outside the gates of the residential schools in order to visit their children.

Qu’Appelle Indian Industrial School, Saskatchewan ca. 1885. Parents of First Nations children had to camp outside the gates of the residential schools in order to visit their children. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • isolation
  • mistreatment
  • physical, emotional and mental abuse
  • sexual abuse

Residential School, with possible exceptions, were second-rate institutions Aboriginal children were forced to enter. Many were kidnapped and once they were in school, they could not see their parents, nor members of their Reserve for long periods of time. Parents camped outside these schools in the hope of seeing their children. In many residential schools, children were not allowed to go home for the summer holidays. Being separated from their parents and community must have crippled many of these children.

Moreover, pupils were assigned dangerous menial tasks and slept in crowded dormitories. Consequently, the mortality rate among these children was alarmingly high (tuberculosis and influenza [including the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19]). They were poorly fed and poorly dressed. Their clothes could not keep them warm when it was cold and cool when it was too warm, which is possible even in Canada. They were physically mistreated and sexually abused, an ignominy from which very few children could recover.

Some Amerindians have fond memories of their years in Residential Schools. There are exceptions to every rule. However, former First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine does not have fond memories of the residential school he was sent to. He has yet to recover fully from mistreatment and sexual abuse. He even approached Pope Benedict XVI  regarding this matter. One wonders how Chief Fontaine survived his schooling and grew to prominence. The following link takes you to a short but very perturbing interview.

The Location of these schools

These schools were located in the central provinces of Canada, the Prairies, as well as Northwestern Ontario, Northern Quebec, and the Northwest Territories. There were no residential schools in the Maritime Provinces where natives had already, though not forcibly, been acculturated. But, although they were not status Amerindians, Métis and Inuit were also locked up in Residential Schools.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were kept in residential schools and, at its peak, in 1930, there were 80 such schools.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763

So what had happened to the Royal Proclamation of 1763?

You may remember that future Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, nicknamed “the little guy from Shawinigan,” proposed assimilation in his White Paper of 1969.

If enacted, the White Paper would have abolished the Indian Act of 1876 and, by the same token, the Proclamation Act of 1763 which still protected Amerindians. Therefore, Amerindians availed themselves of their special status and the then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was haunted for years. At any rate, the White Paper was never signed into law.

After the Oka Crisis of 1990, a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs was established.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made sure the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms was included in the Patriated Constitution of 1982. In the case of Amerindians, it was and it wasn’t. (See the Constitution Act 1982, Section 35, Indigenous Foundations, UBC).

Section 25 reads as follows:

25. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including

(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and

(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

Section 35 reads as follows:

35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Note the Notwithstanding and, for clarification, See:

As noted above, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2007 is the largest to be negotiated in Canadian history: $1.9-billion. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also presented a formal public apology to Chief Phil Fontaine in 2008. “Nine days prior, the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to uncover the truth about the schools.” (See Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, Wikipedia.)

I am sorry our Canadian Aboriginals were practically imprisoned in Residential Schools and that it happened in my lifetime, but Canada has apologized and all is well. Would that the suffering of Amerindians did not go beyond Residential Schools, but there is more to tell.

With kindest regards to all of you.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper presents the government's official apology for residential schools to then-Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine on June 11, 2008.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper presents the government’s official apology for residential schools to then-Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine on June 11, 2008. (Photo credit: the Winnipeg Free Press)

Residential Schools

Black Robe

images© Micheline Walker
21 May 2015

The Art of Kenojuak Ashevac


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LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Birds over the Sun, Kenojuak Ashevac (Photo credit: LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01)

I am researching the harm Europeans caused Aboriginals: one of the worst was the establishment of residential schools. Settlers took Aboriginal children away from their reserve and family. The schools were mainly denominational and the teachers, mostly untrained.

My thoughts were with you yesterday, but given that my refrigerator was literally empty, I had to go shopping.

When I was in the grocery store, I kept thinking: here I am, hunting!

I wanted to show my favourite Kenojuak prints.

It is now back to our Amerindians.

