From the onset of the plan's implementation, opposition was very strong among some members of the Bands. As time passed this opposition came to be held by the majority. As a matter of fact the Agent at Eskasoni, J.A. MacLean, in a moment of truth admitted to Hoey in a letter dated May 27, 1944, "that approximately 75 percent of the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia were opposed to centralization."
In a response to MacLean's memo, dated June 5, 1944, Hoey said: "The writer is of the opinion that you should not attach too much importance to this nominal opposition." If Mr. Hoey considered 75 percent to be a small opposition, just what would he have considered a large opposition? He went on to say: "It is altogether likely that the delay in moving these bands to Eskasoni has resulted in a certain amount of dissatisfaction."
Among the most ardent and consistent opponents to the centralization plan was a member of the Membertou Band, the late Ben Christmas. Ben was at the time the President of the United General Indian Council of Nova Scotia and, after 1923, Chief of the Membertou Band, a position he held for forty years. Also among the early opponents of the plan was Chief Joseph Julien of Millbrook, Margaret Phillips of Cole Harbour, Noel Marshall of Chapel Island and Joseph Cope of Halifax County.
However, Chief Christmas, a very articulate man, was considered by the Department the most influential among them. He would have been amused by a description of him written by the Eskasoni Indian Agent dated March 1, 1943, concerning his opposition to the Department's centralization plans. MacLean wrote: "It appears that Ben Christmas, an Indian of Membertou Reserve, Sydney, N.S., who is considered to be somewhat more intelligent than the ordinary Indian...." MacLean obviously had a low opinion about the intelligence of Native Americans in general and was amazed Mr. Christmas could rise above this standard. He continued: "I have been asked to inform you that no notice should be taken of letters from Mr. Christmas regarding the centralization plan, or from others who may write in this regard, as regardless of whose name may be used as a signature, Mr. Christmas is the man behind the gun."
By 1949, politicians and bureaucrats were becoming increasingly nervous about the health of the centralization policy. In an effort to keep up a semblance of growth in the two centralized communities, Agents were even enticing Mi'kmaq and Maliseet from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec to move to Nova Scotia. At one time the Shubenacadie Indian Reserve was populated by Mi'kmaq from at least two dozen different Bands. But opposition towards further implementation of the policy continued to build among the Bands in the province. By 1949 not one Mi'kmaq community in Nova Scotia was cooperating with the Department. The People were aware that the false promises of economic miracles had not materialized. Those who had moved were still caught in the same poverty cycle, just in a new location.
Thus it became evident that the only means left to achieve centralization was by force. The record indicates that even this option was given some serious consideration by the Department.
Without a doubt the policy of centralization was bankrupt from the day of its conception. It was a blatant attempt to implement cultural genocide! The same horrific practice of herding another race of people to another location in defiance of their wishes was used during the same period by another dictator, Joseph Stalin. During his reign of terror in the USSR, he deported several nationalities to far-flung parts of the former Soviet Union in order to destroy their cultures. However, he failed, just as the Department failed in its attempt to destroy the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Nations.
During the Department's attempts at centralization in New Brunswick, they even considered moving members of Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations into one community at Kingsclear Indian Reserve. If this move had not been vigorously resisted by both Nations, it would have been a cultural disaster-which, on reflection, had been the government's intent.
Perhaps the best testament to the failure of the centralization policy was contained in a report written by the Agent in charge of the Shubenacadie Indian Agency, H.C. Rice, dated March 23, 1949, to Indian Affairs in Ottawa. Therein he seems to suggest that force should be used to centralize all the Mi'kmaq on the mainland:
“It would appear that the time is past due when a hard and fast policy should be laid down respecting the position that the Centralized Reserve at Micmac (Shubenacadie), N.S., is to play in respect to the Indians on the Mainland of Nova Scotia.”
by 1950, the totally discredited centralization plan was abandoned.
Click on the following URLs to read about how Centralization was begot, developed, and implemented.
Centralization Plan Roots
Centralization Plan Developed
Centralization Plan Implemented - 1942
Centralization - Product of White Supremacist Bureaucrats
ChiefBen Christmas - Mi'kmaq Centralization opponent Hero
Department of Indian Affairs Ration Rates - 1940