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The settler colonial paradox of T.C. Douglas and the CCF in Saskatchewan, 1945 - 1962. Boxall, Rosalynd Anna


This paper uses the life and politics of one man to analyse the dynamics of settler colonialism in Saskatchewan over the years directly following the Second World War. It tracks the history of Thomas Clement Douglas (1904 - 1986) and his peers in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It examines his career and colleagues in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) party, where Douglas served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 - 1962 before moving to the federal government as leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP). This paper demonstrates how settler colonialism circumscribed what was ‘thinkable’ for Douglas and his peers, with the resulting effect that well-intended policies intended to help Saskatchewan’s Indigenous population had negative outcomes. Douglas’ policy goals towards Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan differed little from the ways he approached the empowerment of all minority groups, and focused on political representation, citizenship rights (notably, for Indigenous groups, liquor licensing and the provincial franchise), and the extension and improvement of provincial welfare services. This paper focuses in particular on the extension of the provincial franchise and liquor licensing policies. Although Douglas planned wide-reaching reform for almost all parts of Saskatchewan society, he never imagined that Saskatchewan society would be fundamentally altered in order to accommodate Indigenous peoples. On the contrary, he always assumed that Indigenous people would have to be shaped to fit into the existing social and political framework. Douglas’ Indian Policy was not a paradox or an anomaly within an otherwise radical, progressive agenda. Rather, his progressivism itself was situated within the tenets of settler colonialism.

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