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Where Is The Money Going On First Nations Reserves?


Attawapiskat-chief-Theresa-Spence-speaksTheresa Spence, one of three chiefs of the Attawapiskat First Nation is on a hunger strike. She is demanding a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister and is using this action as a means to try and force that meeting. She is also demanding that the meeting be at least one to two weeks in length. She claims it is to draw attention to and to force changes to the Indian Act.

Simultaneously, a new aboriginal activist group called Idle No More has taken up the cause by falling back on the same tired old self-indulgent actions that have never worked for them in the past. Once again Canadians are being subjected to the usual demonstrations including blockades of roadways and protests in malls and other public facilities.

I have a considerable amount of sympathy for the plight of aboriginal people living on many reserves in Canada today. There arephoto_2243852_resize_article deplorable levels of poverty, high unemployment, degrading living conditions, poor water sanitation, inadequate educational facilities and higher than the national average substance abuse.

While I recognize that the Indian Act is an anachronistic piece of legislation that prevents First Nations from fully realizing their potential, it is only part of the problem and the fact that it is still in effect is as much the fault of the First Nations’ leadership as it is the federal government. While there are definitely things in the act that are paternalistic, there are also benefits that the leadership is reluctant to toss away any time soon.

What are those benefits?

–  Status Indians pay no tax on any income earned on a reserve and pay no sales or consumption taxes on any products or services purchased on a reserve or which they have delivered to a reserve. A status Indian living on a reserve, for example, can purchase a new vehicle tax-free if it is delivered to them on their reserve which virtually every car dealership in the country is only too happy to do. On a $30,000 vehicle, this amounts to an approximate $4,500 saving.

–  All aboriginal peoples are entitled to the same health care services available to other Canadians within the same province plus reserves receive additional health care funding including free prescription medication that is not available to but which is paid for by other Canadians.

– Aboriginal people living in Canada enjoy the same fundamental benefits as all Canadian citizens, including the Child Tax Benefit, Old Age Security, and Employment Insurance despite the fact that most do not pay into these programs in the form of income or other taxes.

–  Aboriginal peoples are not bound by the same hunting and fishing regulations imposed on other Canadians and may hunt and fish out of season.

– Additional assistance is provided for post-secondary education including tuition, books and living expense subsidies and grants.

–  Status Indians may move back and forth across the Canadian border without a passport or customs check.

Overall, there are approximately 1.17 million aboriginal people living in Canada or approximately 3% of the total population of the country. The annual federal budget for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the federal department responsible for aboriginal issues, is $7.4 billion. In other words, over and above the cost of the income and sales tax exemption; the normal Canadian services provided to aboriginal peoples like health care and the child tax benefit – Canada spends an additional $6,300 per year for every aboriginal man, woman and child in the country. (By comparison, Quebec which has a population of 8 million receives $18 billion in transfer payments or approximately $2,200 per capita)


Attawapiskat (photo: Ottawa Citizen)

Considering the amount of poverty still on too many reserves, where is the money going?

The Assembly of First Nations tries to make the case that Canadians receive more financial benefit from the federal government than aboriginal peoples but they fail on two levels.

First, Canadians pay for their healthcare and other benefits through the taxes they pay. Status Indians pay no taxes but receive those same benefits for free. Second, the AFN does not include those benefits when calculating how much contribution is made by Canadians to First Nations. They only include them when calculating what other Canadians receive.

There are lots of financial reports to wade through if you have the time. Governments love financial reports especially because the more there are the more difficult it is to figure out what is going on. First Nations band leaders are required to provide some 160 odd reports annually but despite all of that, there never seems to be a clear understanding of where the money goes.

And that, my friends brings us all the way back to Chief Spence and her hunger strike.

A year ago, Canadians were outraged by the exposure of the impoverished living conditions in Attawapiskat, Chief Spence’s reserve. The level of poverty was horrific and the government was harshly condemned for allowing such a travesty to occur in Canada.

But was it only the government’s fault?

Over the past five years, Attawapiskat has received almost $100 million in direct funding from the federal government, an additional few million from the provincial government and the Aboriginal Casino Gaming Fund and $325 million in contracts from DeBeers, the diamond mining company that is operating a mine on the reserve’s land.

This totals pretty close to a half a billion dollars flowing into that community. Where did it go?

There are approximately 1500 people living in Attawapiskat and the amount of money that has been committed to the community28001_478616512180538_750174206_n totals approximately $50,000 for every man, woman and child; almost all of which is tax exempt. More than 20%, of the community, have good paying jobs with DeBeers and yet the level of poverty was staggering.

According to the band’s own records, the annual operating budget is $31 million which seems fairly significant for such a small community but which still doesn’t come close to chewing up all the money that was poured into it.

Where did the money go?

Decisions on how the money was spent and distributed were made by the band’s leadership. They set the priorities and they spent the money. Some of the money that was earmarked by the government for education was diverted by the band council for a new hockey arena and an $80,000 Zamboni ice cleaning machine, as an example,  but that doesn’t come close to explaining how such a small community could receive so much economic input and have so little to show for it.

Where did the money go?

When the government attempted to send in auditors to examine the books, Chief Spence refused to allow them access to the financial records. Considering the desperate straits this tiny remote community was facing and Chief Spence’s demands for more money and housing immediately, you would have thought she would have been only too happy to show that there had been no mismanagement or corruption related to all of the previous funding received. You would have been wrong. Chief Spence wasn’t having any outsiders take a look at the books although her refusal to provide financial transparency didn’t stop her from demanding more financial support.

Now that the government has passed legislation that requires more transparency by band councils, Chief Spence is on a hunger strike. I’m certain it is merely coincidental.

The simple reality is that while there are some First Nations communities, particularly on the west coast, that are doing exceptionally well; there are too many that are not. Considering that all First Nations receive the same per capita funding and other federal benefits and transfers, the only real difference between one band and another is the quality and integrity of its leadership.

Those First Nations communities that are achieving success have solid leadership that has found ways to incorporate modern governance and business practices within the traditions and culture of their people. Those that are not successful have too often relied on blaming others for their circumstance. It is long past time for many within the First Nations to start realizing that if they are victims, they are as much victims of poor leadership as anything else.

The federal government in partnership with the government of Saskatchewan funded an aboriginal university in that province which eventually had its funding removed as a result of mismanagement and corrupt business practices by the aboriginal leadership responsible for administrating the university.


Former Manitoba Chief Terry Nelson traveled to Iran to lay out a human rights case against Canada

Ex-chief Terry Nelson from Manitoba recently took a jaunt over to Iran where he appeared on Iranian television calling First Nations reserves in Canada, concentration camps. He  laid out his case about how oppressed aboriginal peoples are in Canada to one of the most oppressive regimes in the world – a regime that routinely hangs people for their sexual orientation, for substance abuse and which stones women for allowing themselves to be raped. One doesn’t know whether to get angry or to simply laugh at the utter naiveté and stupidity of it.

There are countless examples although many progressives prefer to wallow in guilt rather than address the real issues or ask the hard questions like “where does all that money go?”. They would rather grandstand like Justin Trudeau did recently when he, along with the usual phalanx of photographers met with Chief Spence to discuss her grievances.


Chief Theresa Spence and Canada’s Peter Pan, Justin Trudeau meet for the usual photo op

Monies that should go to provide better housing, education and water treatment are diverted for other things at the discretion of the leadership and often at the expense of the people living on the reserve but the politically correct don’t want to discuss that.

It has become a culture of dependence based on a culture of victimization that is used by too many aboriginal leaders as a diversion from their own failure to meet the needs of their people through better governance and management of their resources.

It is true that the Indian Act needs to be eliminated and nobody would be happier to see it go than the Federal Government. The fact that it still exists is a testament to the fact that First Nations want it both ways. They want the rights and benefits provided under the act without any of the responsibilities that would come without the act in place.

