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Human Rights Report On DNS Hints Racism

Keith Howell of the Moccasin Telegraph

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1977      v07 n10 p44  
A report by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has been branded biased and unacceptable by Ted Bowerman, the Minister for Northern Saskatchewan.

The report says in the DNS region, the people of native ancestry have traditionally and historically been rejected by the non-native segment of the society, and have been subject to prejudice and bigotry. The result has been, among other things, a lack of opportunities for adequate education and the acquisition of those skills which our society demands. They have, therefore, had to accept and live with low educational, occupational, and income attainments, with incomes below the "poverty level"..., and have been relegated to the lowest status in our society.

The report was compiled with the help of 247- completed questionnaires by employees of the department itself. The report includes findings of an investigation into hiring practices by the DNS, along with recommendations of the commission.

Of the comments received by the commission in answer to its questionnaire, some non-native respondents were vocal, and expressed this resentment voluntarily. The commission report quotes a social worker felt the main reason why native people were not holding jobs was because "they were laying on their backs in places like Sandy Bay, having babies, collecting welfare, family allowance..." The report goes on to say others also felt northerners of native ancestry were nothing but drunks and hooligans, living off government hand-outs. There was also the feeling expressed that the Indian people may be ready at sometime in the future, but that now, they ARE NOT CAPABLE of holding jobs.

In short, the commission found there are northerners of native ancestry in the employ of the Department of Northern Saskatchewan...that, once on staff, these people's salaries and terms and conditions of employment are not different from other employees in the same job classifications.

However, the report says these people, for the most part, are found in the lower-level positions. The director of regional economic development is said to be the ONLY person of native ancestry at the policy-making level and, the probability of moving out of low-level and dead-end positions, according to the report, is not very high because of the lack of educational requirements, and the training programs have not succeeded in enabling the employees to move up through the system, if they so wish.

The first high school in the DNS district was opened in Uranium City in 1957. However, at that time, no one of native ancestry lived in Uranium City. The next was opened in La Ronge in 1962, and the third in Ile-a-la-Crosse in 1977. Buffalo

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Human Rights Report On DNS Hints Racism

Keith Howell of the Moccasin Telegraph

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1977      v07 n10 p45  
(CONTINUED FROM LAST PAGE)

Narrows was able to offer its students Grade 11 education in 1976, and the residential school at Beauval will offer grade 12 this coming school year. Cumberland House will offer grade 11 to students in that community for the first time this year. This meant that students either had to leave their communities and go to the centres where the education facilities were available, or not obtain the education. The high drop-out rate of those who were sent out of their communities to the centres where facilities were to be found is common knowledge. The report says these people then became the victims of a set of circumstances beyond their control. They do not have the education and pre-training required, and cannot be employed in any but low-level labouring jobs.

With regard to employment, the commission reported the present structure of the organization, and the requirements in the recruitment and selection process, effectively screen out and reject many northerners of native ancestry, because many lack the required formal education and qualifications...even though they may well be able to perform in jobs with greater responsibility, if adequate training and supervision were provided them. Therefore, the report continues, the department has built into its structure and process, the means of perpetuating discriminatory practices. These are perceived by the native people as based on racial considerations, and as an attempt to perpetuate the low economic status of the group. The commission maintains that continuation of this process breeds a frustration and greater sense of powerlessness among the people, and continues to damage their sense of dignity and self-worth, and breeds many social ills.

In a preface to the report, Judge Tillie Taylor, chairperson for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, said the commission feels the findings are set out as objectively as possible, and reaches logical conclusions.

The DNS district is described as extending north of Prince Albert, Nipawin, and Meadow Lake areas, and reaches to Uranium City. It encompasses the area in this province with the highest concentration of Indian reservations and metis communities. Total population of the area is approximately 24,000, of which some 8,600 people are Treaty Indians, and 15,500 are metis and northerners who are not of native ancestry.