ONE NOVA SCOTIA BAND POSITION
The preposterous "One Nova Scotia Band" concept that the government adopted in the 1920s is tied to its overall incompetence in administering the affairs of the province's Bands. Here is the genesis of this theory:
During the first half of the 1900s, although it paid lip service to the ideal, Indian Affairs made no real effort to assist the Mi'kmaq to overcome the inherited destitution they were living in. In fact the record reveals that during this period, instead of curing poverty, the Indian Affairs Branch's main concerns were whether the Mi'kmaq on the mainland should be forced onto Reserves or off Reserves, or moved to other Reserves.
Indecision about where to move the Mi'kmaq eventually led the bureaucrats to invent a removal program. Although the program was their idea, they deemed that the Mi'kmaq who were to "benefit" from this great idea had to pay for it. To help them pay for something they didn't want, in the early part of the century Indian Affairs engineered the surrender of many Reserves on the mainland. This was the official reason given. However, the main reason I have gleaned from the records, although not mentioned outright, is that members of the White population in many areas of the province wanted to be rid of the Indians and wanted their land.
To entice Band members to cooperate with the selling off of their lands, the bureaucrats sweetened the proposal by claiming the land sales would also raise money to assist with economic development. The fact that the amounts received for these properties were below market value erodes the economic development contention considerably, but what finishes it off completely is that no economic development ever occurred.
The below-market prices mentioned were so good that they attracted well-connected members of the White population, even Members of Parliament, for example M.B. Daley, MP for Halifax. These deals raise many questions. The most obvious is why the Department didn't demand top dollar for these properties as its trust responsibility required. In seeking answers to such questions I am always forced back to the same conclusions: careless disregard for duty, corruption, incompetence, racism etc.
A fine example of how the bureaucrats used their removal policy is their decision in the early 1900s to move the Mi'kmaq Band of Halifax County to Truro (now Millbrook) Reserve. They financed the move by the sale of the three surrendered Halifax County Reserves: Sambro, Ingram River and Ship Harbour. As an enticement the Department promised that any excess funds from the sale of these properties, after buying more land to add to the existing Reserve at Truro, would be used for economic development.
The irony of this move, touted as a way to improve the Halifax Band's standard of living, was that within twenty years Indian Affairs would be trying to force these same people or their descendants to move again, this time to Indian Brook, also supposedly to improve their standard of living.
The next action is possibly connected to the Department's removal policy, but probably more connected to its incompetence and stupidity. Adding to the mess it was in the middle of creating for itself in Nova Scotia by mismanagement of Indian Reserve land assets, in 1919 the federal government, upon the recommendation of Superintendent Buoy, irresponsibly dumped the accumulated Band trust fund moneys of the Nova Scotia Bands into one pot. It then spent these funds without exercising its responsibility to expend them solely for the benefit of the Band they were raised and held in trust for. In contrast, and in accordance with the law, in New Brunswick trust funds that were transferred to the federal government at Confederation were not consolidated by the Department into one fund.
In the 1930s, probably in realization of the legal blunder it had made in consolidating the trust funds, and in what appears to be a blatant attempt to legitimize its folly, Indian Affairs started pushing the concept of "One Mi'kmaq Band" in Nova Scotia. Such an idea flew in the face of the fact that the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia had always been recognized as separate Bands and were members of a structured political system.
In addition, many other facts flatly refute the "One Band" sham. For example, historical documentation shows that the English were at same time at peace with some of the Bands while at war with others. Countless other documents repudiate the concept, such as this report about the Cape Breton Mi'kmaq coming to Halifax in 1864 to protest the use of their "trust fund moneys" to purchase land for the Pictou Landing Band:
Your committee had before them Indian delegates, representing the views of their tribe, from the Island of Cape Breton, Paul Christmas, Michael Christmas and Paul Andrews.... The Cape Breton Indians disapprove of the funds arising from the sale of their lands being used for the purchase of lands for the Pictou Indians. Your committee would therefore recommend that the purchase of said land become a charge upon the Province, and the amount paid out of the Indian reserve fund to be again restored as part of said fund.
After rumours of the consolidation began to leak out to the Bands, Indian Affairs received many inquiries about the location of Band fund monies from Band members, especially members of the Halifax County Band who were concerned about the whereabouts of the money raised from the sale of their Reserves in the 1920s. The response to these inquiries was, "No, they are being held separately," an outright lie.
There is no question in my mind that the preposterous "One Band" notion the bureaucrats were pushing was intended to cover up their culpability in mismanaging trust moneys. This fact says it all: if the Mi'kmaq truly constituted only one Band, then the Band funds of the Mi'kmaq of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec should have also been consolidated in 1919. Cover-up is the only rational conclusion that can be reached from the information available. The Mi'kmaq Bands collectively constitute one First Nation, not one Band!
What adds a ton of weight to the conclusion of cover-up is that there was a strong motive for it. The mishandling of the trust fund monies of the Nova Scotia Bands could cost the Crown an enormous amount of money if successfully litigated. When one calculates the principal and compound interest on the monies the Bands had from Confederation to now, the amount owing to them is staggering-tens of millions of dollars. A successful lawsuit by the Bands based on trust mismanagement could assure their financial security for the foreseeable future.