Royal Military College of Canada
Indian Affairs In Nova Scotia
NCdt. B.W. Sullivan
Joseph Howe was the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Nova Scotia in the mid 1800s. Because his position, Howe under the Act To Provide For The Instruction And Permanent Settlement Of The Indians, makes his annual report to the Governor of Nova Scotia about the current state of the Mi’kmaq people. Although, the “Report on Indian Affairs” may be a report on the state of the Mi’kmaq people, it also gives Howe a chance to celebrate and address what he is doing within Nova Scotia so the Governor may continue to employ Howe or even better yet for Howe, go higher up within the political theater. Even though Howe’s report may be seen as very gloat full, he is reporting to the Governor in a time period in which First Nations did not receive a lot of respect from the government: “[T]he British and the Maritime governments held that the Mi’kmaqs’ and the Maliseets’ title to the land had already been extinguished”. On the contrary, Howe goes out of his way to not only do his job as Commissioner of Indian Affairs but moreover Howe actually is sensitive and sympathetic towards the First Nations. More specifically, by analyzing Howe’s actions towards the declining population, the Mi’kmaqs land crisis and finally the state of education among the aboriginals, it is evident that Joseph Howe actually cares about the Mi’kmaq.
One of Howe’s major concerns in his report is the increasing British immigration and settlement causing the Mi’kmaq to decline in population. With mass amounts of immigrants coming to British North America from Scotland, and more specifically Ireland because of the Potato Famine, it is causing the Mi’kmaq to decrease in population. Howe stresses his concern: “At this rate, the whole race would be extinct in 40 years, and half a century hence the very existence of the tribe would be as a dream”. Furthermore Howe talks about his experience approaching the Mi’kmaq, “[W]ith a sincere desire to faithfully represent in my intercourse with them the benevolent yet judicious intentions of the government and the legislature, I found my self some degree embarrassed”. Not only does Howe care about the aboriginals but also he clearly makes his point that he is ashamed by the government’s lack of care.
 Paul, Daniel. N. Act To Provide Instruction and Permanent Settlement of the Indians. 7 Nov 2013 < http://www.danielnpaul.com/NovaScotiaIndianLaw-1842.html>
 R. Douglas Francis et al, Destinies: Canadian History Since Confederation Sixth Edition (Toronto: Harcourt brace, 1996), 368.
 "Report on Indian Affairs." Citation: Joseph Howe, "Report on Indian Affairs," 25 January 1843, Journals of the House of Assembly, Nova Scotia, (18)
 Howe, “Report on Indian Affairs” (18)