Too many have the same adolescent concept of being sovereign nations as nationalists do in Quebec. They want to be masters in their own house but have Canadians foot the bill for it. That isn’t sovereignty, that’s petulance and merely the illusion of independence.

It’s long past time for First Nations, especially their leadership, to stop living in the past and continuously rehashing historic grievances and treaty violations. We’ve heard them all before, addressed, paid for and even apologized for many before and it’s time to move on.

This is the 21st Century. We are no longer hunters and gatherers; we live in a different world. First Nations people have no special claim to being attached to the land. All of us, every man, woman and child is descended from tribes of indigenous peoples somewhere in the world. The difference is that we’ve evolved and moved on. We have developed modern societies, for better or for worse, with modern economies, modern technologies and whatever benefits or problems flow from that.

Some of my ancestors, like those of many others were sometimes killed by the ancestors of those we now call First Nations. I’m over it, let’s move on.

caledonia bridge

Native protesters destroy bridge at Caledonia

In other words, we live in the present not the past and it’s time for First Nations to stop trotting out drums they rarely use in their normal lives and waving eagle feathers in our faces every time they have a grievance. It is long past time to stop whining about a romanticized version of the past as justification for illegal blockades and even violence like we’ve seen at extended demonstrations at Oka, Caledonia and too many other places in the past.

There can be no resolution of the problems facing First Nations peoples including the quality of life on First Nation reserves until both First Nations and the government lay down new directions, new accountabilities and new partnerships. It isn’t only up to the government to address its mistakes. It is long past time for First Nations and their leadership to start doing the same thing in a meaningful way and hunger strikes and blockades ain’t going to get ‘er done.

That just continues to promote the culture of victimization that itself is the primary cause of victimization of First Nations peoples today. It’s time to account for the money that has been spent. Time to disclose the salaries of First Nations’ leaders and definitely time to put the past behind us, resolve the real issues facing both First Nations and the country in general.

Canadians are tired of being the whipping boys and girls for every group with a grievance or a finely-honed sense of entitlement and that, my friends, includes too many of our friends in the First Nations these days. It is long past time for First Nations’ leadership to take some of the responsibility and ownership for many of the problems being faced by people in their communities rather than only blaming Canadians for them.


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  • Jo-Anne McEwan

    Great article! It’s almost impossible to find information regarding native money spending and transfer payment info. Although no specific numbers are given your article gives a lot to think about. I hold the same perspective as you do regarding the situation. Unfortunately we walk on eggshells trying not to offend by stating our opinion and in doing so the situation becomes worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.johnston.92 Philip Johnston

    Excellent article – I’m researching the living conditions of Canada’s reservations and finding mostly leftist exposés that point the finger at the government. At this point, I feel First Nations people have been done a great disservice by being essentially “infantilized” – being placated with more and more tax dollars when this has long been proven to be a problem that does not improve by throwing more resources at it. It’s just a total mess, and is training a beautiful and culturally rich segment of Canada’s population to play the “victim card” bigger and bolder to their own detriment.
    This is entirely anecdotal, but I’d like to share it:
    I work in video production and helped produce a video for a dentistry center on a reservation in BC. The video was meant to help encourage more diligent tooth care and address an epidemic of tooth decay. A number of kids were filmed by our cameraman and reviewing the footage was heartbreaking. Most children under 10 appeared to have numerous cavities, with more than half one child’s teeth already having been replaced with falsies. Just heart-wrenching.

    • MaggiesBear

      You cannot help people by condemning them to dependency. That’s nothing more than condemning them to poverty. It isn’t just happening on reserves, we do the same thing in our cities. We hand out pitiful amounts of social assistance that guarantee a cycle of poverty rather than investing in helping people get the skills and opportunities they need to build successful lives.


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  • Ann

    Everyone knows the billions allocated to Aboriginal Affairs but I have been unable to find out the other costs in other federal departments such as:

    Health Canada – this department pays for all the nursing stations which include the infrastructure and maintenance, staffing, programs, prescriptions, medical transportation (frequently required) which in many cases include family members, and other related costs.