With kindest regards

Kenojuak Ashevak – Inuit Artist

imageserver© Micheline Walker
19 May 2015

Inuit Art


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“This documentary shows the inspiration behind Inuit sculpture. The Inuit approach to the work is to release the image the artist sees imprisoned in the rough stone. The film centres on an old legend about the carving of the image of a sea spirit to bring food to a hungry camp.” (YouTube)


Inuit Art

Inuit are excellent artists. Many are carvers and make carvings using soapstone. In earlier days, their preference was for walrus ivory. Their art can be found in galleries and museums in Canada’s larger cities: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, but it seems that Winnipeg has Canada’s finest collection of Inuit art as well as several artists who draw inspiration from Inuit art. Toronto opened its Museum of Inuit Art, in 2007. But Inuit art can also be found in New York at Look North New York. (See Inuit Art)

Inuit carvings are at times very expensive, but they are one of Canada’s national treasures. I was introduced to Inuit carvings in a Toronto store. The owner was very knowledgeable. Inuit are celebrated carvers, but Inuit also produce images that are characterized by permanent newness and, at times, humour. They are heirs to Japonisme.

I chose the film shown at the top of this post not only because of its subject matter, carvings, but also because it contains a legend reflecting the legend of the mermaid. It has stories. The film was produced in 1958 by director John Fenney who also directed a film about Kenojuak Ashevak, (3 October 1927 – 8 January 2013), an acclaimed artist who worked using several media: carving, drawing, print-making, etc.

You may note that Inuit sing often, like voyageurs. They seem a very happy people. Ashevak spoke Inuktitut, the language of Nunavik (Quebec).

The National Film Board: The Land of the Long Day

The National Film Boar/l’Office national du film has a large collection of documentaries on Inuit or the north. I could not find an English-language version of Au pays des jours sans fin. It is a very informative documentary. However, I have just found it: The Land of the Long Day:

But let us see a few carvings and, in a short video, the art of Kenojuak and colleagues. Kenojuak is the most celebrated Inuit printmaker (stencils or pochoirs). She died in 2003, at the age of 85.

Inuit Art Muskox by Seepee Ipellie

Inuit Art Muskox by Seepee Ipellie, Cape Dorset, 1980 (

Inuit Art Caribou by Osuitok Ipeelee

Inuit Art Caribou by Osuitok Ipeelee (

Sources and Resources

My kindest regards to all of you.

Cape Dorset, Kenojuak Ashevak (EN)

CD2014CAL-01_LRG© Micheline Walker
17 May 2015 (first published on 16 May 2015)

Au pays des jours sans fin


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Inuit Art, The Province

Inuit Art, The Province

Baffin Island, Nuvanut

Baffin Island, Nuvanut

In the land of endless days

“Documentaire sur les Inuits de la terre de Baffin, pendant le court été arctique, qu’ils mettent à profit pour faire leurs provisions en vue du long hiver à venir. Dans la région de Pont Inlet dans l’île d’Alukseevee, les Inuits Tununermiut chassent le phoque ainsi que le narval et le béluga. Nous rencontrons la famille d’un chasseur, dont chaque membre a un rôle à jouer.”

(Documentary on the Inuit of Baffin Island. On the island of Alukseevee, Tununermiut Inuit take advantage of a brief summer to prepare their supplies for the long winter ahead. They hunt for seals, as well as narwhals (le narval; FR) and beluga whales (le béluga). We meet a hunter in whose family every one has a role to play.)

Narwhals have a long tusk. As for seals, in French, they are called phoques (pronounced ‘fuck’). Using that word in an English-speaking environment can be somewhat dangerous. My sister and I shocked two ladies when we exclaimed: “Quels beaux phoques!” (What beautiful seals!) during a visit to Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

Kindest regards to everyone. (EN)

9472655© Micheline Walker
16 April 2015

Aboriginals in Canada


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Bourgeois W-r and his squaw

“Bourgeois” W—r, and His Squaw, Alfred Jacob Miller (Courtesy Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)

“Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost continuing absence of mind.”
Louis Saint-Laurent (12th Prime Minister of Canada)


The quotation above suggests that Canada has neglected its Inuit, known as Eskimos (Esquimaux; FR). It did, until 1939.

“In 1939, the Supreme Court of Canada found, in a decision known as Re Eskimos, that the Inuit should be considered Indians and were thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government.” (See Inuit, Wikipedia.)

Matters have changed as the stories of Nunavut and Nunavik confirm. Nunavut is now a separate part of Northern Canada. As for Nunavik, it is Northern Quebec, but Inuit also live in Labrador-Newfoundland (pronounced New-fen-land) (Terre-Neuve; FR) as well as Alaska (US), Siberia (Russia), and Greenland (Denmark). We will deal with Canadian Inuit only.

In English, the word Inuit is the plural form of Inuk, but in French one says un Inuit (singular) and des Inuits (plural). Esquimaux is the plural form of Esquimau.


