HomeManitoba AffidavitsSection 31

Section 31

Section 31 of the Manitoba Act addressed the extinguishment of Indian title by granting 1.4 million acres to the children of Métis families residing in the province at the time Rupertsland was transferred to Canada (15 July 1870). Sub-sections 1 to 3 of Section 32 of the Act dealt with the recognition, by Canada, of land already acknowledged as personal property by the Hudson’s Bay Company prior to the transfer. Sub-sections 4 and 5 of Section 32 dealt with people who possessed land or had access to resources before and/or during the transfer of land.

Although the Manitoba Act was passed in 1870, months of discussion and debate occurred within the government about how to carry out the distribution of land to the Métis. In the spring of 1875, John M. Machar and Matthew Ryan, barristers from Kingston and Montreal respectively, were appointed by Canada as Commissioners to investigate claims of “children of half-breed heads of families to participate in the grant of land, and the claims of the heads of families to a grant of scrip.”[1]

Through federal Order-in-Council P.C. 128 1/2 on 23 March 1876 the recommendations and methods used by Machar and Ryan to distribute scrip were formally adopted and approved, thereby formulating a process of carrying-out Section 31 of the Manitoba Act of 1870.[2] Manitoba Métis “children-of-heads-of-family” were issued 240 acres of land, and “heads-of family” were issued $160 in the form of scrip. After the 1.4 million acre land grant had been allocated, Métis individuals who had not been included in the original allocation but who had a claim were issued supplemental scrip (ca. 1885).[3] 

The actual process of granting the 1.4 million acres of Section 31 land required Métis individuals to make an application, in the form of an affidavit, with the Commissioners who were appointed by the government. These Affidavits contained information about the applicant’s family, occupation, marital status, children, and residence. We now refer to these documents as the Section 31 Manitoba Act Affidavits (or “Manitoba Affidavits”).

The federal Department of the Interior presided over and kept records of the process of Manitoba Act grants. These records, including the original Affidavits used for Section 31 grants, still exist today and are held by Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. The Affidavits have been microfilmed by the National Archives.

Example of a Declaration:

Declaration of Catherine Abdemar, head-of-family (digitized image after enhancement)

Declaration of Catherine Abdemar, head-of-family (digitized image after enhancement) SOURCE: LAC RG 15, vol. 1319, Microfilm Reel C-14925.

[1] LAC, RG 15, vol. 38, file 2, N.O. Cote, “Administration and Sale of Dominion Lands,” Department of the Interior, 1931. See also Jeffrey Murray, “A Guide to the Records of the Métis Scrip Commissions in the National Archives of Canada,” National Archives of Canada, and, p. 24 [unpublished].

[2] 2 Murray, “A Guide,” p. 24. See also Thomas Flanagan, Metis Lands In Manitoba (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1991) pp. 139-140.

[3] This claims process was associated with the Northwest “Half-breed” scrip that dealt with Métis scrip claims outside of the original postage-stamp province of Manitoba.