    Public Safety – again, costs of building/maintaining police stations, prisoner transportation, staffing, etc.

    What of other departments which they can apply to and are frequently successful in applications for building other infrastructure such as business centres, broadband availability, etc. Industry Canada and programs they are responsible for work with many FN communities and organizations.

    HRSDC – again, lots of funding for education and training which usually includes full living expenses and frequently the whole family can be supported while the student themselves are in a program.

    How and where does a person find the associated costs I noted above? What is the REAL federal cost for each FN resident should all these be added together?

    Note: all Canadians alike collectively enjoy benefits from many federal departments that make this a better place to live. Most of the funding/programs I identify above are exclusively FN and not available to other Canadians therefore I believe that this money should be properly accounted for in spending on FN and added in the total cost.

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  • Cindy

    I appreciate the dialogue and I’d like to add with some thoughts that emerged as I read. It would seem that the financial credibility or not of the constructed Bands and councils in this country is tempted to be positioned at the centre of what is just and fair future action. If this, then that. It seems far to simple and convenient to place the disrespect of currency at the centre and create another a mere distraction to the deeply embedded inequalities within a long-standing system that continues to be perpetuated. How does this play itself out at a micro/macro level in our daily constructs. Although key to imagine and dream of a new future, the Indigenous philosophy (rooted in many ancient cultures) reminds us that the past and future exist in the historical now. It is a form of a trinity that is too deeply embedded in the cycle of life and natural law. How do we as a community and society created a third space beyond colonial dichotomies? Curious.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I think for many in both First Nations communities and the rest of Canada, the issue is more simple. How can so much money and effort result in so much poverty? Canadians don’t want aboriginal peoples to be subjected to the conditions to which too many are subjected and we’ve put our money where our mouth is. What bothers many, myself included, is that when you strip away all the fancy talk on both sides, all the political posturing you are still left with one simple premise. A lot of money is being spent but the people for whom it is intended are not benefiting from it. I believe both the people living on reserves and in the rest of Canada not only deserve to know why but have a responsibility to find out why that is so. Otherwise, the poverty will continue.

  • Magoo .5 feathers

    I am Aboriginal, many of us DO NOT support what this Idle No more movement is doing.
    Chief Spence, is sending out a powerful message to youth, that If you do not get your way, have a tantrum, and attempt to kill your self.
    I believe she has children of her own… most normal parents would put political issues aside and ensure that their children have a parent, and a successful future… but I guess BLAMING OTHERS is more important, I sure hope that this parenting issue is being looked into… Aboriginals in Canada should be looking at Aboriginal children in care… oh that’s right, you cant make money off of kids in Canada.

    smoke and mirrors I say… lets focus on how our tax dollars have been mismanaged, and I agree, don’t invest in oil companies, and then expect oil companies to pay for your eco/ bio studies… if you want to be a TRUE land steward.. stop using gas and oil… take a pony to where you need to go…. go live off the land full time… not your local food store or food banks…
    this is NOT about Land Stewardship, or environmental protection.. this is about being screwed out of making money off of industries development, and hold them hostage until they pay the FIRST NATIONS to SIGN off with the N.E.B or the ERCB…
    thats my opinion. Im always aware that bill c-45 is no surprise… that’s what happens when your just idle!

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      It occurs to me that the aboriginal community is no different than any other, including my own. Once the political leadership, however you define it, gets involved you have problems. Once the activists take control of the agenda, people stop looking for real solutions because they hide the real problems behind slogans and accusations. You only have to look at places like Quebec to see that in action.

      The bottom line for me is that I believe aboriginal people should have a right to an opportunity to economic prosperity however they define it. I do not believe that the Indian Act or either past government actions or the bulk of the aboriginal leadership have helped achieve that. I believe they are the root cause of the problem.