Presents to Indians by Alfred Jacob Miller (Courtesy Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)

North American “Indians”

Let us begin at the beginning.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia (see Indian), it seems Christopher Columbus, known as the discoverer of America (1492 CE), was the first person to use the term “Indian.” He may have thought he had discovered India, as would Jacques Cartier in 1534 CE. At any rate, the term spread to include nearly all American Aboriginals, with the probable exception of Eskimos (Esquimaux; FR).

People have started using the words Aboriginal and Amerindian (Autochtone et Amérindien-ne) with respect to “Indians.” However, although Eskimo has become a pejorative descriptor in the eyes of Inuit, Aboriginals may still be referred to as Indians, but less so as Eskimos, in the case of Inuit …

Groups of Amerindians

There are three groups of recognized Amerindians:

  • the First Nations, bands living all over Canada;
  • the Métis (mixed blood), the descendants of voyageurs (French mainly, but also Scottish or Irish) who married Amerindians and live in what is now Manitoba (from Manitou);
  • the Inuit, the inhabitants of Nunavut (Northwest Territories) and Nunavik (Northern Quebec and Labrador).

Until recently, however, only First Nations Amerindians were status Amerindians, most of whom lived on Indian reserves.

According to the census of 2011, Canada totaled 1,400,685 people, or 4.3% of the national population. These are “spread over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands with distinctive cultures, languages, art, and music.” (See Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Wikipedia.)

Images: Alfred Jacob Miller (2 January 1810 – 26 June 1874)
Crossing the North Fork of the Platte River (Courtesy Walters Art Museum)
Indian Girl with Papoose Crossing Stream (Courtesy Walters Art Museum)


The Indian Act
The Indian Register
status Amerindians
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

The rights of Amerindians in Canada were first recognized by George III, king of the United Kingdom, in his Royal Proclamation of 1763. Members of the Royal family still receive gifts from Amerindians who feared that having lost the protection of the French, who offered gifts, settlers would invade their land and endanger their life. The genocide of Amerindians could well be the worst ever. They were massacred. England drew a proclamation line behind which the aboriginals of its new colony would be secure. A Royal Proclamation also protected Britain’s French-speaking subjects.

As you know, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was of a temporary nature, but it was reaffirmed in the Constitution Act (1867) and in the Indian Act, passed in 1876. The Indian Act is a Canadian statute that concerns registered Indians, their bands, and the system of Indian reserves.” (See Indian Act, Wikipedia.) Their rights were also reaffirmed in the Canada Act (1982), a document which includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“[T]he Constitution Act, 1982 entrenched in the Constitution of Canada all the rights granted in native treaties and land claims agreements enacted before 1982, giving the rights outlined in the original agreement the status of constitutional rights.” (See James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, Wikipedia.)

Note the word “registered.” The Indian Register has been the list of status or registered Amerindians. Status Amerindians are First Nations Amerindians. Métis are in the process of becoming status Amerindians, but …

Status Amerindians have certain rights and privileges:

“the granting of reserves and of rights associated with them, an extended hunting season, a less restricted right to bear arms, an exemption from federal and provincial taxes, and more freedom in the management of gaming and tobacco franchises via less government interference and taxes.” (See Indian Register, Wikipedia.)

In Ottawa, Aboriginals are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), Affaires autochtones et du développement du Nord canadien, AADNC, formerly named the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. However, not all aboriginals are considered status Aboriginals. The Métis have only begun to gain recognition.

Greenland Eskimo

Greenland Eskimo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canadian inuit

As I noted above, Inuit were latecomers. They were not recognized as aboriginals until 1939 and are not status Amerindians. There are four groups of Inuit, two of which live in Nunavut and Nunavik.


Furthermore, Inuit have only recently been associated with a particular territory and a particular language. Nunavut did not become a separate territory until 1 April 1999. On that day, it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act. Nunavut’s Inuit speak Inuvialuktun.

Nunavik (Québec)

In theory, the federal government has sole jurisdiction over Aboriginals, but Nunavik are Québec Inuit who speak Inuktitut, as per the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

Section 91 (clause 24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the federal government (as opposed to the provinces) the sole responsibility for “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians”. The government inherited treaty obligations from the British colonial authorities in Eastern Canada and signed treaties itself with First Nations in Western Canada (the Numbered Treaties).” (See Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Wikipedia.)

