In 1874, it was brought to the attention[footnoteRef:1] of Canada’s Ministry of the Interior that Indians in the Moisie and Sept-Îles (Seven Islands) regions of Quebec were in danger of starving. As relief, the government sent 8 barrels of flour, 1 barrel of pork, 1 barrel of dried peas, 2 kegs of lard (pork fat), 4 bags of biscuit, one bale of stroud cloth, and one bale of old stock blankets. These were allocated by a non-Indigenous trader, John Holliday, who had done similar work for the government before. He had strict instructions to give relief only to “to those among them who, from old age, sickness, or the number of children in their families may be real objects for Charity […] – as of course where Indians can support themselves by their own labor, it is desirable that they should do so.” [1: All of the background information and quotes in this question are taken from MINGAN RESERVE – SUPPLIES SENT TO STARVING INDIANS OF THE MOISIE, SEPT ILES AREA. (1874 – 1877). Library and Archives Canada: RG10, Volume number: 1929, Microfilm reel number: C-11113, C-11113, File number: 3297. https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/home/record?app=fonandcol&IdNumber=2073417&new=-8585571460577434633 ]
In 1875, Indigenous people at Moisie, Sept-Îles and Mingan were again in danger of starving. This time, the government had John Holliday buy the supplies for the Indians on the government’s behalf. He was instructed to “procure such supplies as you believe to be absolutely necessary for the Indians, not on any account, however, to exceed in amount the sum of $250, and as much below that sum as the circumstances will justify. These supplies the Supt. Genl. wishes you to distribute in the same judicious manner as has been done by you on previous occasions, always remembering that only Indians in actual want and who are unable to procure subsistence by the work of their hands should receive assistance.”
John Holliday originally missed the inclusion of Mingan, which was 70 miles away from him, and spent $115.07 on supplies for the Moisie and Sept-Îles Indians. He spent this on 19 barrels of flour and 100 lbs. of lard. Assistance was given to 28 individuals, many of whom received 2 lbs. lard and 1 barrel of flour (196 lb.)[footnoteRef:2] to get them through the winter. [2: “Wheat flour: 1 barrel equals 196 pounds”. Statistics Canada. (2008). Symbols. https://www65.statcan.gc.ca/acyb_r008-eng.htm ]
In this question, you will examine how generous (or not) this relief was, in three different ways: adjusting per capita expenditure for inflation using a consumer price index, calculating the cost of buying 2 lbs. of lard and 196 lbs. of flour in 2022, and calculating the calories and implied days of food provided.