  • Tehahenteh (Frank Miller)

    Just had a need to let you know that what your rave is about probably represents the rave of the average canadian without actually knowing history and agreements made in yesteryear. You must understand that we as Onkwehonwe have a memory and records of agreements made in the past, government has no such memory even if they have the paper trail.
    First of all, you need to look at this bill C-45 and it’s far reaching implications, not just for us but for all canadians.
    Can you not see that it is not in the interest of survival for all people living in this country. It is totally a sellout for profit, and not for the citizens who reside here, it is giving developers a free hand to rape the northern hemisphere without regard to sustainability.
    There is a reason we Onkwehonwe pay less taxes, not no tax as you imply. Trust funds set in place with the ‘crown’ were set by our ancestors, even though they had little idea or use for the fund at the time. They believed then that it would be set for the future of our people, they also believed that the ‘crown’ would honour their agreement. By convenience,
    the crown placed the funds under their own system control, and as to date have never revealed how much has accumulated, nor have they ever accounted for how the funds have been dis-pursed. So where is the money going?
    So, in short, this means that the ‘crown’ is suposed to still setting aside funds for the taking of natural resources from this continent and using that for the perpetual well being of our people, and this is what our ancestors agreed upon.
    Now the canadian public believes it comes from their tax dollars, and if you believe this this, then you have to understand what propaganda is based upon.
    The following has been taken from some of our postings as Onkwehonwe, so let the truth be known to all of your readers. Now you can draw your own conclusion as to why we oppose this bill. Its not just us, it’s all of you Canadians too. You all call it Citizenship, why, because you are people of the ship, not land, as we are. The waters are already in dire situation, lets leave the land alone, it our future, and think about what we all will do together to save the waters and air.

    A Short History Primer on Six Nations.

    Charter Rights
    Joined: Mar 9 2009
    September 22, 2011 – 11:35pm
    I’ll try to be brief.

    Since the beginning of contact Six Nations (Originally 5 Nations) wedged themselves between the British, French and other First Nations to arise as brokers and negotiators. They fostered and negotiated a number of pre Royal Proclamation 1763 treaties which set the stage for the future of British / Six Nations relationships.

    1656 Six Nations enters into the One Spoon One Bowl treaty with the Mississauga after the remnants of the last Wendat fled southern Ontario. The Wendat, Petun and Tiontiata Nations had been decimated by small pox and other diseases introduced into their communities by French missionaries and traders. Of those that survived the majority fled to Quebec City with the French while the balance of the survivors fled to Michigan…known as the Beaver Hunting Grounds.

    1684 Howard Treaty – Provided Six Nations clear passage through all territory into Canada for trade and guarantee the British would keep the Algonquin out of New England. (Establish the term “sovereign protection”

    In 1701 Six Nations brokered the surrender of about 800 square miles of land consisting of lands in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Six Nations complained that since they took over the former Wendat territories in Southern Ontario, hunting and trapping in the Beaver hunting grounds became nearly impossible being harassed by the Wendat any time the went to Michigan to hunt. So they negotiated with other nations under their confederacy umbrella and decided to give up Michigan to the British in return for protection of their Ontario lands and the British promises to guard their trading routes into New England.

    Despite common myth no part of Ontario or Quebec was sold to the British under Nafan. Keep this in mind as we move upward in history…

    In 1710 the British and Six Nations formalized the Silver Covenant Chain Treaties which set out to protect and advance each others’ interest in peaceful and co-operative way.

    By mid 18th century the western US frontier was expanding at a rapid pace. In 1722 the British had made a number of guarantees that they would not allow expansion of their colonies west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A number of other treaties provide promise that later show up in the text of the Royal Proclamation 1763.

    In 1754 the British approached Six Nations to have them surrender more land west of the Allegany River, breaking a promise not to expand their colonies into Six Nations territory. A number of First Nations that Six Nations was representing were incensed that the British would go back on their word – something regarded in Haudenosaunee culture as sacred. Reluctantly however, In the Treaty of Loggstown 1764, Six Nations was able to convince the other Nations to surrender one more tract of land on the east side of the Ohio River with promises that no more land would be sought. Six Nations presented an ultimatum to the British that if expansion were to occur on the frontier, it would be met with war taken out aginst the settlers and they would burn their villages.

