CCHA, Study Sessions, 50 (1983), 609-30


The Hawthorn Survey (1966-1967),
Indians and Oblates and Integrated Schooling


by Robert J. CARNEY

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.



        Harry B. Hawthorn’s A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada1  published in two volumes in 1966 and 1967, was the first federally sponsored study undertaken by social scientists which purported to assess the conditions of status Indians in all regions of the country. Involving up to three years of effort by more than forty scholars under Hawthorn’s direction and editorship, the survey reported on Indian economic, social, and educational needs, and advanced some 150 recommendations which were directed mainly to the federal and provin­cial governments. Among the study’s many significant observations were a number of comments on the formal educational programs and economic development orientations supported by the Roman Catholic Church in Indian communities. Hawthorn equated much of the Church’s Indian work with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic missionary congregation; accordingly, most of the references to

“Catholic Indian” communities concerned places where there was an active Oblate ministry. The survey, however, gave only passing notice to the long-standing Indian schooling work of the Oblates and other missionaries. What interested Hawthorn and his colleagues were the attitudes of the churches, the Roman Catholic especially, toward the integrated schooling strategies which the Indian Affairs Branch had been vigourously pursuing since the early 1950s.

     The principal, if not sole, Indian schooling strategy of the federal government after World War II until the early 1970s involved placing Indian children in non-Indian provincially controlled schools. This paper will examine the strategy, generally referred to as integration or integrated schooling, in terms of the following themes: (1) Indian enfranchisement and its relationship to schooling; (2) Hawthorn’s assessment of the Oblates; (3) the Oblate strategy of acculturation; and (4) the Indian response to integration. These themes will be related to the paper’s threefold purpose. First an attempt will be made to determine the adequacy of the concepts and research which Hawthorn used to assess the Indian schooling work of the missionaries, the Oblates and the teaching congregations of sisters especially. Second the paper will attempt to identify what linkages, if any, existed between Indian responses and the resistance on the part of the Oblates to the strategy of integration. It will be argued, in conclusion, that the Hawthorn Survey is representative of a longstanding orientation by advocates of public, nondenominational schooling to question, if not discredit, the educational efforts of the Roman Catholic Church with the intent of ending public funding for Catholic schools.


                          TO SCHOOLING


     The Survey’s discussion on education divided the history of Canada’s Indian administration into two parts: “Paternalistic Ideology (1867­1945) ... [and] The Democratic Ideology: The Indian, a Full Fledged Citizen (1945-1965)”2 The brief reference to the first period reflects the study’s contemporary perspective and indicates a view throughout that little could be gained from examining either Indian policy or Indian schooling up to the end of the Second World War. In a section entitled “An Analysis of Competitive Ideologies,” the policy of the federal government during the 1867-1945 period is described as one “of confining bands to their reserves and as much as possible preventing contact with the outside world.”  Schooling was therefore not deemed to be important because the “Indian was expected to be born, live and die on his reserve.” Hawthorn contended that “this isolationist, protectionist, and paternalistic ideology was largely nurtured by admi­nistrators of Indian Affairs up to the end of the Second World War.”3 Two brief comments were made to the historic schooling work of the churches. They were the first to make schools available to Indians; and second, when the federal government assumed responsibility for Indian education, the churches’ continued interest resulted in their being given “responsibility for residential schools.”4

     What is implied, in this brief summary, is that the churches agreed with the government’s purported isolationist policy. In a later part of the discussion on education, two religious groups, “the Anglican Church and the Oblate Order” are seen “as putting up some opposition to the promotion of school integration for Indian children.”5 These churches were now deemed to be in competition with the government’s new “democratic ideology.” At least three issues are raised in this overview of the paternalistic period: the nature of the government’s Indian policy from 1867 to 1945, the educational activities of the Roman Catholic Church, and the sources of conflict between the government and the Church in the second “ideological” period. The first two issues will be examined in the following discussion. The last will be discussed later.

     Even a general reading of federal government Indian policy state­ments during the period 1867-1945 indicates that the federal government wanted to bring an end to the reserve and treaty system. It did not expect, as Hawthorn suggests, the Indian to be “born, live, and die on his reserve.” Once its constitutional mandate for Indian affairs was in place, the Canadian government adopted the position of the earlier Indian administration in the Province of Canada. The course of action was to “raise Indians to the level of whites” by confirming Christianity upon them, by establishing them in settlements, by providing efficient schools for their children, preferably where they would be under the active control of teachers “away from parents who allowed their children to do as they please.” At the same time Indians were to be removed to places free from the “baleful influences” of white society in order to “inculcate in them the ways of integration.”6 A basic and long­-standing paradox within Canadian Indian policy is evident in these tactics. The Indian was to be assimilated into the larger society, but for this to happen, he had to be protected from the larger society. The ultimate goal however, remained constant. If the Indian wished to acquire rights, namely those privileges which the non-native enjoyed, the Indian would have to become white.7 The Indian Act of 1876 outlines an Indian policy that was firmly rooted in this assimilationist view. The Act referred to the procedure of enfranchisement which was a means of encouraging, and in some instances, requiring individual Indians or entire Bands to give up their special status in order to achieve the benefits of full citizenship.8

