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Department of Indian Affairs
1940 Food Rations

The following Indian Affairs ration memo reveals one of the many reasons why First Nations peoples were willing to go along with the government's half-assed attempts to make a more prosperous life for them by developing and implementing such things as it's Centralization Plan. The memo was sent May 22, 1940, by R.A. Hoey, National Indian Affairs Superintendent of Welfare and Training in Ottawa, to all the Department's inspectors and Indian Agents across the country. It orders a reduction of the 1940 welfare rates then in use. The degree of "generosity" the government of the day was dispensing as the memo reveals, while proceeding towards the implementation of its centralization policy, can, to be generous, labelled meanspirited. It indicates an almost complete lack of humanity by the government towards itís Wards, for whom it had then, and has now, a trust responsibility.

Indian Agents throughout the Dominion are instructed to undertake a complete revision of their ration lists and relief allowances. It is desirable that this revision should be completed not later than June 15.

It is not expected that drastic reductions can be made in the monthly rations authorized at present for the support of aged and physically incapacitated Indians. An attempt should be made, however, to reduce items such as tea or commodities imported from other countries.

The new lists should be submitted in due course for Departmental approval.

Relief allowances in the case of physically fit, able-bodied Indians should be cancelled not later than July 1. It is not the policy of the Department to provide able-bodied Indians with relief. All such Indians must undertake certain tasks either on the reserves or off the reserves. The cultivation of gardens, farm work, clearing land, road construction, drainage projects, wood cutting, etc. in certain districts are all tasks that might be undertaken.

Rations may be supplied to Indians engaged in such work. In no case, however, will it be permissible to supply relief to an Indian who refuses to undertake the task assigned him by the Agent; and the character of the work in which the Indian is engaged must be clearly stated on relief vouchers sent forward to the Department for payment.

We are attaching hereto a ration list to which you must strictly adhere. No payments will be made in future for commodities other than those included in the official list, except in cases of sickness, where special authorization has been secured from the Department.

A number of Indians have enlisted in the Canadian Active Service Force and the wives and dependents of these men are in receipt of government allowances. Care should be exercised by our Agents to prevent overlapping and duplication in Indian welfare effort.

Scale of Monthly Rations for Indian Relief

No. of Adults
Ration
1
Lbs.
2
Lbs.
3
Lbs.
4
Lbs.
5
Lbs.
6
Lbs.
Flour 2nd grade
24
36
49
61
80
98
Rolled Oats
6
9
12
15
18
18
Baking Powder
1
1 3/4
1 3/4
2
2
2
Tea
1
1 1/2
2
2
2
3
Sugar
2
4
5
7
8
10
Lard
3
5
8
10
10
13
Beans
5
5
7
7
8
8
Rice
2
3
5
5
7
7
Cheese
1
1 1/2
1 1/2
2
2
3
Meat or Fish
$1.00
$1.50
$1.75
$2.00
$2.00
$2.25
Salt .10 or .15 per month per family
Matches .10 to .20 per month per family

NOTE: Indians under the age of 12 years shall be considered children, and over that age as adults. Issues of rations for each child, of flour, rolled oats, sugar, lard, beans, rice, cheese and meat or fish, shall be one half of the ration for an Adult.

Departmental approval must be secured for special rations recommended by the Medical Health Officer in cases of sickness, and milk that may be necessary in the case of infants.

Storekeepers should be warned that if they vary without authority the items contained in this list they are subject to immediate removal from the list of firms authorized to do Government Business. [These rations were purchase orders made out to specific stores whose owners were affiliated with the political party in power.]

Comment: Most Registered Indians born and raised during these times lost most of their teeth before they turned sixty. The reason; the absence of milk in any form, whole, canned, or powered, in the rations provided by Indian Affairs. During my growing years I drank black tea.

To view a list of pre-Columbian American Indian Food - North and South America click: Food Sources and Cuisine

Click on this URL to read about Centralization: Canada's Shame - Mi'kmaq/Maliseet Centralization

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