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As early as 1879 the Dominion Lands Act was amended to allow the governor in council "... to satisfy any claims existing in connection with the extinguishment of the Indian title, preferred by half-breeds resident in the North-West Territories, outside the limits of Manitoba..." (see 42 Vic., c. 31, s. 81e, 1879). Regrettably, the federal government did not act immediately on this extension of its policy on Métis claims. Indeed, it was not until news of the fighting at Duck Lake had reached eastern Canada that the Department of the Interior first initiated a claims commission for the North-West Territories. Order-in-Council, P.C. 688, 30 March, 1885, authorized the Minister to grant:
"To each half-breed head of a family resident in the North-West Territories ... the lot or portion of land of which he is at present time in bona fide and undisputed occupation by virtue of residence ... to the extent of one hundred and sixty acres ... and in the case of each half-breed head of a family ... who is not at present in bona fide occupation of any land, scrip be issued, ... to the extent of one hundred and sixty dollars.
To each child of a half-breed head of a family residing in the North-West Territories ... the lot or portion of land of which he is at present time in bona fide and undisputed occupation ... to the extent of two hundred and forty acres; ... [or scrip] redeemable in land, to the extent of two hundred and forty dollars." Order in Council P.C. 657, 13 April, 1886, later amended this provision making it optional for Métis children to elect to take scrip for $240 or 240 acres of land instead of money scrip only.
To be eligible for scrip, the claimant had to have been a resident of the North-West Territories, outside the limits of Manitoba, at the time the region was ceded to the Dominion of Canada - that is, the 15th of July, 1870. A few months later, Order-in-Council, P.C. 1202, 2 July, 1885, re-defined the term "half-breed heads of family" to include children who were not born of Métis parents, but who themselves were Métis - that is, born of parents who were "pure Indian and white parents" and who were not necessarily married (or the head of a family) previous to 15th July, 1870, the date of the transfer of Rupert's Land to the Dominion of Canada. The definition for Métis child still held "... to include all those of mixed blood, partly white and partly Indian, and who are not heads of families" (this definition was first given in 36 Vic., c. 38, s. 1.)
Owning to armed conflict between government forces and the Métis at Batoche, certain areas of the North-West Territories were closed to the 1885 Commission. Consequently, the Minister of the Interior initiated several time extensions to the original North-West Half-Breed Commission. Order-in-Council, P.C. 309, 1 March, 1886, extended the Commission's mandate into 1886 and P.C. 898, 9 May, 1887, extended it into 1887. Three other Orders-in-Council allowed the Commission to focus on specific areas: P.C. 778, 28 April, 1886 authorized the Department to investigate the claims of Métis families who had removed themselves to the Dakotas; P.C. 1075, 21 May, 1887, authorized the Commission to grant scrip to Métis residents in certain communities which now lay within the boundaries of Northern Manitoba but which were outside the province as originally defined by the Manitoba Act and who had missed the application deadline of 1 May, 1886; and P.C. 2675, 14 December, 1888, authorized the Department to enumerate Métis residents as part of the Treaty 6 (Green Lake) adhesion.
Following the Green Lake adhesion, the Department issued a circular to all its Dominion Lands Agents in Manitoba and the North-West Territories authorizing them to accept applications from Métis residents who had failed to appear before one of the North-West Commissions. The agents were only authorized to accept the claim, along with its proof, and to forward the evidence to the Commissioner of Dominion Lands for decision. The following year Order-in-Council, P.C. 1394, 14 June, 1889, gave the Minister of the Interior the authority to deal with these claims "on the same basis as they would have been dealt with had they been proven before any of the [North-West] Commissions. . . .". Under Order-in-Council, P.C. 630, 12 March, 1892, "...all claims of Half-breeds and Original White Settlers to land or scrip ... that are not filed with the Commissioner of Dominion Lands, an Agent of Dominion Lands, or such other persons as may be duly authorized by the Minister of the Interior to receive them or on or before the 1st day of May, 1894, together with the necessary proof, shall cease and determine". According to the register that the department established to record such claims, most applications for scrip under P.C. 1394 appear to have been processed by the end of 1893. The register is now retained as RG 15, volumes 1524 and 1525 and is described in greater detail in the section entitled "Registers/Indexes". The final report summarizing all awards granted by the North-West Half-Breed Commission from 1885 to 1894 can be found in RG 15, vol. 731, file 410221.
10 April, 1885 to 28 August, 1885
135, 28 January, 1885,
supplemented by Order-in-Council, P.C. 688, 30 March, 1885;
amended by Orders-in-Council, P.C. 821, 18 April, 1885;
P.C. 1202, 2 July, 1885; P.C. 657, 13 April, 1886;
P.C. 1394, 14 June, 1889; P.C. 630, 12 March, 1892;
P.C. 630, 12 March, 1892.
William P.R. Street (chairman); Roger Goulet; and Amédée E. Forget (P.C. 688, 30 March, 1885).
