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BC Sessional Papers

RETURN To an Order of the House for copies of all correspondence between the Provincial and Dominion… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1902

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2 Ed. 7                        Correspondence—Indian Reserves.                                 879
To an Order of the House for copies of all correspondence between the Provincial
and Dominion Governments, or any official thereof, since 1st March, 1901, on the
subjects of:—
1. The administration of minerals under Indian Reserves :
2. The adjustment and reduction in size of Indian Reserves.
Minister of Mines.
Department of Mines,
18th April, 1902.
Ottawa, 2nd April, 1901.
Sir,—Adverting to your letter to me of the 2nd February last, in which, inter alia, you
suggest the appointment of a Commission to readjust Indian Reserves in British Columbia, 1
beg to state that while I consider the position of both Governments in respect to lands set
apart for Indians rather unsatisfactory, I fear that the remedy suggested would be slow and
expensive, while lacking the most desirable element of finality. The Commission could scarcely
undertake to deduct from or add to Indian Reserves without making an examination ; and
the time that has been consumed in the allotting of the reserves under the agreement, a work
which has not yet been completed, will give a fair measure of the time it would take the
proposed Commission to complete its work, and at the end of its labours it might be shown
that there was as good reason for its beginning all over again as there was for its starting.
As you will observe on looking at the papers of record the Reserve Commission was
formerly a joint one, but the Province, finding the bearing of its share of the expense too great
a burden, suggested a change, with the result that a single Commissioner was appointed and
his remuneration and expenses borne solely by the Dominion. His allotments were made
subject to confirmation by the Commissioner of Lands and Works, and the work of allotting
and confirming still goes on. If the suggested Commission were appointed, we would be
actually starting a review of the work before it is completed.
When the question is taken up, it seems to me it would be better to take it up with a
view to getting rid of the reversionary right by an agreement under which such lands as
might be agreed upon as necessary to meet the requirements of the Indians should be held by
the Dominion  for them, in the same manner as Indian Reserves are held in other Provinces.
The reversionary right, which is an impediment to the administration of Indian affairs in
British Columbia, was not created of the motion of the Province. It is clear that the Provincial authorities, when negotiations were entered into for the setting aside of reserves for
Indians, were prepared to set apart what they considered a reasonable acreage of land for each
band without any intimation of a reversion. It was on the suggestion of Mr. Duncan, a
missionary, that the unsatisfactory arrangement out of which the reversionary right was made.
(Signed)        Clifford Sifton.
Hon. James Dunsmnir,
Victoria, B. C.
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.


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