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.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

First Nations Dilemma and Solution

"[It is not easy to remove the] shackles [of 140 years of life under the legislation of the Indian Act, but government] is committed to ensuring we work in partnership with indigenous peoples to do just that."
"Only the colonized can de-colonize themselves."
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould
Many Canadians choose to live their lives away from Canada's urban centres. They build their homes in countrified wooded areas set back from highways and don't have many neighbours. Some prefer to live in small town, enjoying semi-urbanized life in more natural surroundings. And many prefer to situate themselves in places where not too many others choose to live, solitary and determined to live life as they prefer it, isolated from others.

Those who do so presumably weigh all the negative features of a lifestyle they have chosen; drawing their water from wells, and living off-grid, heating by propane or wood stove, and living distances from conveniences taken for granted in cities. Access to health care necessitates long drives, and shopping is not convenient. Children have to be bused long distances to attend rural schools. When home repairs are required, services are called in from fair distances.

Or the home owners undertake them on their own, particularly if they're manageable repairs. It can be costlier, and certainly less convenient to live in semi-isolation, but the choice remains a popular one. And people, by and larger, prepare themselves by preference to live in this way, taking pride in their resilience and enterprise in looking after their more direct needs. There is no public transit, and people rely upon their own capacity to provide for themselves.

For indigenous people in Canada the choice is to live in urban centers and thus assimilate into the aggregate society, or for many others to live with pride as their ancestors did. Only they do not live as their ancestors did. They may be living in remote areas that represent ancestral land, but those that went before were capable of tending to their own needs, and present-day aboriginals do not. They are reliant on government support for all their living needs.

And so, it becomes inevitable that issues of health, education, police and fire protection -- communal living arrangements and a futile search for employment other than for those locally hired to work for band offices in service to the reserve chief and councillors -- represent a bare scarcity. There can be no hospitals, theatres, secondary schools, supermarkets and infrastructure identified as those common to urban areas on tribal reserves housing several hundred or several thousand people.

With all their needs looked after by tax dollars through annual financial transfers, reserves are meant to be as self-sufficient as possible, but many are not, though many are. Problems such as aging housing, spring flooding, medical emergencies, potable water deficiencies, fires, crime, all plague reserves, just as they would anyone who prefers to live independently on their own resources. But it is only aboriginals that can call upon governments to come to their aid when dilemmas strike.

Exemption from specific provincial laws, exemption from taxes, communal land tenure are all protected under the Indian Act, an Act that has confounded politicians who are confronted time and again with the need to modernize and upgrade relations between governments and First Nations. First Nations leaders agitate consistently for more funding, but more money has never proven useful in solving endemic problems that exist and persist.

Aboriginal rights reflected in special rights to hunt, fish, establish treaties and practise traditional culture are meant to be protected. First Nations chiefs insist that only First Nations themselves should decide how they will go about providing services to their own people, and that the intervention of governments is unneeded. Despite which Band councils have failed to adequately account for their funding allocations and have not in too many instances properly administered reserve needs.

They want the funding, and claim that all responsibility should be theirs to administer reserves. It is the status quo they insist on preserving, First Nations living on traditional lands in the traditional manner, practising cultural values of meaning to them, and brooking no interference from government. Yet because their track record is so poor and additional funding that they claim will result in repairing all the ills of insufficiency has been proven not to work, it is time for another solution.

And that solution is an end to living in geographic areas that are inaccessible, remote and incapable of providing for the people living there. Where health and education, employment and recreational services comparable to what is available in cities are not practically available. It is time for First Nations to recognize that isolation will not work for those unwilling or incapable of fending for themselves.

And it is past time to relocate, to move closer to urban centers where access to all that they demand will be possible.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet