The Aboriginal Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador and Confederation
During the discussions leading to the confederation with Canada, responsibility for the Aboriginal peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador was entrusted to the provincial government. In previous cases, Aboriginal peoples came under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the Indian Act. The resulting mismanagement and negative legacy led the negotiators to an innovative approach. The lack of administrative contact between Aboriginals and the provincial government was deemed a good base upon which to attempt their assimilation to the mainstream of Canadian society. For years following confederation, the federal government withheld necessary funding and when it finally increased its commitment, the resulting financial contribution was at a lower level compared with similar cases across the rest of the country. At the same time, the provincial government demonstrated the same paternalistic tendencies, attempting to assimilate the aboriginal populations without offering an adequate level of fiscal support and variety of programs which was the trademark of federal involvement. The end result was a familiar picture of social problems and dislocations of Aboriginals across the province. The author re-examines the negotiations prior to the confederation and attempts to explain the failure of the provincial bureaucracy to tackle the problem of administering the aboriginal population.
01 Jan 1998
Aboriginal public administration
Strategic Research Theme
Arctic and Northern Regions
Governance and Public Policy