Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Native Migrant Labour in the Southern Alberta Sugar-beet Industry: Coercion and Paternalism in the Recruitment of Labour*

Document type Article
Author Satzewich, Vic
Author Laliberte, Ronald F.
Journal Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie
Volume 36
Date 1999
ISSN 1755-618X
Pages 65-85


Research has begun to increasingly document Native peoples' participation in wage employment in Canada. Despite an acknowledgement of native participation in wage labour, little is known of the role of the state in mobilizing Native workers for Canadian industry. Using the case of Native migration to the southern Alberta sugar-beet industry in the 1950s and 1960s, this paper analyzes the role of the state in the mobilization of the native workers for employment. We show that the various levels of the state, acting through federal/provincial manpower committees and the Indian Affairs Branch of the federal government, used a variety of paternalistic and coercive measures to help farmers in southern Alberta recruit and retain Native workers. One of the main measures used by the federal and provincial governments to coerce Native people into migration was to cut off social assistance benefits to those Native people deemed to be employable.