    In 1757 the King commissioned the Mitchell Map identifying North America as it stood. What is significant is that the Map clearly identifies what is southern Ontario south of the Ottawa River as Six Nations territory.

    In 1763 the King issues his Royal Proclamation outlining the boundaries of His 4 Colonies, and prescribing that Indian Land was off limits to settlement or purchase. Again despite popular myth, the Proclamation did not touch on Canada considering that the British believed it was a wasteland inhabited by various natives friendly and unfriendly. Their only interest in Canada was limited to Quebec surrendered by France in the Treaty of Paris of that same year. The Royal Proclamation 1763 defines the legal relationship we have with Six Nations, having not only full regard for their land and possession, but their laws and customs.

    At the end of the American Revolution Six Nations were under pressure in New York as having being accused of siding with the British. However the official position of Six Nations Confederacy was that they were neutral. Each nation in the Confederacy were free to side with any party and some help the Americans while others helped advance the British. In 1774 the British issued the Quebec Act in an attempt to maintain control over the Ohio frontier and that quickly escallated into war. However, in the 1776 Jeffries Map it clearly shows that the British regarded Southern Ontario as Six Nations territory.
    At the end of the Revolution Six Nations petitioned the British to set certain tracts in Ontario for their exclusive use, matching the previous deals they had in Ohio and New York. In 1783 the British offer them a tract of land some 300 miles wide and 300 miles northward centering on the Bay of Quinte Region in Southern Ontario. A group of Mohawks following Joseph Brant and John Deseronto visited the area and found the land full of barren rock and infertile soils and declared in unacceptable for habitation. Instead Joseph Brant insisted that their lands along the Grand River be protected against settlement and Governor Haldimand reluctantly agreed.

    Under the One Spoon Two Bowls Treaty with the Mississauga. a number of Mississauga had set up camp in the region and Brant thought it only fair for the British to offer them some compensation for their displacement. A meeting at Burington between Haldimand, Brant and a number of Chiefs and the Mississauga broked compensation and the Mississauga returned back to the North Shore of Superior.
    In 1784 Joseph Brant took possession of the Haldimand Tract – six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to ist source comprising some 980,000 acres. However, dissention between the traditional people and non-traditional people took its toll and John Deseronto led a number of Mohawks back to the Quinte Region claiming over 100,000 acres for their enjoyment. Later in 1793 John Graves Simcoe attempted to issue his Simcoe Patent reducing the territory to 40,000 acres.

    What is important to note is that under the Royal Proclamation 1763 patents could no longer be issued for land unilaterally and that any surrender required not only the full and free consent of the Chiefs of any nation but also of the people and any surrender was required to comply fully with the laws and customs of the nation. The Supreme Court of Canada went on to identify 10 tests in the Chippewas of Sarnia v. Canada that must be present in any surrender, failing which invalidates the surrender. The Simcoe Patent violates these tests.

    Throughout history since then, there have been a number of activities between the government of the day and Six Nations and Mohawks Councils from the Grand River and Quinte. There were also a number of other recognized Mohawk territories that were never in dispute. However, the government of the day influenced and controlled by a group known as the Family Compact set out to ignore the Proclamations and laws, and take land in any way they could from First Nations. Both Six Nations of the Grand and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte territory was seriously reduced – illegally – during this period. Many of the present day lands claims stem from this period.

    What isn’t wide knowledge is that during the pre-proclamation treaty periods Six Nations was receiving payments and land surrenders payments from the British who convinced them to secure the funds with the British to be held in trust in perpetuity. According to Six Nations accountants this resulted in a fund that is worth over $1trillion today, given the lease payments, rentals and compounded interest promised to Six Nations by the Crown. The annual interest today equals more than $20 billion – enough not only to pay the entire AAND budget and all First Nation transfers. In the scheme of things despite earning $20 billion a year the annual funding of Six Nations and Tyendinaga falls short of $3500 per person which is more 50% of the per capita funding of the average small town in Ontario. Requests to access the trust and interest has been denied by the government and despite the Supreme Court ruling that First Nations are entitled to manage their own trust accounts, the government has yet to comply.
    The other twist is that according to the rules of the Royal Proclamation 1763 confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, Six Nations / Mohawks still have a sovereign claim over all southern Ontario. No part has ever been surrendered and Six Nations legally must be consulted over any development or use. The estimated cost of settling this claim would be estimated to be between $75 and $100 trillion – an impossible sum – calculated according to the manner set out by the Supreme Court of Canada (using the lower of the fair market value at the time the land was illegally occupied, with compounded interest set out year to year by an Order in Council, plus a one time loss of use payment multiplied by the number of years they were displaced OR by using fair market value at the time of settlement). In an offer of settlement Six Nations proposed that the Government of Canada and Six Nations enter into a perpetual care agreement which would see Canada footing the bill for Six Nations forever. That has been rejected so far by Canada.

    Small land claims like at Caledonia and Deseronto are just a small fraction of the number of othe more complex claims. Canada not only owes Six Nations /Mohawks a legal duty but a financial one as well, being responsible through their trust for the infrastructure care and services required by Six Nations people. These are not taxpayer funds but trust interest payable by Canada as trustee of that account. The legal duty has been ignored by Canada with much of the same kinds of thinking from the Family Compact movement now showing up in the ranks of the Conservative government.

    In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People predicted that is Canada did not take far and honourable action to satisfy outstanding First Nations claims, frustration and youthful unrest would cause an escalation of violence as First Nations blockaded lands and prevented development. While Oka and Ipperwash went a long way to demonstrate that prophesy, in 20 years the government is still no further ahead than when the RCAP was published. Largely that report has been ignored. However, it seems that there will be continued protest and reclamation of disputed lands, all of which is increasingly supported by the courts in our future. The best thing for Canada is to deal openly and honestly with our past and make sure that before we criticize the Mohawks, or people of any First Nation, we have clean hands and walked a mile in their moccasins.
    In June 2010 the Queen of Canada presented the Chiefs of Six Nations and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte each with 8 silver hand bells in commemoration of the Silver Covenant Chain Treaty – 300 years of Peace and Friendship. This is an indication at the highest level that the Crown still considers Six Nations / Mohawks as allies (and not subjects) of the Crown. The government better catch on…..

    Northern Shoveler
    Joined: Feb 17 2011
    September 23, 2011 – 10:21am #2
    Charter Rights wrote:
    In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People predicted that is Canada did not take far and honourable action to satisfy outstanding First Nations claims, frustration and youthful unrest would cause an escalation of violence as First Nations blockaded lands and prevented development. While Oka and Ipperwash went a long way to demonstrate that prophesy, in 20 years the government is still no further ahead than when the RCAP was published. Largely that report has been ignored. However, it seems that there will be continued protest and reclamation of disputed lands, all of which is increasingly supported by the courts in our future. The best thing for Canada is to deal openly and honestly with our past and make sure that before we criticize the Mohawks, or people of any First Nation, we have clean hands and walked a mile in their moccasins.
    Thx for the excellent history precis. I have read the RCAP and believe that a lot of intelligent people worked on the solutions that it proposes. It needs to be implemented now.
    In many ways I fear the coming storm as FN’s in the west, many with unceded territories, have rejected the idea of pipelines to take the filthy bitumen to market. If Canada had any respect for FN’s rights under our constitution those projects would be shelved already. Harper appears to be heading down the road that will lead to American enforcement agencies attacking FN’s for defending their “sui generis” rights. Rights that are guaranteed under the Charter.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I don’t deny that there have been treaty violations and by both sides. My issue is not with the past, it is with the present. This ongoing back and forth is not accomplishing anything except continuing poverty in too many First Nation’s communities. It is not all the fault of government. They can take their share of responsibility but it is long past time for First Nations’ leaders to step up and take their share as well.