In the 1960s, Quebec started developing hydroelectric resources in the north. It built the Manicouagan Reservoir and, in 1971, it created the James Bay Development Corporation to “pursue the development of mining, forestry and other potential resources starting with James Bay Hydroelectric Project, without consulting the native people.” The Quebec Association of Indians “sued the government and on 15 November 1973 won an injunction in the Quebec Superior Court blocking hydroelectric development until the province had negotiated an agreement with the natives.” The injunction was overruled, but Quebec had to sit at the negotiation table. (See James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, Wikipedia.)

However, Québec has its own Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et du Labrador (APNQL) and its Inuit live in Nunavik, Northern Quebec. The language spoken by the inhabitants of Nunavik is Inuktitutan officially recognized language under the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101; 1977). 

The Métis  

We have discussed the Métis, both in voyageur posts (see Canadiana 1) and telling the story of Louis Riel.

Riel’s story is a testimonial with respect to the hurdles Aboriginals had to face, the worst of which was assimilation. So I will break here and deal with assimilative measures that could have led to the destruction of Canada’s Amerindians. I am certain that former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien sought the welfare of aboriginals in his 1969 White Paper, but abolishing the Indian Act would have resulted in the disappearance of Amerindians. They protested.

Inuit are now educated in their own mother tongue, but climate changes are threatening their livelihood. They use kayaks instead of canoes. Martin Frobisher was the first European to meet an Inuit.

With kindest regards to all of you.


The Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Indigenous Foundations) (6 May 2015)
Louis Riel as a Father of Confederation (22 May 2013)
The Week in Review & Louis Riel Revisited (20 January 2013)
Sir Martin Frobisher as Privateer and Hero to his Queen (26 November 2012)

Sources and Resources

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (25)
Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: First Nation Peoples, Métis and Inuit
1969 White Paper
James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
James Bay = la Jamésie

Beate von Horn, producer
Mari Boine Persen (Norwegian Sami singer)
translation – Vuoi Vuoi Mu, Idjagiedas


© Micheline Walker
14 May 2015


The Art of Asher Brown Durand


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The Catskills by Asher Brown Durand, 1859 (Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum)

My computer does not work well enough for me to post anything other than a picture and a few words. It has been “repaired,” but I believe I will have to replace it.

So I am sending a picture and my kindest regards.

Kindred Spirits by Asher Brown Durand

Kindred Spirits by Asher Brown Durand, 1848 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joseph Haydn


© Micheline Walker
12 May 2015

Happy Mother’s Day


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Awakening by Charles François Jalabert (French, 1819-1901) (Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, US)

This painting, once believed to be a reduced autograph replica (a copy by the original artist) after the prime Salon version exhibited in 1872, is now known to be a preparatory sketch dated 1863. Jalabert was a devoted student of Paul Delaroche, working with him in Paris and for three years in Italy. Delaroche’s mentoring of Jalabert gained him access to an elite circle of artists, including Géricault, Delacroix, and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Delaroche encouraged Jalabert to exhibit at the Salon, as well to compete for the coveted Prix de Rome. Faithful, like his teacher, to the beautiful forms of antiquity and its revival during the Renaissance, Jalabert chose to specialize in scenes of everyday life with the anecdotal appeal of this tender rendition of mother and child. After he first exhibited a work at the Salon of 1847, Jalabert was presented by Gérôme to the art dealer Adolphe Goupil. Goupil’s accounting books record this sketch as having been sold to William Walters for 2,400 francs on May 9, 1864, supporting the earlier date recently discovered by Walters’ conservators while cleaning the painting.” (Walters Art Museum)
The links are mine.

Yesterday, I looked for more depictions, by Alfred Jacob Miller (2 January 1810 – 26 June 1874), of the life of Amerindians. My search took me to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, an excellent source of paintings by Miller. I went for a second visit today and found the “painting of the day.”

Alfred Jacob Miller

After opening a studio in Baltimore, but finding no success, Alfred Jacob Miller went to New Orleans where he met Scottish “adventurer” Sir William Drummond Stewart, 7th Baronet (26 December 1795 – 28 April 1871). Stewart asked Miller to accompany him on a trip to the north west where Miller made sketches for several paintings. The Walters Art Museum owns a large number of paintings by Miller, watercolors mainly, sometimes enhanced by what seems touches of gouache).

Let the above image be my offering to all mothers.

My next post is a continuation of the Proclamation of 1763.

A Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere, and my kindest regards to all of you.

Brahms’ Lullaby
Johannes BrahmsWiegenlied, Op. 49/9
Das Slovakische Kammerorchester

Charles François Jalabert

© Micheline Walker
10 May 2015

Charles François Jalabert
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 (Indigenous Foundations)


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The Trapper’s Bride by Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874), 1850 (Photo credit: Joslyn Art Museum)

 Put simply, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples were here when Europeans came, and were never conquered.

