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Michal Rozworski: Podcast: Canada’s spring of occupations

  Welcome back to the first podcast episode after a two-month hiatus! This week, three guests talk about two significant occupations of public space that have happened in Canada in the interim: the Black Lives Matter occupation of police headquarters plaza in Toronto and the occupations of Indigenous and Northern Affairs offices across the country. In this […] . . . → Read More: Michal Rozworski: Podcast: Canada’s spring of occupations

A Different Point of View....: The tale of two communities in crisis: Fort McMurray and Attawapiskat

Crisis situations are shaking two Canadian communities to their very core – the terrifying wildfires that destroyed Fort McMurray, and the epidemic of attempted youth suicides on the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve.The question arises: Why are bil… . . . → Read More: A Different Point of View….: The tale of two communities in crisis: Fort McMurray and Attawapiskat

A Different Point of View....: The tale of two communities in crisis: Fort McMurray and Attawapiskat

Crisis situations are shaking two Canadian communities to their very core – the terrifying wildfires that destroyed Fort McMurray, and the epidemic of attempted youth suicides on the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve.

The question arises: Why are billions of dollars being pumped in to deal with one crisis while the other is all but being ignored.

By the time Fort McMurray is rebuilt, it’s likely that governments will have spent $2-billion or more.   Donations from Canadians will reach into the millions. And a representative of one of the big insurance companies estimated they will be required to pay as much as $9-billion to restore homes and businesses.  

Justin Trudeau receives a gift of sweetgrass and a canoe
from  National Chief Perry Bellegarde after addressing
 the Assembly of First Nations. 

I have no quarrel with anything that is being done to help the people and community of Fort McMurray.  The destruction and emotional distress suffered by residents is taking a heavy toll. Like thousands of other folks, I have made a financial contribution.

What I do object to is that, in comparison, the federal and Ontario governments are doing practically nothing and spending a pittance to alleviate the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat, a poverty-stricken, isolated community of 2,000 located 720 km north of Sudbury.

The youth crisis reached epidemic proportions just days before the fire outbreak in Fort McMurray. Eleven Attawapiskat young people attempted suicide during the same night. Local hospital staff, unable to deal with the situation, became frantic.

Following an urgent appeal for help, the federal and Ontario government sent a handful of medical specialists to comfort the young people.


The support didn’t help much.

Last week, on the second day of the fires in Fort McMurray, Attawapiskat experienced nine suicide or overdoses attempts.

Chief Bruce Shisheesh of Attawapiskat urgently contacted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and asked for a second meeting.  He told Trudeau it was now “a matter of life and death” in his community.

“While the efforts of your ministers is appreciated to date, it falls short [of] finding  Attawapiskat has been under a state of emergency since early April, with chief and council saying it has been overwhelmed by ongoing suicide attempts.”

The Prime Minister’s Office replied that Prime Minister Trudeau could meet with native leaders in Ottawa when it was convenient to both parties.

Earlier, Trudeau charmed native leaders and reserve folks with vague promises and double-talk:

“I don’t want to pretend that any of us have the answers to the challenges facing indigenous peoples in Canada, but what I will tell you that as a country, we can build those answers.”

Clearly, compared to the human touch extended to the victims of Fort McMurray, governments are being callous in their responses to the Attawapiskat crisis.

Where is the empathy
in those kinds of promises?

A lack of money is not the problem. The federal government is sitting on about $4-billion to be used to improve lives, particularly education facilities, on reserves. http://communica.ca/summary-the-2016-federal-budget-and-aboriginal-programs/

What is hard to understand is why the federal government isn’t dipping into its stashed away billions to assist First Nations communities such as Attawapiskat.

If respect for human life is a factor, surely the greatest threat is at Attawapiskat. In Fort McMurray, luckily, only two people lost their lives, due to a vehicle accident. In Attawapiskat a 13-year-old girl committed suicide last October.  Since last fall, others have died and there have been more than 100 suicide attempts in the community.

Children – kids who should be growing up bright and enthusiastic – are trying to kill themselves.

The federal government could use one of those giant aircraft being used at Fort McMurray to airlift gifts to the depressed children into Attawapiskat. It would be great if they were given all kinds of things they’d love to have – from computers, to new bicycles, to dolls, etc.

Instead of loaning psychiatrists and medical support to the sad little hospital on the reserve, staff levels should be doubled or tripled until well after the suicide crisis is over.

Much of the housing on the reserve is uninhabitable and contributes to suicidal feelings and other problems.  The same military planes that were used to help Fort McMurray should be deployed to air-lift new pre-fabricated houses and community buildings to Attawapiskat.

I contend that the decades of poverty, the murder of more than1,000 women, the many youth suicides, and the general degradation of a race of people deserve equal attention to the aid and love being bestowed on Fort McMurray.