     Government documents attest to a continuing emphasis upon enfran­chisement throughout the first half of the century. For example the official Indian Affairs curriculum of 1910 stipulates that four of the principal lessons in the Standard VI Ethics curriculum to be taught Indian students were the following: “Indian and White Life. Evils of Indian Isolation. Enfranchisement. Labour the Law of Life.”9 Duncan Cambell Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932, saw education and intermarriage as central elements in the policy of enfranchisement:


The happiest future for the Indian race is absorption into the general population, and this is the object of the policy of our government... The great forces of intermarriage and education will finally overcome the lingering traces of native custom and tradition.10

      In the 1930s and in the early 1940s government reports reiterated the contention that “within another hundred years, they [the Indians] will be completely absorbed into the white race and retain of their past history the vaguest memory.”11 In 1945 A. Harper, an American commentator, found much to admire in his assessment of Indian Admi­nistration in Canada


Thus, the [government's] purpose is to have the Indians abandon their cultural differences and to be biologically amalgamated with the white race. In other words, the extinction of the Indians as Indians is the ultimate end. 12


      Historic Indian policy was clearly not as Hawthorn described it. His reference to the churches’ educational work was to the historic right of churches’ to operate residential schools, but his comments do not reveal that this “right” applied not only to residential but to all classes of a reserve schools or that it only applied to the denomination of teachers in such schools. During second reading of some minor changes to the Indian Act in 1880, the question of denominational schools for Indians was raised in the federal parliament. Senator J. Bellerose was concerned that Catholic Indians were sometimes forced to attend schools “not belonging to their creed.” As the government was the protector of the Indians, he continued, “it should see that proper teachers were furnished to the tribes according to their religion.” Finding the suggestion reasonable, A. Campbell, leader of the Senate, introduced an amendment which became the basis for future church-state relations in Indian education:


The teacher... shall be of the same denomination as the majority of the Band... provided that the Catholic or Protestant minority may likewise have a separate school with the approval and under the regulations to be made by the Governor in Council.13


        The only right in law, then, was that the teacher was to be of the same religion of the majority of the band. The right to have a teacher of a particular faith applied to Protestant churches collectively. Moreover the amendment provided none of the guarantees normally associated with separate schools; for example, the only public legislation protecting Catholic Indian schools was that they were to have Roman Catholic teachers, and that Catholic students would not be forced to attend Protestant schools. That the Oblates never improved upon this limited denominationalism led to problems. When their schools stood in the path of integration, from the 1950s on, the Oblates could not call upon any general school legislation (like their separate school co-religionists in Provinces like Alberta) or to any guarantees in the B.N.A. Act to maintain the system they had established.

     Did the missionaries, the Oblates especially, agree with the Department’s enfranchisement strategy during the “isolationist” period? A general answer is difficult to give because of the range of territories served, the socio-economic preferences of the Bands involved, as well as variations in government and church practices. One should not conclude, as have many observers of the period,14 that the church­-state alliance in Indian education was based on similar objectives. Accounts of pre-Confederation missionaries, whether seventeenth century Jesuits or nineteenth century Methodists,15  indicate that major diffe­rences in objectives often existed between government policy makers and missionaries in the field. Oblates in this century were equally uncompromising in certain Indian welfare matters. As René Fumoleau points out, Gabriel Breynat, Oblate Bishop of the Mackenzie from 1902 to 1943, opposed the government’s policy of enfranchisement at every turn.16 His primary motives were sectarian, but he was also an unyield­ing champion of the treaty commitments made to Indians. With the decline in fur prices in the 1930s he became increasingly preoccupied with the Indians’ general welfare, believing with cause that their levels of health and economic well-being were steadily declining. By 1940 after a campaign in the press and representations to the highest levels of government “to restore Indian rights, to protect their lands from white trappers and developers, and to improve their social, economic, and physical condition,” he wrote the Secretary of the Oblate Indian Committee complaining bitterly that his efforts had born no results.17

     While time does not permit citing other examples, Church records indicate a state of constant tension between the Oblates and the federal government over Indian conditions. The government held to the goal of enfranchisement, but did not provide the resources to effect its achieve­ment. The Oblates sought greater funding for educational as well as other projects, but did not seek an end to Indianness. The financial reciprocity that existed between them, however, prevented their going separate ways. In 1885 H.M. Daly (Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs) explained the government’s views on the Indian schooling enterprise to Archbishop A. Langevin:


We also know that denominations can conduct these institutions at a much cheaper rate than the government, and that is one of the reasons why the government sought to relieve itself of the onus of conducting them.18


But if at some future date the government decide that it no longer needed the churches to “loyally make up the deficiency [in the costs of Indian Schooling] out of their own resources”19 then the churches might well expect to play a less significant role in Indian schooling, or none at all.




