Walking in Indian Moccasins: The Native Policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF

Synopsis

In 1944, Saskatchewan elected the first socialist government in North America. Led by the dynamic Tommy Douglas, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation vowed to create a society based on principles of cooperation rather than competition and to make themselves the instrument of social and economic justice for the oppressed. They were also the first government in Canada to make a firm commitment to improving conditions for Native people and their official slogan, 'Humanity First,' was understood to refer to Indian and Metis people. But was their commitment more than just an election slogan? Walking in Indian Moccasins is the first work to offer a different view of the Douglas government: their policies, their applications, and their shortcomings. Much more than that, however, it is a careful account of the development of Indian and Metis people in Saskatchewan in the post-war period. The goal of the CCF was to 'walk in Indian moccasins,' promising a degree of empathy with Native society in bringing about reforms. In reality, this aim was not always honoured in practice and essentially meant integration for the Indians of the province and total assimilation for the Metis.

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