Impacts: Loss of Land

First Nations people suffered devastating impacts as the result of the loss of their land and all the natural resources that flowed from the land. With the reduction in reserve size and lack of mobility on surrounding lands, Indian access to land and resources became restricted to the reserve boundaries. For example, in areas of the province where First Nations people were traditionally dependant on salmon, some adjustments made by the Royal Commission either reduced, restricted or eliminated Native access to salmon. The adjustments made to the reserves allowed settlers to fish further downstream, giving them access to the salmon before First Nations. At the same time, salmon spawning areas were being destroyed due to neighbouring resource development such as mining.

Nanaimo Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Co.

The ability to remain self-sufficient declined, which led to the creation of a social system where First Nations became dependent on the government.

Testimonies (click here to search the testimonies) from the Royal Commission hearings indicate that the Federal and Provincial governments, along with Indian Agents, actively encouraged First Nations to abandon traditional practices in favour of European agricultural and cultivation practices. First Nations people were encouraged to cultivate their reserve lands despite lacking the resources to do so successfully. Lands not being used for European style farming, were considered inadequately used or completely unused. Even people who wanted to farm on reserves faced difficulties, as seen in the testimonies at the Royal Commission. For example:Irrigation ditch on reserve land

  • reserve lands were often of poor quality for farming
  • they had insufficient access to water for irrigation
  • First Nations people lacked the financial resources needed (farm equipment, seed, etc.) in order to farm effectively

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