     In testimony before the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons appointed to examine the Indian Act in 1946, R.A. Hoey, Director, Indian Affairs Branch, reported that 16,500 pupils were enrolled in “255 departmental Indian day schools and 76 ...resi­dential schools conducted under the joint auspices of the Department and religious denominations,” leaving some “12,000 Indian children of school age for whom no educational facilities had been provided.”20 The Committee heard submissions on the operation of Indian day and residential schools, among other matters, for the next two years. In the meantime the Branch began a program of building day schools on the reserves and of recruiting certified teachers to staff them. Although the program was a response to numerous petitions from Band Councils, many Branch officials had doubts about its worth. Ungraded schools, according to Hoey, would never be as efficient as consolidated multi-graded schools erected at central points.21 As a means of improving the status of Indian day schools, the position of “Indian Welfare Teacher” was established in 1947. Indian Affairs saw the introduction of this special category of teacher-community worker as “a progressive advancement” which would do much “to improve living conditions on ...isolated reservations.”22 Hoey also told the Committee that the work of Indian day school teachers would be impeded unless they had access to “educational surveys by capable and experi­enced educationists to determine the educational need of [Indian children on reserves].”23

     Indian Affairs did not begin a research program of the kind Hoey had in mind until three years later, when it set up an Advisory Panel on Indian Research composed of representatives from the Branch, the National Research Council, and the Canadian Social Science Research Council. The panel approved its first two research projects, “Sociali­zation Processes Among the Iroquois” and “The Educability of the Indians of the Caradoc Reserve,” at its first regular meeting in Decem­ber, 1949.24 Additional projects approved the following May included studies by Professor M.A. Tremblay of Laval University and Professor H.B. Hawthorn of the University of British Columbia.25 Hawthorn and Tremblay were approached by the Branch fourteen years later to undertake the national survey which became known as the Hawthorn Report.

     There is no indication, however, that any of the research under­taken by the Indian Research Panel had any impact on Indian schooling practice. The Indian School Bulletin, which was published by the Branch between 1947 and 1951 as a guide to classroom teachers, contains no references to research sponsored by the Panel. The Bulletin was a compendium of teacher’s helps that included the following submission from an Indian Agent in British Columbia in 1948:


The enclosed photographs may interest you as an unusual study of eager anticipation of the daily ration of cod liver oil. The Rev. H.F. Dunlop, principal of the Sechelt Indian Residential School conceived of the idea of using a plunger oil can. By placing the long spout well into the recipient’s mouth, the cod liver oil is projected back of the tongues where the taste buds do not function. Judging from the facial expressions of the pupils, the daily dose holds no dread. Two depressions of the plunger give the required amount, eliminating greasy spoons, unsavoury taste, and dribbling.26


        It is perhaps not coincidental that the activities of the Panel and the publication of the Bulletin ended in 1951. The principal educational recommendation of the Special Joint Committee’s final report of 1948, namely, that “whenever and wherever possible Indian Children should be educated in association with other children,”27 was implemented in Section 113 of the Revised Indian Act in 1951. From then on the Branch through the efforts of an expanded force of Regional School Superintendents worked diligently to place all Indian children in provin­cially operated schools, believing that what became known as the integrated program was the answer to most, if not all, of the problems associated with educating Indian children. Another Special Joint Committee began a review of the Indian Act and Indian administration in general in 1959, and while its final recommendations two years later included a range of compensatory educational strategies, the Committee had no doubts about following the course of action set by its forerunner eleven years earlier:


For some years now there has been a move toward education of Indian children in schools which are under the jurisdiction of provinces. Your Committee is in full accord with the program and would strongly urge and recommend that it be continued and expanded. We look forward to the day, not too far distant, when the Indian Affairs is not engaged in the field of education, except insofar as sharing in costs.28


      By 1964 over 40 per cent of the Indian school population were in integrated school settings.29 And while enthusiasm for integration remained unabated in the Branch, some Indian Affairs officials “had become discouraged with the limited effectiveness and outcomes of their programs.” What evidently caused their concern was not the strategy, but the rate of its implementation. In response to a request from the National Executive of the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire in 1963 for an extensive study “to determine how Indians could achieve equality of educational opportunity with other Canadians,” Richard Bell, Minister of Indian Affairs, approached Hawthorn who agreed to undertake the project.30 The study’s findings and recommen­dations were generally well received by social scientists and Indian politicians alike, and its chapters on education were the subject of much favourable comment. Chalmers, Sealey, Shantz, Frideres, Bowd, and the Alberta Department of Education seem to have accepted Hawthorn’s comments without much question.31 More recent assessments of the education section, however, including articles by Clifton and Titley, are very critical. Clifton questions the Survey’s educational sampling and methodological techniques: “...the findings of this study may be better labelled as hypotheses suitable for future research rather than findings worthy of reification. [The] problems with the chapter on education are so severe that we may readily discount the study.32 Titley argues that Hawthorn and his associates, “by supporting the principle of integrated education... without basic question”33  and by failing “to involve ...the representatives of the native people in their deliberations” were engaged “in a gigantic act of public relations – an expensive attempt to give the stamp of academic approval to existing government policy”34 Titley also contends that the Survey passed over the implications of the evidence gathered on the positive aspects of all-Indian Schools:


...most of [the] problems of maladjustment existed for the native student in the integrated school only. Hawthorn discovered that many Indians in upper elementary grades expressed a preference for staying in the reserve school. Others believed that they would have completed Grade XII had it been available in an all-Indian school. And there was evidence that students who had performed well in reserves schools often began to fail in public schools.35


        Neither Clifton nor Titley, however, criticized any of the Survey’s observations on the work of the objectives of the Oblates and their colleagues in Indian education.

     As mentioned earlier Hawthorn found the Oblates in “real opposition to the school integration movement.”36 One of the Survey chapters on economic issues attempted to determine the source of this opposition by citing the work of “a notable group of economic historians and sociologists” who had found a positive correlation between religious belief and economic development. Examples of this correlation included the “rapid rise to economic dominance” of Protestant Northwest Europe and English-speaking and Protestant Ontario as compared to Roman Catholic Southern Europe and French-speaking Catholic Quebec. The disadvantaged condition of the latter areas was linked to the “authori­tarian... and other wordly” character of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church's “dogmatic emphasis” led to a general condition of “submis­siveness” which discourages “individual initiative and the spirit of scientific inquiry.”

     One of the outcomes of these orientations was identified in the Church’s response to situations like the following:


Where an ethnic minority is predominatly Roman Catholic in a largely Protestant or secular environment, the church has tended to encourage a policy of cultural and religious separation that keeps members of the minority economically depressed.


Hawthorn argued that the Church’s tendency to separation has been particularly evident in its policy towards Indians:


Its has maintained separate schools and has resisted integration in secular schools. It has tended to discourage migration from reserves, or other forms of participation of Indians in White-controlled activities, where the band is predominantly Catholic in a predomi­nantly Protestant or secular environment.


      An attempt was made to provide some statistical measurement of church influence upon or relationship with such variables as education, per capita income, per cent residing off reserves, and per cent population under 16 years, but the calculations based on thirty­six bands representing a range of religious affiliations led to the conclusion that there was no “measurably significant correlation of religious affiliation with any of these variables.”37 While the discussion ended on this note, the theme of the church’s separatist tendencies was taken up again in the later chapters on education.

     Among the charges levelled against the Oblates in the second volume was that their emphasis on religious and moral education “was to the detriment of a more technical and, in short, more realistic training.”38 The Oblates were also described as being inordinately concerned with their “own privileges.” The closing of the residential schools, for example, would mean that they would “be hard put economically to bear the expenses incurred by the permanent residence of a missionary on the reserve.” As “school integration represents the first step toward the dissolution of most reserves,” the end of the reserve system would result in “the scattering of the members of religious orders.” Such an outcome, according to Hawthorn, made “understandable the resistance of all religious groups whose interests are associated with the continuous existence of the reserves.”39

     By opposing the Branch’s policy of integration the Oblates and their school staffs were also accused of disloyalty. Examples were given in which Oblates “in certain areas” were found to be “opposed to progress” and “of teachers under the leadership of nuns” who “were even trying to convince the Indians that integration was harmful.”40 In their attempts to promote viable reserves, the Oblates were in conflict with official policies. The comments of a Regional Superintendent of Indian schools were quoted to underline the conflict in loyalties:


There are two kinds of objectives: the church and state objectives. The church objective is to make good people... the state objective is to give the Indians knowledge, skills and attitudes so that they can function effectively in a western middle-class North American civilization.41


Something similar to Hawthorn’s concerns about Oblate loyalties is contained in a federal commissioned study by Dr. Robert Westwater on school integration in the Northwest Territories in 1958. In remarking on the work of the Superintendent of Schools for the Territories, West­water recommended that the issue of conflicting loyalties should exclude Roman Catholics, whether lay or religious, from senior positions in an integrated system:


... he [the Superintendent of Schools] has expressed himself quite emphatically as opposed to establishing schools on a religious basis, although he is a Roman Catholic. I think it was Upton Sinclair who said that a man who claimed to be a liberal Catholic was obviously someone who did not know the tenets of his church as well as he should. And there can be no doubt of the position of the Roman Catholic church in the matter of education. I doubt the wisdom – or the fairness to the man – having a Roman Catholic at the head of a system that is responsible for the education of the children of every denomination.42


      Hawthorn had only two recommendations concerning denominational schools: (1) that there be no capital grants to reserve schools operated under religious auspices; and (2) that all denominational boarding schools be converted into full-time hostels and cease to operate as schools.43 These recommendations were already being implemented during the writing of his survey and can be seen either as examples of what Weaver describes as the good rapport “between the [Hawthorn] team and the senior officials,”44 or as illustrations of what Titley describes as an attempt “to give the stamp of academic approval to existing government policy.”45 The boarding schools were closed, and by 1972 the few Oblates left in Indian schooling in any official capacity had become civil servants, eligible for the benefits and subject to the restrictions of civil service employment.

