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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Never-Ending Dilemma of First Nations Reserves

"Without having data right from the nursing station or our police service, I think it's very difficult to sort of differentiate what you would call a serious attempt [at suicide] versus people just thinking about self-harm."
"I think what we're hearing is that there's just a wide range of high-risk behaviour that people are seeing in the community ... which requires medical intervention."
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawhe Aski Nation

"They are very, very remote, they're small, there's no economy. There is a sense -- especially among the younger people -- of despair, a lack of opportunity and it leads to depression and anxiety and these sorts of things."
Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer
A tattered Canadian flag flies over a building in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Nov. 29, 2011. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Yet another in the ongoing series of crises in First Nations communities in Canada. Communities that are remote and isolated, lacking opportunities for self-fulfillment in any measure reflecting normal life and modernity and certainly not enabling to the reserve residents to live as they once did, as hunters and trappers, a way of life that has long been suspended. Because these communities are so remotely located, amenities usually associated with life in non-native communities in an economically and technologically advanced country like Canada are absent.

Primary schools administered by band councils may be available to reserve children, but a culture valuing education for the young has not developed to the point where children are taught to respect education and seek it as a way of preparing themselves for the future and in so doing propelling themselves into the future. Secondary school opportunities exist only off-reserve. Poverty is endemic in these reserves for the most part. No job opportunities, bare-bones education, and the same for medical and policing and fire-fighting services.

People who choose to live isolated lifestyles might be thought best to be prepared as well to be resourceful, to become involved in producing the best possible lifestyle under the circumstances to benefit all tribal members. To be responsible for learning how to use systems that purify water to make it potable and safe, to be familiar with the use of fire-fighting equipment, to value a well-run community administered with the best interests of the residents uppermost in mind. To be responsible for one's own well-being.

Instead, boredom and lassitude lead to self-abuse through alcohol and drug addiction, and the needs of children are ignored. And children pattern themselves after the examples of their elders. Living in isolation is no guarantee that life can be splendid; human needs of medical attention, of educational and employment opportunities cannot be fulfilled when skilled professionals have no wish to become part of an isolated community, sharing scarce resources and a minimal lifestyle. The result is despair among children for whom there are no attainable goals.

Housing is substandard because those who live in  houses they don't own, take no care of them, prepared to respond when, inevitably upkeep is required. People for whom life lacks the pressures and stresses of being responsible for their own well being have little to care about; financial transfers from governments to band councils look after the fundamentals of life, and in so doing, leave people in jeopardy; they remain unable to care for themselves and are not stimulated to improve their conditions.
attawapiskat flooding

Aerial view of Attawapiskat First Nation. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

The remote James Bay First Nation of Attawapiskat was formerly declared in an emergency situation resulting from inadequate living arrangements, housing that was in short supply and deteriorating. Now another emergency has emerged, one not uncommon to remote reserve life, that of young people suffering health problems and anti-social fallout through bullying, prepared to take their own lives. An epidemic of suicide planning was reported, startling the nation with the declaration by Chief Bruce Shisheesh of Attawapiskat that the community needs help.

"Community front line resources are exhausted and no additional outside resources are available", he claimed in a declaration of emergency. Since a 13 year-old girl, Sheridan Hookimaw, committed suicide last October another hundred attempts by others at suicide have occurred. And in one day, eleven young people from the community have spoken of attempting suicide. In response to this emergency, health care professionals have been dispatched to Attawapiskat. This is the kind of response that ensues, but it reflects no permanent solution.

Hundreds of thousands of dollar have been released to help administer mental health services to the two thousand residents of the Attawapiskat fly-in community. How effective that financial assistance can be is questionable, when it is from among community members themselves who are themselves suffering grievous health issues, both physical and mental, along with the anguish of losing family members, is questionable. Yet how to convince health professionals to sacrifice their own lifestyles and professional development, by dedicating themselves to working in the area?

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet