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The employment problems and economic status of the British Columbia Indians Thompson, Francis Wilfred

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to enquire into the problems which face the British Columbia Indians in seeking employment, or in working as members of the labour force of the province. It also seeks to discover to what extent and in what ways the native Indians have been assimilated into the provincial labour force. An examination of these aspects of the life of the Indians should bring to light some clues as to their social needs as a minority group in the province. The study was begun with a full appreciation of the scarcity of information on the subject. The survey was confined to the Vancouver region, and to the predominant occupations, in view of the limitations of time and the fact that the population is scattered over a wide area. Interviewing of the Indian people themselves was the chief method used. As there are very few Indians on Social Assistance in the metropolitan area, material from this source was not available. The results show that the coastal Indians of British Columbia, who form a majority of the native population, are limited in their range of employment to the primary industries, chiefly fishing and lumbering. This limitation is undoubtedly favoured by cultural preference, but it is also clearly due to lack of vocational training for other occupations. Rigid governmental supervision during the past eighty years has also inhibited many from competing with the general population at the ordinary levels of opportunity. The prime purpose of the study is to underline and illustrate the welfare implications of employment. The importance of educational factors is strongly brought out. There are individual examples of the overcoming of the economic and psychological obstacles. But reforms in status and opportunities will be necessary to effect more substantial change.

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