Sinclair, Jim (1933-)

Jim Sinclair, born on June 3, 1933, in Punnichy, Saskatchewan, is a Non-Status Indian political leader, and former president of the Métis Society of Saskatchewan (MSS) and the Association of Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan (AMNSIS). Growing up poor in an Aboriginal squatter community in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Sinclair had a strong sense of social justice, eventually becoming an MSS fieldworker in 1964. Through charisma and political skill, he was elected to the MSS board in 1967, and in 1971 became MSS (later AMNSIS) president. During his eighteen-year tenure as MSS/AMNSIS president, he challenged institutional racism, fought for the Métis' and Non-Status Indians' Aboriginal rights, and tried to obtain for them adequate housing, more alcohol treatment centres, and increased educational and employment opportunities. In the 1970s he established the Native Council of Canada (now the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples), which included both Métis and Non-Status Indians in its membership, and served as its first interim president. Throughout his political career, Sinclair tried to entrench the rights of Métis into Canada's Constitution. This occurred in 1982, when along with other Métis leaders such as Harry Daniels he successfully lobbied to have the Métis put into the Constitution Act, 1982 (s.35.2). With the dissolution of AMNSIS in 1988 and the creation of the newly formulated MSS, a Métis-only political body, Sinclair left Métis politics. From 1994 to 1996, he led the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents non-Status, off-reserve Aboriginal people, and in 1996 was elected president of its Saskatchewan branch.

Darren R. Préfontaine