The Metis Work Ethic and the Impacts of CCF Policy on the Northwestern Saskatchewan Trapping Economy, 1930-1960
In 1944, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) entered northern Saskatchewan with the goal of utilizing natural resources and restructuring the northern economy through conservation and social policy in order to rehabilitate what they viewed as an impoverished Aboriginal population. This thesis analyzes the affects of government policy on the northwestern Saskatchewan Metis during the mid-twentieth century. Specifically, this study will examine how CCF policy affected the trapping economy and the socio-cultural traditions of the northern Metis. The northwestern Saskatchewan Metis participated in trapping as one of their main sources of income, while facing deflating market prices and government intervention. Through an analysis of archival records that included government documents, government employee and northern Metis correspondence, newspapers, community and government research initiatives and transcribed interviews done by previous projects, this study found that the new government policies were met with resistance by Metis trappers who wished to maintain their traditional trapping practices. Trapping for the Metis, was not only a source of income, it was a livelihood inseparable from their socio-cultural identities and worldview. Therefore, Metis worldview had a direct connection to their acceptance and resistance of CCF policy. More specifically, the northwestern Saskatchewan Metis had a specific “work ethic.” In order to explain Metis reactions to CCF policy Max Weber’s theoretical framework of a “work ethic” derived from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was utilized. In this thesis it is posited that the Metis work ethic was based upon the concept of wahkootowin, which placed high value on kinship systems and reciprocity. Wahkootowin encompassed all aspects of northern Metis life including the economy. These cultural values were also juxtaposed with living a “northern style of life,” which involved hard work and survival skills that allowed the Metis to flourish within the northern landscape. In the mid-twentieth century CCF conservation and social policy conflicted with the northwestern Saskatchewan Metis work ethic that was based on the principles of wahkootowin and the northern style of life.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeLaliberte, Ron; Innes, Robert; Beatty, Bonita; Waiser, Bill
Copyright DateApril 2013