Canadian Aboriginal Art at the Senate

The history of Canadian Aboriginals in Canada differs from the history of American Aboriginals. The French did exploit Amerindians by providing them with alcohol and trinkets in return for precious pelts. However, François de Laval (1623 – 1708), the bishop of Quebec, threatened to excommunicate the “sinners.”

As for Amerindians, they tortured to death several missionaries. The best-known is Jean de BrébeufMohawks, allies of the British, captured and tortured Europeans. One of their victims was Pierre-Esprit Radisson (1636 – 1710), who was saved by his Amerindian family and eventually escaped. He and his brother-in-law, Médard des Groseillers (1618 – 1696), discovered the sea to the north, the Hudson Bay. Fur traders could henceforth travel by boat to collect beaver pelts.

The French Régime

the settlers’ dependence on Amerindians
birch-bark canoes

In 1535, the year after he claimed Canada for France, Jacques Cartier failed to return to France before the onset of winter. Several members of his crew started to die of scurvy. Amerindians supplied Cartier with infusions of thuja occidentalis, white cedar, and saved his men. Jacques Cartier was at Stadacona, an Iroquoian (Mohawk) village near the current Quebec City. This was Cartier’s second trip to what would become New France in the first decade of the 17th century. He was returning his sons, Domayaga and Taignoagny, to Chief Donnacona.

The French also owe Amerindians their birch-bark canoes. These were light and could be built in very little time with material nature provided. How would Canadiens have become voyageurs and guides to explorers without the birch-bark canoes? The voyageurs learned Amerindian languages—there were and are several—and Amerindians prepared their food, pemmican.

More importantly, given that France had sent very few women to New France until 1663, when the King’s Daughters, les filles du roy, started arriving, a significant number of French settlers married Amerindian women.

So did Voyageurs. Some signed a three-year contract and stayed at the trading posts during the winter. They often married an Amerindian woman. They founded a people: the Métis, recognized aboriginals who speak Michif, a mixed language. Recognized aboriginals comprise the First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis.

The best-known Métis is the ill-fated Louis Riel, the “Father of Manitoba” and the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury “the first woman of European descent to travel to and settle in what is now Western Canada.” (See Marie-Anne Gaboury, Wikipedia)

Proclamation of 1763: the Indian Magna Carta

When New France became a British colony, Amerindians feared for their survival. Settlers wanted their land. England’s answer was the Proclamation of 1763. The Proclamation of 1763 protected the French and it also protected aboriginals.

This story resembles that of the Quebec Act of 1774 which put England’s new French colony on an equal footing with British settlers by allowing them to keep their language, their faith, their seigneuries and their Code civil.

Where aboriginals are concerned, the Proclamation of 1763 became their Magna Carta. It in fact turned 250 years old in 2013 and is enshrined in the Canada Act of 1982.

If one is looking for the underpinnings of the Constitution of 1867 and Patriated Constitution of 1982, the Canada Act, the Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 are fundamental texts.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Canada has a Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Jean Chrétien, a former Prime Minister of Canada, was Minister of Indian Affairs for six years.

His [Jean Chrétien’s] one bold attempt to change how Ottawa traditionally dealt with native Canadians – the 1969 White Paper on “Indian Policy” – was so spectacularly repudiated by Indian leaders as a denial of their special status in Canada that it took him years to overcome their suspicions about his underlying motives.


We are not ready for a conclusion. This story is a very long one and it has a few sad chapters. However, we have seen that the bonds that developed between Amerindians and the French were often dictated by need, but they were true bonds. For instance, the French needed not only canoes, but snowshoes and the appropriate clothes. They used what the Amerindians used.

Moreover, after New France was ceded to Britain, both the inhabitants of New France and Amerindians were protected by Britain. The British may have had a motive: the Thirteen Colonies wanted their independence. There would be a war. Therefore, it was best not to alienate those who might help or to make sure they remained neutral. However, what seemed to be temporary became permanent. The rights given Amerindians became permanent rights. Such is also the case with the Quebec Act of 1774. There are separatists and extremists, but there has also been a long and mostly compatible partnership.

My kindest regards to all of you.


