11 September 2015

#41 Here’s a Pittance, Make Do

The historical treaties between the Crown and the First Nations leave almost as much to be desired as our terrible track record in adhering to them. I remember being alarmed when reading reports of the treaty commissioners in the context of my Law School course on Aboriginal Peoples and the Law. Paraphrasing: “Today we ran into another band that had not yet signed the treaty for the area. They seemed reluctant to sign until we rolled the cannons forward.” I guess that’s what passed for “freely entered into” at the time, right?

While more contemporary treaties have done a better job — backed up by the hovering threat of land claims decisions in the courts that would be much more fair to First Nations peoples — there are still a lot of problems with the federal government’s assumption of its responsibilities under the constitution to assure the health, education and welfare of First Nations peoples on reserves. And the public complains like these communities are getting some kind of golden treatment living without clean water, isolated in the corners of their traditional lands into which we have pushed them and recovering from a long and ill-advised attempt to erase their cultures by taking their children away for re-education by people who often abused them.

How golden is the treatment? Watch Wab Kinew explain what’s wrong with our perceptions of First Nations and how little the federal government spends on those vital services (bear in mind that New Brunswick is also not spread across the remotest parts of the whole country).

Leaving aside how dreamy Wab Kinew is, how do we go about repairing many decades of damage and ensuring access to all the services to which everyone in Canada should have access? Not by refusing to sit down and talk about it like this outgoing government has done.

Further reading here

Have you ever solved
a problem by refusing
to talk about it?

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