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Now that the federal government had ruled that Métis and Indian rights were co-existent and would have to be extinguished concurrently (see Order-in-Council P.C. 918, 6 May, 1899), the Department of the Interior faced a tremendous backlog of claims by Métis residents who were born in the organized territories between 15th July, 1870, and 31st December, 1885. In an effort to ensure a speedy settlement of their claims, the Minister thought it prudent to put together two Commissions - "One for the Districts of Alberta and Assiniboia, and one for the District of Saskatchewan and that portion of territory included in the Province of Manitoba as now [i.e., in 1900] constituted, which was not included in the Province as constituted by the Manitoba Act, 33 Victoria, Chapter 3" (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 2).
The Commissioners were authorized to issue "a certificate for scrip redeemable in land to the extent of two hundred and forty dollars, or, at the option of the grantee, a certificate for scrip entitling the grantee to two hundred and forty acres of land of the class open to homestead entry; to enumerate those to whom such certificates may be issued; to specially report to the minister of the Interior any doubtful claims, for decision; and to report generally to him the result of their investigation; and that, to enable them to properly conduct their investigation, they be authorized to take evidence under oath, to summon before them by subpoena, and to compel the production of papers and writings" (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, pp. 2-3).
The Order-in-Council also gave the Commissioners authority to accept claims from Métis who were residents of the Treaty 8 area, and who may not have been able to present their claims to the Commission of the previous year. Under Order-in-Council, P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, the Commissioners were to be given "the same power to deal with such claims as was conferred upon the Commissions who dealt with Half Breed claims in the territory covered by Treaty 8 last year, and that they be charged with the same duty in connection therewith" (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 3).
As well, the Order-in-Council further entrenched government policy as to who should be considered eligible for scrip. For example, it confirmed that, 18 years would be considered as the age of majority for the delivery of scrip. In the case of younger children, "their scrip should be delivered to their parents (to the father, if living, or to the mother if the father be dead), and that in the case of orphans under the age of eighteen years the scrip should be delivered to guardians on evidence of guardianship satisfactory to the Commissioners;..." (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 2). The Minister of the Interior also indicated that the Commissioners would no longer recognize powers of attorney, or assignments; and that there would be no delivery of scrip certificates to allottees (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 2).
The Order-in-Council also pointed out that there were a considerable number of Métis in the Territories who were the children of Manitoba Métis who had received scrip in 1870. The Department was of the opinion that these children had their Indian title extinguished when their parents accepted scrip, and that no title could have been passed to the children. There was some concern, however, that children of Manitoba Métis would "not appreciate the difference between their position and that of children of North-West Half Breeds proper born within the same period, and that if they be not given scrip they will consider that they have been unfairly dealt with and will continue to agitate for what they believe they are entitled to;..." (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 1). Nonetheless, the Ministry felt it was in the public interest to recognize these claims. This change in policy toward the children of Manitoba Métis was justified on the grounds that "...as the issue of scrip is a measure of public policy for the purpose of satisfying a class of the community who have certain aboriginal rights which it is in the general interest that that class should be recognized as having been properly and fully extinguished, it is part of the wisdom to go beyond the letter of the obligation of the State towards them in order to ensure the entire satisfaction of all the Half Breeds rather than to leave any room for agitation through a strict adherence to the letter of the obligation" (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 1.)
When the Department decided, in retrospect, to recognize the Indian title of Métis born in the organized Territories between 15 July, 1870 and the end of the year 1885, questions were raised as to whether scrip should also be given to the heirs of deceased Métis children, who were residents of the Territories during the period of inaction, and who would have participated in a scrip claim if they had lived. The Minister of the Interior reasoned that, since the issue of scrip should have been extended to all Métis of the North-West Territories born up to 1885, "...it follows that those entitled who have died should now benefit through their heirs" (P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, p. 2); otherwise the Aboriginal title of their heirs would not be properly extinguished. The Alberta and Saskatchewan Commission was, therefore, authorized under P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900, to accept claims from heirs of deceased Métis.
However, in the Treaty 8 settlement and all subsequent settlements which would be signed in conjunction with an Indian Treaty, the heirs of deceased Métis would only be recognized in cases where a scrip recipient had died in the time period which had lapsed after filing an application with the Commission and the receipt of the actual scrip from the Department.
16 May, 1900 to 6 December, 1900
Orders-in-Council, P.C. 438, 2 March, 1900; P.C. 596, 13 March, 1900; P.C. 1197, 4 May, 1900; P.C. 1423, 19 June, 1900; P.C. 1444, 19 June, 1900; P.C. 2747, 3 January, 1901.
James A.J. McKenna and James Walker (for the Districts of Alberta and Assiniboia); Joseph A. Coté (later replaced by Narcisse O. Coté, P.C. 708, 21 March, 1900) and Samuel McLeod (for the District of Saskatchewan and the portion of Manitoba lying outside its original boundaries); J.F. Prudhomme appointed secretary to the Commission (see RG 15, series D II 1, vol. 784, file 556360).
The operational records of the Alberta-Saskatchewan Commissions were filed in RG 15, series, D II 1, vol. 783 and 784, file 556321, parts 1 to 4, title: "Half-Breed Commission file, J.A.J. McKenna, James Walker, J.A. Coté, S. McLeod [1900-1915]". The final report prepared by McKenna and Walker, dated 11 March, 1901, was annexed to P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901.
The final report prepared by Coté and McLeod, dated 29 March, 1901, was filed in RG 15, series D II 1, vol. 825, file 616753, title: " W.J. Roche, enquiries re. setting of Half-Breed Commission in Manitoba [1901-1903]". Both reports were later published as part vi of the annual report of the Department of the Interior, 1900-1901.
Sittings in the District of Assiniboia and Alberta were held at Willow Bunch, Fort Qu'Appelle, Touchwood Hills, Swift Current, Maple Creek, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Macleod, Pincher Creek, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Saddle Lake, St. Paul des Métis, Lac la Biche, Athabasca Landing, St. Albert, Lac Ste. Anne, Fort Saskatchewan, Wetaskiwin, Duhamel, and Lacombe.
Sittings in the District of Saskatchewan and the Province of Manitoba were held at Prince Albert, St. Louis, Batoche, Snake Plains, Sandy Lake, Devil's Island, Green Lake, Battleford, Onion Lake, Bresaylor, Fort à la Corne, Sturgeon River, Cumberland House, Birch River Portage, The Pas, Cedar Lake, Grand Rapids, Saskatoon, and Red Deer Lake (see the report by Commissioners N.O. Coté and S. McLeod submitted to the Hon. Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, 29 March, 1901, in RG 15, vol 825, file 616,753).
In the District of Alberta and Assiniboia a total of 4,397 claims were investigated, of which 235 claims were disallowed and another 856 claims were reserved for further consideration under P.C. 575, 16 March, 1901; $315,600 in money scrip and 477,840 acres in land scrip were awarded by McKenna and Walker.
In the District of Saskatchewan and the Province of Manitoba a total of 2,146 claims were investigated, of which 1,990 were allowed and 23 were reserved for further evidence or special recommendation; $344,266.55 in money scrip and 117,680 acres in land scrip were awarded by Coté and McLeod (see the report by Commissioners N.O. Coté and S. McLeod submitted to the Hon. Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, 29 March, 1901, in RG 15, vol 825, file 616,753).