      I have a copy of the audited Trust Financial Statement for Attawapiskat and I find it interesting that for all the talk about protecting the land and natural resources, many of the investments are in chemical, oil and other related companies including the Oil Sands.

      There are too many illusions on both sides and it is time to put those illusions aside, time to stop talking about 200 year old grievances and start forging new agreements and directions that benefit everyone both First Nations and Canadians because what is happening now isn’t working and never has.

      I appreciate and welcome discussion of all points of view provided they are, like yours, respectful and thoughtful I would ask, however, that should you wish to leave a comment in the future that you make it shorter. If you wish to write something in more detail, contact me and I will consider putting it up as a post by a guest contributor.

      Thank you for your comments.

  • dmorris

    While there ARE 1,17 million persons who describe themselves as “Aboriginal”, only about half that number reside on Reserves,the rest left to go to where the jobs are.

    Another “perk” of Indian Rez living is that no status Indian has to have a PAL to own firearms,and no SI was required to register his long guns.

    PM Harper has taken the first step in ending the Indian fiasco,and the Indian politicians are furious,and scared. Chief Bill Erasmus said that if Chief Spence starves to death,Harper’s life may be in jeopardy,a thinly veiled threat of the type favored by third world dictators.

    If the FN books DO reveal massive theft and corruption, it’s the Chiefs that will have to worry,not PM Harper,as Reservation Indians are known for on-Rez violence when pissed off.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Nobody that operates within ethics and integrity has anything to fear from transparency.

  • Kim

    I just wanted to clarify that although you have raised some good points, Idle No More is a Canadian movement. Bill C45 affects all Canadians and drastically allows the government to sell of resources and land to foreign investors who do not have to follow traditional or logical regulations when mining or drilling. It scares me as someone who would like to have a place for my children to run free and have the same privileges that I had with clean water, air and green as far as the eye could see. This hungers strike and movement is so much bigger than just Theresa Spence, unfortunately, any coverage the movement gets is directed towards her because the government knows it will piss people off and allow for the ‘rants’ :) I have provided a link of the NDP member Peggy Nash discussing some things that affect the ‘average’ Canadian as well…..

    So, ultimately, this is being painted as an Aboriginal movement….however, I march with them because I remember growing up and being proud to be Canadian…I cannot say I feel too proud these days :)

    take care

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I appreciate and even share some of your concerns. I have grandchildren that I would like to leave a better country to but I find this whole approach to be one more waste of time and energy much like the Occupy Movement which ultimately accomplished nothing. Typically, these movements get overrun by radicals and that’s when the violence starts. Issues get boiled down to little more than slogans and nothing is ever really resolved.

      As an example, I have a copy of the Attawapiskat Investment Trust. It might interest you to know that while Chief Spence and her colleages in the AFN lay claim to the same concerns you raise, they have invested in companies like Exxon, Enbridge and even the Oil Sands.

      I have little patience with either wasted efforts or hypocrisy but I appreciate that you read the post and took the time to leave a comment. Thank you.

  • lyn

    Very well said. There are those to ‘blame’ & not all are blameless. Give a gander to these 2011 financial statements from Chief Spence’s reserve. Aside from the above average rate of return on investments, take a moment to quietly consider the Trust’s actual holdings: Haliburton, Exxon & ‘aboriginal’ exterminating Freeport-McMahon to name a few. This public information is eye-opening. We can’t ‘defend’ Mother Earth and invest in those who rape her at the same time. Think about the REAL future of the planet, our sustainer & caretaker. We do have greater responsibilities to the next generations.

    Here’s the report:
    ~ http://www.attawapiskat.org/wp-content/uploads/2011-Financial-Statements-Attawapiskat-Trust.pdf

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Very interesting indeed. Thank you for providing the report. I need to do a little additional research to see where this leads.