So, why is one crisis receiving massive support, while another, perhaps more serious in some ways, is getting little attention?

Governments and the public reacted so positively and so quickly to the Fort McMurray situation because the fire was so immediate and horrific. Now millions will be spent to allow the energy companies to get back to scraping up oil sands.

While I don’t have a lot of faith in Liberal governments, I am surprised that, given the strong stand Trudeau has taken concerning aboriginal issues, he hasn’t taken more action more quickly.

On the other hand, the problems on reserves such as Attawapiskat have been with us for generations. While there have been improvements in the attitudes of many Canadians toward indigenous people, many others still don’t think they should be helped.

If there were overwhelming pressure on the government to help Attawapiskat, it would be happening. Of course if a non-aboriginal community were threatened by dozens of children trying to commit suicide, government and public response would be overwhelming.

-30-
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Contact Nick Fillmore at fillmore0274@rogers.com

. . . → Read More: A Different Point of View….: The tale of two communities in crisis: Fort McMurray and Attawapiskat

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.- Scott Vrooman rightly makes the point that increased wealth at the top tends to splash outside a country’s borders rather than trickling down. And CBC News reports on how that process has been facilitated by KPM… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- The Ontario Association of Food Banks discusses the long-term damage done by childhood poverty and deprivation:When facing a very tight budget, food is often the budget line that gets cut in order to a… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Montreal Simon: The Emergency Debate and the Children of Attawapiskat

I watched the emergency debate in the Commons on the crisis in Attawapiskat, and I heard some fine speeches.Especially the one from Charlie Angus. No one can understand "how a country as rich as Canada can leave so many young children and young p… . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Emergency Debate and the Children of Attawapiskat

Montreal Simon: Why Canadians Need to Rush to the Rescue of Attawapiskat

Attawapiskat, the small First Nation's community on the edge of James Bay, is a place well known to many Canadians.And sadly for all the wrong reasons.Five years ago it had to declare a state of emergency to deal with a severe housing crisis.Now … . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Why Canadians Need to Rush to the Rescue of Attawapiskat

Politics, Re-Spun: No, BC Actually Mentored Saskatchewan’s Poor-Bashing

Despite being Metro News, Emily Jackson’s great piece yesterday [below] about how brutally cruel the Saskatchewan government is should make us mindful of a number of issues. Not the least of which is that the neoliberal Saskatchewan Party has been photocopying many of the worst of BC’s regressive and anti-social policies. That makes the BC … Continue reading No, BC Actually Mentored Saskatchewan’s Poor-Bashing

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: No, BC Actually Mentored Saskatchewan’s Poor-Bashing

Politics, Re-Spun: What I Am Thankful For

This weekend, I am thankful for folks in Seattle who know how to transform the imperialist Columbus Day into Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

May we all learn this for next year!

“We are all citizens in a democracy, we are all here to work with each other, and by making this Indigenous People’s Day, we are . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: What I Am Thankful For

Politics, Re-Spun: Honing In On Friday’s #WaveOfAction

We need to think about two things for this Friday’s Occupy Movement reboot in the Worldwide #WaveOfAction:

When thinking about pursuing social, political and economic equality, what is the list of things we need to change, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally? Who do we need to build coalitions with to listen to them, support them, . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Honing In On Friday’s #WaveOfAction

Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Lazy ARE Indigenous People, Anyway?

It’s a trick question.

And let’s not forget how many of us are told we are inherently lazy because we are native. Hard to shake that.

via Twitter / apihtawikosisan: And let’s not forget how many ….

And if you want to read one person’s analysis of destructive, racist stereotypes, try this on, from Frank . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Just How Lazy ARE Indigenous People, Anyway?

Politics, Re-Spun: Fried Squirrels

It’s a crisp, foggy November Saturday morning in the south side of the city. Seventeen people sit in the large open area at the back end of an organic fair trade coffee shop run by a workers’ co-op inspired by the Mondragon movement in Spain. Meet-ups like this are quite common in this shop.

The . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Fried Squirrels

Politics, Re-Spun: Are We Good Allies to First Nations?

This is what solidarity looks like; make sure it’s authentic!

Lots of us care about deepening relationships with and social/economic/political justice for first peoples. It’s hard to come in, though, sometimes as a person from an oppressor or settler class. But there is a good checklist to make sure we’re actually contributing effectively.

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Are We Good Allies to First Nations?

Politics, Re-Spun: Is Harper’s Canada a “Genocide”-Free Zone?

The CMHR: a “genocide”-free zone.

Genocide is a pretty serious word. It invokes the Holocaust, Pol Pot, Rwanda and some other high profile human eradication attempts.

