Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
The Rejection of Funds
In 1975 something profound happened at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Annual General Meeting in Chilliwack. After a couple of days of heavy discussion and debate regarding the paternalism of the Department of Indian Affairs toward Indian Bands and their leadership, the chiefs made a decision which would change DIA and First Nations relationship forever. Because of the strict control of funding to Bands and the continual severe shortfalls of funding to Bands, the Chiefs had had enough. They passed a resolution at this meeting whereby all bands in BC would, as a message to DIA, reject all further funds from the Department of Indian Affairs. This came to be known as the “Rejection of Funds”. Everyone throughout the whole assembly knew what this meant. There was fear and there was uncertainty. Many Bands, especially the smaller Bands were totally reliant on DIA personnel. Many wondered how they would manage. Nevertheless, most Bands adhered to the plan.
Bands refused to accept payments which sometimes were scheduled to be transferred to Bands on a monthly basis. Many of these transfers required reports before payments were made. Some Bands even put up signs coming into the reserves prohibiting DIA personnel from entering the reserve. DIA personnel did not enter the reserves, nor did they make calls to Band offices. Most staff were laid off until further notice. It was very hard on Bands, especially band members who relied on welfare. These members were given the option of going directly to the DIA office in Williams Lake to pick up their cheques. The plan was followed through for about six months. All the while the UBCIC continued to negotiate with the Department of Indian Affairs about the issues which brought about the ongoing actions. There was even a takeover and sit in at the Regional offices of the DIA in Vancouver by band members from all over the province, including our own. This sit in lasted about a couple of weeks.
Shortly after the sit in, I guess some progress had been made between the Union leadership and the DIA officials. The Union then began informing bands that it was acceptable to start accepting funding from DIA again. Although we began receiving funding again form DIA, our working relationship would never be the same. I believe that this was when, in about 1976, the Cariboo Tribal Council was formed.