     While the survey recommended that a number of compensatory educational arrangements accompany the integration process, Hawthorn did not recognize that the Oblates had either tried or considered many similar arrangements. What is reflected in this and other parts of the survey is that Hawthorn and his colleagues seemed determined to disparage the Oblate’s educational work. Whatever Hawthorn had in mind, it is regrettable that his research and analysis of Oblate Indian schooling initiatives lack the thoroughness and objectivity that one might reasonably expect.




     The Oblates must have been surprised to find that their Indian schooling activities became such a controversial subject after the Second World War. From the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth official government comments on Roman Catholic Indian day, industrial, and boarding schools were invariably laudatory. There was seldom a question raised concerning the efficacy of the Catholic schools curriculum of staff in terms of their appropriateness for Indian children.46 Some senior officials, including Deputy Superintendents General Pedley (1902­1913) and Scott (1913-1935), noted that the Catholic Indian Schools were run more efficiently and caused less administrative concern than schools run by other denominations.47 Government officials occasionally reprimanded the Church for its excessive zeal in schooling matters, such as when the Oblates built a residential school in “Anglican Territory” at Aklavik in the 1930s, or when they were found to be “over-educating” Indian children at Fort Providence in the 1940s.48 The boarding school was the cornestone of the Oblate schooling network, and while the government balked at the cost of these institutions, it could not refuse to subsidize them, as they were the only refuge available to destitute, neglected, and orphaned Indian children. In 1938 when Canon R. Westgate (Secretary of the Anglican Commission) wrote the Hon. R. Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources), on behalf of the churches, he included an overview of what was generally accepted as the purpose of the Indian boarding school:


the residential schools in existence today prove exceedingly useful as homes [ 1 ] for orphan and neglected children, [ 2 ] for children from immoral or destitute homes, [ 3 ] for children who are physically below normal and capable of being invigorated, as well as [ 4 ] for children in settlements where no day school exists... 49


      Except for a short-lived experiment with Industrial Boarding schools that began in 1880s,50 which sought to provide academic and trades training to promising Indian youngsters, most authorized boarding school places were taken by children who met one of the first three criteria in Westgate’s memorandum. Until the late 1940s, therefore, Indian board­ing schools were not considered to be institutions for non-disadvantaged children. Most of these children either attended day schools or escaped schooling entirely; for example, in 1944 at least forty per cent of Indian children of school age were not receiving any form of schooling.51

     The role of the Indian residential school was subject to increasing scrutiny after the War. The expanding number of Indian day schools, the provision of rudimentary social services on the reserves, and the transfer of Indian children to provincial schools, prompted Branch officials, social scientists, and representatives of some Indian bands to see little purpose in continuing the boarding school system. The Presbyterian, United, and the Anglican churches began to express similar views about the worth of boarding schools as well as to indicate support for the integrated system. By the late 1950s the Oblates were conspicuous in maintaining that there was a need for Indian day and residential schools, and in suggesting that integrated schools should be accepted only after a considerable number of conditions had been met.

     In August 1957 thirty-eight Oblate residential school principals gathered in Ottawa to hold workshop on the theme “Residential Schooling for Indian Acculturation.” The meeting concluded that any “realistic program of schooling aimed at acculturating the Indian must be based on respect for his ethnic and cultural background and a desire to meet his special needs.” Indian attendance at non-Indian schools would only be beneficial to the extent that the above attitudes prevailed among members of the non-Indian school community. The Oblates argued that unless the “social and cultural levels” of the Indian students' homes were similar to those of their non-Indian schoolmates, then integration – “in the sense of the linking together of ethnic groups in a smoothly functioning whole in which the groups retained some degree of autonomy or integrity” – would never take place. The non-Indian school would also need programs which provided the Indian pupil with a “frank, pleasant, gradual and methodical initiation to the uses and customs” of the dominant society. If the Indian student did not encounter such conditions, he would “withdraw within himself.” He would become bitter, if not hostile, and his attendance at a non-Indian school would increase, rather than lessen, “his sense of separateness.”52

     The Oblates concluded that most Indian and non-Indian communities were not ready to accommodate each other. Such an accommodation, according to Father A. Renaud (Director General of the Oblate Indian Eskimo Commission), would only become possible when the Indian community was recognized as a “genuine community with an educational problem and process of its own.”53 The principals believed that the acculturation was more likely to be accomplished in all-Indian schooling environments. They saw the Indian day or residential school having at least four advantages over the non-Indian school


