CENTRALIZATION STEPS DEVELOPED
BY INDIAN AFFAIRS
When Robertson submitted his report he set the stage for the further humiliation and degradation of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet. The government used his report to formulate its new policy of "centralization." Under this plan the two peoples were to be relocated to four central locations, two in New Brunswick and two in Nova Scotia. One of the prime factors behind the move was the belief promoted by the bureaucracy that it would be more convenient to deliver services at these centralized locations instead of the dozens then in existence. In Nova Scotia at that time there were nineteen locations staffed by political appointees. True to form, the opinions of the people who were to be most affected most by centralization were not asked for, or seriously considered.
Robertson provided recomendations that he envisioned would make the Maritime First Nations self-sufficient, which Indian affairs utilized to develope it's centralization program:
(a) Placing the Indians on reserves containing good agricultural land where he can be given a decent home. Instructions in farming and proper supervision.
(b) Direct relief to be discontinued and all able to work required to work for anything received.
(c) The appointment of full time agents whose duty will be not only supervision, but also to find markets for the Indian's products.
(d) The teaching of agriculture in the schools by school gardens and talks.
(e) The giving of short courses in agriculture to a few Indian boys who show interest in agriculture.
(f) The securing of the cooperation of the Indians by the holding of meetings for the purpose of discussing their problems with them.
(g) The full cooperation with the church in everything affecting the Indian.
(h) The encouragement of the Indian to produce by sharing with him any reduction in his allowance made possible by his own effort.
(i) The granting of no assistance to Indians living off their Reserve [to force them back onto the Reserve; the Department did not completely cut off Registered Indians living off Indian Reserves until 1967].
The adoption of this plan or policy would necessitate the securing of more Reserves as there is not enough good land on the present ones.
He then provides an explanation for the drastic changes recommended:
"The moving of quite a number of Indians. In order to find the Indians' feelings on this subject I spent considerable time discussing it with them in the different parts of the Province. All opposition disappeared when they found it would be to their own benefit.
The building of quite a number of homes. These houses should be built by the Indians themselves and they should not be finished on the inside for sanitary reasons. A house one and a half stories, twenty by thirty, with eight windows and two doors, sufficient for a family of five, built in this way should not cost more than one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred dollars in Nova Scotia (Yarmouth).
The appointment of full-time competent Agents. It is impossible to give the necessary supervision with part-time men and that supervision is absolutely necessary is amply evidenced by the fact that only at places where supervision is given is there any headway being made.
On the appointment of competent Agents depends the success or failure of the plan, for we cannot have proper supervision without competent men. These Agents would not only supervise but they would also find markets for the Indian's products. In the appointment of these Agents no matter of any kind should be considered except the fitness of the man for the position. It should not be forgotten in the appointment of these men that they are to deal with human beings, whose bodily and spiritual welfare depends to a large extent upon the sympathetic execution of their duty.
The securing of the Indians' cooperation through meetings. This in my opinion is another vital matter. No organization is ever of any force or effect unless the members feel they are a vital part of it and are consulted re. its affairs. This is true of the White man, and that it is also true of the Red is demonstrated by the fact that at Truro where this system has been adopted this year the Agent is getting full cooperation and is making real headway.
The full cooperation with the Church. This is another vital matter as both are working for the same object, the welfare of the Indian, and any friction would injure the cause.
Encouraging the Indian to produce. There is no question of the necessity of this as if there is no incentive there is not much work.
The giving of no assistance to Indians off the Reserve. While this would be the rule, there would be exceptions as there would be a number of cases where Indians had work for the greater part of the year and would require very little assistance to carry them through. In cases of that kind it would be folly to force them to return to the Reserve."
Click on the following URLs to read about how Centralization was begot, implemented, and abandoned.
Centralization Plan Roots
Centralization Plan Implemented - 1942
Centralization Plan Abandoned - 1950
Centralization - Product of White Supremacist Bureaucrats
ChiefBen Christmas - Mi'kmaq Centralization opponent Hero.html
Department of Indian Affairs Ration Rates - 1940