Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's The Reserve System That Failed Attawapiskat

What happens in Attawapiskat is just the symptom. The problem is with the reserve system that fails the people who live there:
When NDP MP Charlie Angus brought his video camera to the Attawapiskat Native Reserve in Northern Ontario, he probably didn’t want to begin a national debate on the reserve system in Canada but he may well have done that. Charlie may have had some good intentions when he toured this piece of land that more resembles no man’s land between the trenches of the Great War than it does Canada in 2011. He was also hoping no doubt to embarrass the government and specifically Stephen Harper for not doing enough in the area of aboriginal affairs. To the wheezing outrage of Liberal leader Bob Rae, Harper responded that the government has funded the reserve with $90 million since 2006. The government has also placed Attawapiskat under “third party management,” meaning there might finally be some accountability as to where those millions of dollars have gone – certainly not to the natives living in freezing construction trailers.

There are just 2,100 residents living at this reserve. Can you imagine if your community received an envelope of $90 million in taxpayer funding over the last five years? One should surely ask, “Where did the money go?” But if that question is asked, then one is also obliged to wonder where has the money been going on a score of reserves for the past three, four or five decades. This query makes Rae’s latest volley at the government very intriguing: “Are you going to put the entire North of Canada under trusteeship, because Attawapiskat is not the only community that has this level of a problem,” he asked during Question Period on Wednesday.

Well, maybe the government should, because clearly the reserve system in Canada is not working.
Ezra Levant does some number crunching here. See for yourself if it's the government that should be blamed for not providing enough support for the community or if it's the people who run the community that should be held accountable for mismanagement and corruption:
There actually is a lot of wealth in Attawapiskat. You can't spread 34 million bucks a year around without it landing in some people's pockets.

Like all the very important people who work with the chief.

Chiefs, that is. The former chief, the acting chief and the deputy chief are all on the payroll. So are 19 councillors.

Could you imagine a town of 2,000 people with three mayors and nineteen aldermen?
The government can certainly be blamed for being reluctant to address the real problem, preferring instead to fight the symptoms (such as poverty) with multimillion subsidies. But the ones to blame for the third world style poverty on reserves are none other than the local chiefs and their third world style management.

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