Regular reports of progress are filed in RG 15, Series D II 1, volume 574, file 175917, title: "H.B. Commission, W.R.R. Street, Chairman, Roger Goulet, A.E. Forget, N.O. Coté, Secretary [1885-1939]". Also see RG 15, Series D II 3, volume 199, file HB 5387, "Statement of Manitoba supplementary claims [prepared by N.O. Coté, 29 May, 1886]". The final report of the Commission is filed in RG 15, series II D 3, vol. 178, file HB 1166, "Report of the North-West Half-Breed Commission filed with the Commission file [by W.P.R. Street, R. Goulet, and A.E. Forget, 26 September, 1885]". A final report on claims awarded under P.C. 688, 30 March, 1885, including all extensions to 1894 can be found in RG 15, vol. 731, file 410221, "Statement of Halfbreed claims dealt in 1885 ".
Fort Qu'Appelle, Touchwood Hills, Regina, Maple Creek, Calgary, Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Edmonton, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Fort Victoria, Fort Pitt, Battleford, Prince Albert, Batoche, Duck Lake, the Saskatchewan forks, Fort à la Corne, Cumberland House, Moose Jaw, Willow Bunch, Grand Rapids, Winnipeg, and Griswold.
Total of 1815 claims were investigated by the Commission; 55,260 acres in land scrip and $279,200.94 in money scrip were awarded.
1st - from 21 May, 1886 to 17 November, 1886;
Authority: Order-in-Council, P.C. 309, 1 March, 1886;
Commissioner: Roger Goulet;
Reports: no separate report found;
Sittings: Swift Current, Maple Creek, Calgary, Red Deer Crossing, Battle River, Laboucanne Settlement, Peace Hills, Edmonton, St. Albert, Victoria, Lac la Biche, Fort Pitt, Battleford, Prince Albert, St. Laurent, Fort Qu'Appelle, and Fort Ellice;
Awards: total of 1,414 claims were received by the Commission, with 2,640 acres in land scrip and $261,689.14 in money scrip awarded.
2nd - from 7 June, 1887 to 26 November, 1887;
Authority: Order-in-Council, P.C. 898, 9 May, 1887;
Commissioners: Roger Goulet (chairman) and Narcisse O. Coté;
Reports: RG 15, Series D II 1, volume 488, file 138130, title: "N.O. Coté, NWHB Commissioner, declarations as per schedule from N.W. Half-Breeds re. their claims to scrip "; also see RG 15, Series D II 1, volume 554, file 166507, title: "Report on the work of the Commissioners during the past summer [by R. Goulet and N.O. Coté, 10 January, 1888]";
Sittings: Fort Qu'Appelle, St. Laurent (Batoche, Duck Lake), Prince Albert, Fort à la Corne, Cumberland House, Birch River Portage, The Pas, Moose Lake, Grand Rapids, Norway House, Poplar River, Berens River, Fisher River, Fort Alexander, Devil's Lake, Green Lake, Russell, and Fort Pelly;
Awards: total of 565 claims were investigated; 3,120 acres in land scrip and $81,804.15 in money scrip were awarded.
Treaty 6 (Green Lake Adhesion) - from 13 February, 1889 to 27 March, 1889;
Authority: Order-in-Council, P.C. 2675, 14 December, 1888;
Commissioner: Roger Goulet; A.J. McNeil, secretary;
Reports: RG 15, Series D II 1, vol. 501, file 140862, title: "R. Goulet reporting cases investigated at present [1886-1935]"; final report on RG 15, series D II 1, vol. 491, file 138,557, title: "N.O. Coté, Half-Breed Commissioner Encloses Declarations from Half-Breeds Living Outside the Ceded Territory as per Schedule (Map), [1886-1935]";
Sittings: Montreal Lake, Red Deer Lake, Green Lake, Shell River, Sandy Lake, Prince Albert, and Batoche;
Awards: a total of 56 claims were investigated by the Commission and $18,367.72 in money scrip awarded.
Dakota Treaty - March 1887;
Authority: Order-in-Council, P.C. 778, 28 April, 1886;
Commissioner: R. Goulet;
Reports: RG 15, Series D II 3, vol. 194, file HB 4232, title: "Encloses schedule of disallowed HB applicants residing in Dakota and residents there before and after the transfer. Refers to declaration John Bruce first resident of Provincial Government in 1869, ".
Northern Manitoba - from 26 January, 1887 to 28 February, 1887;
Authority: Order-in-Council, P.C. 1075, 21 May, 1887;
Commissioner: R. Goulet;
Reports: a single page was included as appendix E in RG 15, Series D II 1, vol. 554, file 166507, title: "Report on the work of the Commissioners during the past summer [by R. Goulet and N.O. Coté, 10 January, 1888]"; also see RG 15, Series D II 1, volume 488, file 138,133, title: "Roger Goulet, West Bourne, re. granting certificates to Half-Breeds living in Sandy Bay Band, [1885-1893]"
Sittings: Totogan and Sandy Bay, Manitoba House, The Narrows, Fairpond, Water Hen River, Pine River, and Duck Bay;
Awards: total of 256 claims were received, no land scrip but $40,780 in money scrip was awarded.