In these Fairylike Boats …
The Singing Voyageurs
The Voyageur Mythified

The Voyageur from Sea to Sea
The Voyageur & his Canoe
The Voyageurs & their Employers

The Voyageurs: hommes engagés (hired men)←

Sources and Resources

Jacques Cartier, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, MohawksProclamation of 1673, Louis Riel, Canadian Encyclopedia (University of British Columbia) 
How did the Seven Years War Affect Native Americans
The war that made Canada (National Post)
Canadian Aboriginal law
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1991


According to the Canada Act of 1982

35 (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit, and Metis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

35.1 The government of Canada and the provincial governments are committed to the principal that, before any amendment is made to Class 24 of section 91 of the “Constitution Act, 1867″, to section 25 of this Act or to this Part,

(a) a constitutional conference that includes in its agenda an item relating to the proposed amendment, composed of the Prime Minister of Canada and the first ministers of the provinces, will be convened by the Prime Minister of Canada; and

(b) the Prime Minister of Canada will invite representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada to participate in the discussions on that item.

Royal Proclamation of 1763

And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds — We do therefore, with the Advice of our Privy Council, declare it to be our Royal Will and Pleasure, that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our Colonies of Quebec, East Florida. or West Florida, do presume, upon any Pretence whatever, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass any Patents for Lands beyond the Bounds of their respective Governments. as described in their Commissions: as also that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our other Colonies or Plantations in America do presume for the present, and until our further Pleasure be known, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass Patents for any Lands beyond the Heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West and North West, or upon any Lands whatever, which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us as aforesaid, are reserved to the said Indians, or any of them.

And We do further declare it to be Our Royal Will and Pleasure, for the present as aforesaid, to reserve under our Sovereignty, Protection, and Dominion, for the use of the said Indians, all the Lands and Territories not included within the Limits of Our said Three new Governments, or within the Limits of the Territory granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company, as also all the Lands and Territories lying to the Westward of the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the Sea from the West and North West as aforesaid.

And We do hereby strictly forbid, on Pain of our Displeasure, all our loving Subjects from making any Purchases or Settlements whatever, or taking Possession of any of the Lands above reserved, without our especial leave and Licence for that Purpose first obtained.

And We do further strictly enjoin and require all Persons whatever who have either wilfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any Lands within the Countries above described. or upon any other Lands which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are still reserved to the said Indians as aforesaid, forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements.

And whereas great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in purchasing Lands of the Indians, to the great Prejudice of our Interests. and to the great Dissatisfaction of the said Indians: In order, therefore, to prevent such Irregularities for the future, and to the end that the Indians may be convinced of our Justice and determined Resolution to remove all reasonable Cause of Discontent, We do, with the Advice of our Privy Council strictly enjoin and require, that no private Person do presume to make any purchase from the said Indians of any Lands reserved to the said Indians, within those parts of our Colonies where We have thought proper to allow Settlement: but that, if at any Time any of the Said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be Purchased only for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for that Purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony respectively within which they shall lie: and in case they shall lie within the limits of any Proprietary Government, they shall be purchased only for the Use and in the name of such Proprietaries, conformable to such Directions and Instructions as We or they shall think proper to give for that Purpose: And we do, by the Advice of our Privy Council, declare and enjoin, that the Trade with the said Indians shall be free and open to all our Subjects whatever, provided that every Person who may incline to Trade with the said Indians do take out a Licence for carrying on such Trade from the Governor or Commander in Chief of any of our Colonies respectively where such Person shall reside, and also give Security to observe such Regulations as We shall at any Time think fit, by ourselves or by our Commissaries to be appointed for this Purpose, to direct and appoint for the Benefit of the said Trade:

And we do hereby authorize, enjoin, and require the Governors and Commanders in Chief of all our Colonies respectively, as well those under Our immediate Government as those under the Government and Direction of Proprietaries, to grant such Licences without Fee or Reward, taking especial Care to insert therein a Condition, that such Licence shall be void, and the Security forfeited in case the Person to whom the same is granted shall refuse or neglect to observe such Regulations as We shall think proper to prescribe as aforesaid.

And we do further expressly conjoin and require all Officers whatever, as well Military as those Employed in the Management and Direction of Indian Affairs, within the Territories reserved as aforesaid for the use of the said Indians, to seize and apprehend all Persons whatever, who standing charged with Treason, Misprisions of Treason, Murders, or other Felonies or Misdemeanors, shall fly from Justice and take Refuge in the said Territory, and to send them under a proper guard to the Colony where the Crime was committed, of which they stand accused, in order to take their Trial for the same.

Given at our Court at St. James’s the 7th Day of October 1763, in the Third Year of our Reign.


George III (See Indigenous Foundations)




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