1. Each individual pupil receives the same consideration as his classmates, never feeling a stranger or an outsider;


2. The teachers are more inclined to familiarize themselves with the Indian culture and mentality;


3. The teachers have greater freedom and opportunity to compare the Indian culture with the Canadian culture, without any risk of offending the feeling of their pupils when showing the advantages and shortcomings of either;


4. ...because of its official identification with the betterment of the Indian people, the Indian school is more likely to cultivate in the minds and hearts of its pupils an enlightened pride in their ethnic descent [ a pride that is ] essential to the resurgence of native leadership.54


        In a brief to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Indian Affairs in June, 1960, the Oblates, represented by Fathers Renaud and Mulvihill, objected to the contention that Indian Schools were segregated, arguing that “separation is deemed better due to [the need for] cultural trans-­mission and [the] background [of the pupils].” Indian parents should be permitted to raise their children “in the spiritual and psychological heritage” they know best. The Oblates rejected “the present policy of immediate, universal, and unqualified enrolment of Indians in non-Indian schools.” Indians should be “given control over their own affairs,” and should be assisted in this regard through adult education and community development programs and through government funded Indian controlled self-help and advocacy organizations.55  Many of these Oblate recommendations were reiterated in educational statements issued by Indian organizations in the 1970s, although no acknowledgement is given in these documents to Oblate sources. Although the Oblate brief appeared to be well received by the Parliamentary Committee, its recommendations for special Indian schools were passed over in its final report. The Oblates and the Branch were moving in opposite directions. What remains to be commented upon is the Indian response to the course of action others had set for them.




     From the late nineteenth century until the intensive integrated program of the 1950s, there was considerable Indian resistance to schooling. It took many forms, from passively ignoring government attempts to stop residential school graduates from participating in traditional religious ceremonies, to actively refusing to send children to church-run schools. A dissatisfaction with the character of schooling together with a lack of schooling places for Indian children had much to do with the rise of Indian organizations in Provinces like Alberta during the 1930s and 1940s. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Alberta Indian Association’s first memorial to the federal government in 1945 demanded changes in “the entire system of Indian education.” The Association sought twelve reforms, including improved facilities, better textbooks, a relevant curriculum, suitably qualified teachers, the provision of day schools on reserves, and an end to child labour in residential schools.56 Indian submissions to the first post-war Parliamen­tary Committee on Indian Affairs indicated a preference for schools on reserves rather than for off-reserve integrated schools. As pressure upon Indian families to submit to schooling intensified in the 1950s, Indian criticism of the schooling provided increased. This criticism is particularly evident in accounts of Catholic residential schooling by such former students as George Manuel and Harold Cardinal who had little good to say about the Oblate system.57

     A considerable number of Band Council and other Indian submissions to the second Joint Parliamentary Committee on Indian Affairs pressed for reserve schooling at all levels, and some, like the brief from the Blackfoot Catholic Indian League, resolved that such schooling be both “Indian [and] Catholic.”58 The Indian Affairs Branch did not take these requests seriously. In fact by the mid-1960s Indian Affairs officials were affirming that Indian resistance to integrated school was “vanish­ing.”59 The recommendations of the Hawthorn Survey undoubtedly strengthened the Branch’s resolve. It is not surprising, therefore, that the federal government’s White Paper on Indian Policy in 1969 recommended that all educational services for Indians be provided by provincial agencies.

     A recent Department of Indian Affairs commentary states that the Indian reaction to the White Paper was “explosively negative.”60 The Indian Chiefs of Alberta responded to the government’s proposal in June, 1970 in a paper entitled Citizens Plus. They found Hawthorn’s support for integrated education to be “illogical” and suggested that many of his educational recommendations may have been “drawn by someone else.” Citizens Plus recalled the promises made by the Treaty Eight Commissioners that schooling “would not interfere with [the Indians’ Roman Catholic] beliefs.” The Chiefs also asked that Indian people “be given the chance to run their own educational system” in order to end the many “acts of discrimination against Indian pupils” which they cited as having occurred in integrated schools.61

     Jean Chrétien, the Minister of Indian Affairs and his officials attempted to stem the mounting protest by referring to requests for Indian controlled schools as acts of separatism.62 By late 1970, however, the Dogrib Indians at Rae, a Catholic Indian Community in the Northwest Territories, succeeded with the help of Father Renaud in having the Minister agree to their petition for “complete control, responsibility and authority” for education in the Rae area. In the same year the largely Catholic Indian Bands around St. Paul, Alberta, who had been promoting Indian schools through the Catholic Indian League since the early 1960s, staged a sit-in at Blue Quills, and Oblate residential school scheduled to be closed in favour of integrated arrangements in nearby public schools. Two weeks after the sit-in began Chretian announced that Blue Quills would be allowed to operate under the control of a locally elected Indian Council. The Minister soon had to contend with a school boycott on the Kehewin Reserve, another Catholic community in the area, and in November 1971, he yielded to Kehewin’s request for a new, Indian-controlled school.63 As these events were underway the National Indian Brotherhood was putting together a policy paper, Indian Control of Indian Education, which emphasized earlier Oblate themes of “local control of education” and “parental responsibility.” The Minister accepted the proposals contained in the above document in February 1973, thereby ending the Department’s long-held strategy of integration. Since then as increasing number of Indian communities have opted for Band controlled, all-Indian schools.

     Three points should be made in summary. First Hawthorn’s analysis of historic Indian policies and the Oblates’ role as agents of the policies is based upon incomplete research and concepts which are, at best, ambiguous. Second it is clear that the Oblate position on Indian schooling more closely approximated Indian preferences for Band operated, on-­reserve schools than did the strategy proposed in the Hawthorn Survey. One might reasonably conclude, therefore, that the Catholic opposition to integration was a factor in the movement toward Indian controlled schools. What is remarkable is that the Oblate contribution to the phenomenon of local control has not been recognized. Third, Hawthorn’s rejection of the Oblate emphasis on “spiritual and moral development” in schooling as an unwarranted form of sectarianism reflects views held by public school promoters from Egerton Ryerson’s time onward. What is interesting to note, however, is that although religious and moral education, often based upon native traditions, is usually central to Band controlled programs, social scientists and public schoolmen are not given to criticizing the emphasis which Indian Bands have given to such matters.

1H.B. Hawthorn (ed. ), A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada, Vol. I and II, Ottawa, Indian Affairs Branch, 1966-1967. Cited hereafter as Hawthorn I or II.

2Hawthorn II, pp. 22-23.


4Ibid., p. 33.

5Ibid., p. 52.

6“Report on the Affairs of the Indians in Canada,” Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, 1847, Appendix T.

7For an analysis of the implications of this policy, see A Strategy for the Socio­Economic Development of Indian People, Ottawa NIB-DIAND, 1976, passim (mimeo­graphed).

8See discussion on enfranchisement in E.R. Daniels, “The Legal Context of Indian Education in Canada” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Educational Administration, University of Alberta, 1973), p. 93, 95, and 100.

9Indian Daily School Register, Ottawa, Government Printing Bureau, 1910.

10D.C. Scott, “Indian Affairs, 1867-1912” in Adam Shortt and Arthur G. Doughty (gen. eds. ), Canada and its Provinces, vol. VII, section IV, The Dominion, pp. 622-3. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Brian Titley in bringing Scott’s view to his attention.

11W.C. Bethune, Canada’s Western Northland, Ottawa: Department of Mines and Resources, 1937, p. 60. An identical statement is contained in another government publication six years later: The Northwest Territories, Administration Resources and Development, Ottawa: Department of Mines and Resources, 1943, p. 14.

12A. Harper, “Canada’s Indian Administration,” America Indigena, vol. V, No. 2, p. 127.

13Senate Debates, 1880, pp. 156-200.

14See, for example, J. Chalmers, Education Behind the Buckskin Curtain, Edmonton University of Alberta Bookstore, 1972, pp. 159-177; and J. Gresko, “White ‘Rites’ and Indian ‘Rites’: Indian Education and Native Responses in the West, 1870-1910,” in A. W. Rasporich (ed. ), Western Canada, Past and Present, Calgary: McClelland and Stewart West, 1975, pp. 163-181.

15G.F. Stanley, “The Policy of 'Francisation' as Applied to the Indians During the Ancient Regime,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, vol. 3 (1949-1950); and I. Mabindisa, “The Praying Man: The Life of Henry Bird Steinhauer,” unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Educational Foundations, work in progress. Univ. of Alberta.

16René Fumoleau, As Long as This Land Shall Last, Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1975.

17Beynat to Guy, May 1, 1940, Ecoles Indiennes, Archives of the Vicariate of the Mackenzie (trans.).

18Daly to Langevin, October 15, 1895, Oblate Archives, Edmonton.

19F. Kitto (Director, Department of the Interior) Extracts from “Report on the Mackenzie District,” December 22, 1920, Public Archives of Canada Ottawa (PAC).

20Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons, Minutes and Proceedings, May 30, 1946, p. 3, 15. Cited hereafter as Minutes and Proceedings.

21Ibid., p. 27.

22“Improved status of Indian Day School Teachers,” Indian Affairs School Files (RG10, vol. 6036, File 150-112, part I), PAC.


Minutes and Proceedings, May 30, 1946, p. 15.


“Panel on Indian Research” Indian School Files (RG10, vol. 6036, File 150-144, part I), December 10, 1949, PAC.

25“Minutes of Indian Research Panel,” March 29, 1950, Ibid.

26H.E. Taylor to Indian Affairs Branch, Ottawa, February 27, 1948, Ibid.

27Minutes and Proceedings, Junes 21, 1948, p. 188

28Minutes and Proceedings, June 20, 1961, pp. 610-613.

29Hawthorn, II, p. 31.

30S.M. Weaver, Making Canadian Indian Policy The Hidden Agenda, 1968-70, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981, pp. 20-21.

31Chalmers: pp. 316-317; D.B. Sealey, “Children of Native Ancestry and the Curriculum” in T. Morrison and A. Burton (eds.), Options: Reforms and Alternatives for Canadian Education, Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973, pp. 199-206; H. Shantz, “The Indian Movement and Cultural Rights and Freedoms” in R.S. Patterson and C. Urion, Canadian Native Schools in Transition, Edmonton: Canadian Society for the Study of Education, 1974, pp. 21-28; J.S. Frideres, Canada’s Indians: Contemporary Conflicts, Scarborough: Prentice-Hall of Canada, 1974, pp. 121-122; A.D. Bowd, “Ten Years After the Hawthorn Report: Changing Psychological Implications for the Education of Canadian Native Peoples,” Canadian Psychological Review, vol. 18 (1977) pp. 332-345; and Task Force on Intercultural Education, Native Education in the Province of Alberta, Edmonton: Alberta Department of Education, 1972.

32R.A. Clifton, “Indian Education: A Reassessment of the Hawthorn Report,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, vol. 7, no. 1 (Winter 1979), p. 2, 5.

33Hawthorn, II, p. 12.

34B. Titley, “The Hawthorn Report and Indian Education Policy,” Canadian Journal of Native Education, vol. 7, no. 1, (Winter 1979), pp. 10-12.

35Ibid., p. 11.

36Hawthorn, II, p. 57.

37Ibid., pp. 130-134.

38Ibid., II, p. 58.

39Ibid., p. 88.

40Ibid., p. 85.

41Ibid., p. 84.

42“Westwater Report,” p. 24. Attempts by the author to secure a copy of the Westwater Report in the period from 1968 to 1982 were unsuccessful. Discussions with departmental officers in Ottawa indicated that there was a report, but that it was restricted and therefore not available. The author finally obtained a copy in 1982 as a result of a review of the papers of a former senior Arctic administrator.

43Hawthorn, II, p. 15.

44Weaver, p. 21.

45Titley, p. 12.

46For a review of government assessments of Catholic Indian day and residential schools in the Mackenzie Vicariate, see R. Carney, “Church-State and Northern Education 1867-1961,” unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Educational Foundations, University of Alberta, 1971, pp. 71-92 and 203-312.

47For a discussion of Pedley’s and Scott’s views on Catholic schools, see B. Titley, “A Burden and a Problem: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affairs in Canada,” University of Alberta, 1983, work in progress.

48R. Carney, “The Native Wilderness Equation : Catholic and Other School Orientations in the Western Arctic,” CCHA Study Sessions, 1981, pp. 63 and 68.

49Westgate, “Indian Education – Suggestions for Improving the Prevailing System” (Joint church submission to Crerar), November 21, 1938, Écoles Indiennes, Archives of the Vicariate of the Mackenzie.

50D.J. Hall, “Clifford Sifton and Canadian Indian Administration 1896-1905,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 2, No. 1-2 (1977), pp. 133-136.

51Minutes and Proceedings, May 30, 1946, p. 15. For a review of attendance patterns in an earlier period, see J. Redford, “Attendance at Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia, 1890-1920,” BC Studies, No. 44 (Winter 1979-80), pp. 41-56.

52Oblate Indian and Eskimo Welfare Commission, “Residential Education for Indian Acculturation,” Ottawa, 1958, pp. 13-14, 38.

53Renaud, Indian Education Today, Ottawa: Oblate Indian Eskimo Welfare Com­mission, 1958, p. 31.

54“Residential Education for Indian Acculturation,” p. 14

55Minutes and Proceedings, June 1, 1960, pp. 721-766.

56Alberta Indian Association, “Memorial to the Government of Canada,” 1945, O.M.I. Records, Provincial Archives of Alberta, pp. 9-10.

57Manual and M. Posluns, The Fourth World, Toronto : Collier-MacMillan of Canada, 1974, and H. Cardinal, The Unjust Society, Edmonton : Hurtig, 1969.

58Minutes and Proceedings, June 10, 1960, p. 1018.

59L.G.P. Waller (ed.), The Education of Indian Children in Canada, Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1965, pp. 61, 73.

60Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, “Indian Education Paper. Phase 1,” May 1, 1982, Annex C, p. 7.

61The Indian Chiefs of Alberta, Citizens Plus, Edmonton: The Indian Association of Alberta, 1970. The reference implies that the promise was to aboriginal beliefs, but an examination of the Treaty records of 1899 indicate that the promise involves Christian belief systems only.

62See, for example, D.W. Simpson, “Together or Apart – Today’s Dilemna in Indian Education,” Indian Education, Vol. 3, No. 2, Ottawa : Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, 1972, p. 6.

63For a discussion of these events, see R. Carney, “Indian Control for Indian Education,” Indian Ed, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Winter 1978).