But Canada, being Canada these days, is loathe to admit that it had any part in any kind of genocide. No. Not us. We’re so . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Is Harper’s Canada a “Genocide”-Free Zone?

Politics, Re-Spun: Why We Must #HonourTheApology to Residential School Survivors [#INM]

I don’t know why we still have to do this kind of thing, but here goes. The federal government “apologized” to survivors of residential schools 5 years ago. It is clearly quite empty, considering how much neglect, abuse, victimization and racism has spewed forth from Stephen Harper’s government since then.

So. We actually need to . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Why We Must #HonourTheApology to Residential School Survivors [#INM]

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research And Human Biomedical Experimentation In Aboriginal Communities And Residential Schools, 1942–1952

The full-text of the paper that everyone is talking about can be found here.  The researchers do not come off as being quite as reprehensible as they seem in media reports.  For example, there appears to have been some effort to use their research to refute common stereotypes:

It is not unlikely that many characteristics, . . . → Read More: BigCityLib Strikes Back: Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research And Human Biomedical Experimentation In Aboriginal Communities And Residential Schools, 1942–1952

Politics, Re-Spun: Canada Day +1, Our Quiet Genocide

A banner drop during last night’s Canada Day celebration in Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square. (Photo: IdleNoMore.ca)

Canadians are so nice. We have such a happy, positive self-concept. This makes it quite hard to address the quiet genocide of first peoples that our nation has conducted for centuries.

What is genocide? The UN’s Convention . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Canada Day +1, Our Quiet Genocide

The Canadian Progressive: Harper’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan Unexpectedly Resigns, Says He Lobbied A Tax Court Judge

by Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 15, 2013: Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigned from Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s cabinet Friday after admitting that he lobbied a tax court judge on behalf of an unnamed constituent. Duncan, the Conservative MP for Vancouver Island North, issued a statement in which he said he wrote . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Harper’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan Unexpectedly Resigns, Says He Lobbied A Tax Court Judge

350 or bust: Idle No More: A Response By People Who Feel Like Hostages In Their Own Country

If you’re looking for some more information on the IdleNoMore campaign, MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) gives a good summary in this video. He is discussing the NDP Opposition Day motion on dealing with First Nation economic development and treaty rights. The response from the CPC MP, Cheryl Gallant, who represents a more southerly Ontario . . . → Read More: 350 or bust: Idle No More: A Response By People Who Feel Like Hostages In Their Own Country

The Canadian Progressive: Chief Theresa Spence Ends 43-Day Hunger Strike With Declaration “Towards Fundamental Change”

by Guest Blogger | The Canadian Progressive, Jan 25, 2013 Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence signed the First Nations declaration that ended her 43-day hunger strike at Ottawa’s Victoria Island . The 13-point declaration, entitled “First Nations: Working Towards Fundamental Change”, was signed jointly with First Nations leaders and Canada’s federal opposition parties. As . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Chief Theresa Spence Ends 43-Day Hunger Strike With Declaration “Towards Fundamental Change”

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Erika Shaker rightly tears into the special brand of FAIPOF demanding that First Nations protesters focus solely on their own community leaders rather than recognizing broader and more systematic inequality: Much is being made of Chief Spence’s Escalade (although I’m unsure if she actually owns one or if . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Art Threat: The People of the Kattawapiskak River: watch for free until January 18

With Attawapiskat and its band chief, Theresa Spence, remaining in the headlines, the NFB has made Alanis Obamsawin’s new documentary on life in the First Nation community available for free.

The People of the Kattawapiskak River can be streamed online at NFB.ca until Friday, January 18. Or just click the play button above and . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The People of the Kattawapiskak River: watch for free until January 18

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

– Daniel Wilson takes a look at how far too many in the media went along with the Harper Cons’ hatchet job against First Nations: (C)ompare the generalized outrage last week to the shrug elicited by the non-indigenous mayors around the country who have resigned after corruption allegations, are . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

The Canadian Progressive: Chief Spence decries Harper’s “paternalistic relationship” with Aboriginals

For Immediate Release: January 11, 2013, Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples: Chief Theresa Spence is standing firm on her request that both Prime Minster and Governor General of Canada need to be present and participate at the meeting with First Nation leaders. This statement comes on the heels of the Governor General . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Chief Spence decries Harper’s “paternalistic relationship” with Aboriginals

Politics, Re-Spun: Attawapiskat Audit is Merely a Distraction

Green Party leader Elizabeth May published a well-thought out and clear article on Wednesday, breaking down the reasons why the ongoing media banter about Attiwapiskat fund mismanagement and Chief Theresa Spence are merely distractions from an ongoing legacy of government failure to protect indigenous people and the environment. Twitter and Facebook have become virtual battlegrounds . . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Attawapiskat Audit is Merely a Distraction