This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Canadian First Nations Needs

"It's the case that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of severe violence against aboriginal and other women are male. But that has often occluded our understanding of the way that males can be even more vulnerable to violence from other males than women are."
Adam Jones, political scientist, University of British Columbia

"Now is the time for those who want the inquiry to examine the deaths of aboriginal men and boys to speak up."
"I don't know anyone who would object to the inquiry looking into the murders of indigenous men."
B.C. aboriginal leader Ernie Crey

The previous Conservative government of Canada had refused repeated requests to launch an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women. The reason seemed self-evident; there had been many previous inquiries and the RCMP had done exhaustive investigations of their own on the matter. There was little question about the conclusion, that violence against both men and women on Indian reserves in Canada is endemic. That women who are victimized, suffer at the hands of boyfriends, husbands, other relatives. (The current Liberal government has launched an inquiry.)

And it has also been pointed out that while the suffering and the loss of aboriginal women is a great shame and sorrow and burden on society, it is the aboriginal male population itself that is both perpetrator and victim; the prevalence of violence on reserves and among urbanized aboriginals far exceeds that for their white Canadian counterparts. The prison population in any Canadian province is weighted with aboriginals, disproportionate to their numbers in the general population.

A family in the First Nations community of Pikangikum in northwestern Ontario. Overcrowding is a major problem on many reserves, where housing is in short supply and living conditions often substandard. The image is from a report by Coleen Rajotte for the CBC web series 8th Fire, which will launch in December. A documentary series of the same name will begin airing Jan. 12 on CBC television and Radio-Canada.
A family in the First Nations community of Pikangikum in northwestern Ontario. Overcrowding is a major problem on many reserves, where housing is in short supply and living conditions often substandard.  (Coleen Rajotte/CBC)

Fewer aboriginal children complete their academic education; their drop-out rate is much higher than for non-aboriginals. Suicides are horrifyingly more prevalent among aboriginal youth than their non-aboriginal counterparts. Crime and homelessness and all the indices of dysfunction from alcohol- and drug-dependence haunt the aboriginal community. Tribal councils suffer from the malaise of corruption where funding meant for the entire community is monopolized by reserve chiefs and councillors all too often.

The historical wrongs and discrimination suffered by Canada's aboriginal populations, the residential schools where young aboriginal children were removed from their families and ensconced in schools whose curricula were meant to absorb them into the 'white' community and culture obliterating their native ones, are all cited to explain away the general dysfunction of reserves and their members. But there does come a time when any demographic representing an ethnic or cultural group that has been disadvantaged has to pull itself together and take responsibility for its well-being.

The problem largely is that First Nations people have been treated as dependents even as they claim to be independent,; proudly nationalistic First Nations forever calling upon the federal and provincial governments to recognize their nationhood, respect their heritage and their system of justice and law, yet preferring to remain financially dependent on the Canadian taxpayer through high sums of funding for tribal reserves. Where no one owns their homes and thus no one bothers with upkeep or normal maintenance.

Photograph by Derek Mortensen

The solution can only be found in restoring true pride to First Nations by signing treaties that have been far too long in abeyance, by making them independent through owning shares of natural resources on treaty lands, by voluntary removals from difficult-to-reach-and-maintain reserves where health services, educational services and a decent standard of civic infrastructure is hard to maintain. to migrate to and settle within towns and cities where livelihoods can be found, instead of the massive unemployment current on remote-locale reserves.

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