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Idle No More – Part Three: Protests & A Hunger Strike By Chief Theresa Spence

This is the final installment of a three-part series on the misconceptions that sparked the Idle No More Movement. The series is part of five articles on aboriginal leadership and financial accountability that have been published over the past week.

The first two articles were written by Maggie’s Bear while the first two of this series were written by Peggy Tupper.

This final installment is co-authored by both and is both an explanation of the reasons for the implementation of the governments Financial Transparency Act (Bill C27) and a summary of the root causes behind both Idle No More and the issues being faced on many reserves today.

Idle No More – Part Three: Protests & A Hunger Strike By Chief Theresa Spence

by Maggie’s Bear & Peggy Tupper

On December 11 last year, Attawapiskat band Chief Theresa Spence arrived in Ottawa where she set herself up on Victoria Island and announced that she was going on a hunger strike until the Prime Minister of Canada met with her to address aboriginal concerns and treaty violations.

On December 18, she gave an interview to the CBC’s Chris Rand during which she indicated that she would continue her hunger strike until all levels of government met with all aboriginal leaders. This was to include the Prime Minister of Canada, The Governor General of Canada and all of the provincial premiers along with all of the First Nations’ chiefs.

While she claimed in that interview that her hunger strike was in response to living conditions on an unnamed reserve to which she referred, it is interesting to note that she did not once refer to being prompted by the living conditions on her own reserve which came into question a year earlier.

It is also interesting to note that at no time did Chief Spence give the appearance of considering any kind of action earlier in the year until after the government passed Bill C-27 on December 2; an act requiring full financial disclosure of band operations and in particular transparency for all remuneration paid to band leaders.

For those who have not followed the story of the unbelievable living conditions in Attawapiskat, the reserve first made headlines a year ago with photos and videos of people living in one room shacks, with no running water, toilets or other modern facilities.

Stories appeared daily about the abject poverty, sewage backups and overflow that made many if not most of the homes uninhabitable because the basements were full of raw sewage.    Apparently the sewage issue had been a problem for several years but the band council had never dealt with it.  Ultimately, many of the homes were abandoned and people moved into dormitory conditions, one room per family with communal bathrooms.

Families that did not want to stay in the dormitory built a shack and then dumped their sewage in the ditch in front of it.

There were stories about the lack of a school.  There had been a school but a diesel spill made the school unusable so it was torn down.  Monies that were part of the education budget were diverted to purchase a new Zamboni for the new hockey arena. The children now go to school in portables.

Children have skin rashes from the water because the band supplied water must be very heavily chlorinated to kill the bacteria from sewage.

The stories about Attawapiskat emerged after Chief Theresa Spence declared a state of emergency in her community.  Very quickly, the eyes of the world were on this desolate community of some 1500 people 500 kms north of Timmins.

For a good part of the year, the only way in or out of the reserve is by air which is expensive and which drives up the cost of everything from food to clothing. There is what is called an ice road but it is only available in the winter months, when the muskeg and James Bay freeze and trucks can traverse the distance and make deliveries to this isolated community.

Last winter, there was public outrage that people in Canada were living in such appalling conditions.  The outrage was initially directed towards the federal government until it was disclosed that the band had received more than $90 million from the federal government along with millions more from the provincial government, DeBeers and the Aboriginal Casino fund. It did not take long for that public outrage to change as people started asking questions about the financial management on the reserve.

The Canadian public is asking even more questions now that it has become common knowledge that over $6 billion is paid annually to First Nation communities in Canada.

Last winter, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs authorized a third party manager to oversee the finances of the band.  In conjunction with this, Minister Duncan arranged for modular homes to be fast-tracked and delivered to the community using the ice road.

While she accepted the emergency housing, Chief Spence refused to allow the professional manager to enter the reserve. She did, however, continue to welcome a lineup of journalists, a collection of opposition MPs and others for photo ops and who she felt would be sympathetic to her version of what was happening.

Chief Spence claimed that all the money went to “programs” and that audited financial documents are posted online.  She is correct.  The financial statements are posted online but she is incorrect in her claim that all the money goes to programs. In fact, only just over a third of the operating budget goes to programs.

The band has an annual operating budget of $34 million of which just over $12 million goes to programs and more than $11 million to salaries for the chief and other band leaders. There are 3 chiefs on the payroll, 19 councilors, 2 administrators, 5 unelected officials and 12 members of the Education Board.

This is not all of the money that is paid to various officials on the reserve. There are 8 band corporations all with their own budgets that other budgets that fund salaries and remuneration including $27,000 paid to one band member for the provision of day-care services over a three month period.

Despite the appalling living conditions that Chief Spence articulated in her CBC interview, the band was unable to spend all of the revenue it took in and added an additional $3 million to its accumulated surplus which now stands at $60 million.

It also has an $8 million trust account which invests in everything from technology to the very resource-based companies including the oil sands and Enbridge, First Nations claim are destroying the environment.

Based on this and on complaints from residents of other bands across Canada, there seemed to be a need for a closer look at how bands are being managed and the money being spent.  To meet this need, Minister Duncan sponsored Bill C-27 requiring all First Nations to provide full and transparent financial disclosure to their people.

Bill C27 is a financial transparency act which requires band councils to be fully open and transparent in their financial management of band funds including all remuneration paid to band leaders. To insure that no remuneration could be hidden, the bill was very specific and included two key defined reporting requirements:

“expenses” are to include the costs of transportation, accommodation, meals, hospitality and incidental expenses.

and

“remuneration” is defined as any salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, fees, honoraria and dividends and any other monetary benefits — other than the reimbursement of expenses — and non-monetary benefits.

This means that all monies paid to the chief and councilors must be accounted for, and fully disclosed, rather than only that which is declared as salary. Needless to say, there were many in the aboriginal leadership who were not happy with this passing of this legislation.

This is particularly true because the bill also includes the authority to withhold funds to a band for breaches of the accounting transparency act until such time as the breaches are resolved.

It would seem that Chief Spence has some issues with Bill C-27 and that is the reason for her protest but perhaps she doth protest too much.

When she complains about treaties not being honoured, she is talking about the possible withholding of monies until compliance has been met regarding transparency.

And that brings us full circle to Idle No More.

The Idle No More movement, which started in Saskatchewan, was in its infancy in early December.  When it stated getting media attention, Chief Spence like so many others, piggybacked on it and as a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen reported,

“Activist opinion in Canada is actually cheering her on. We are all expected to be moved by Spence’s hunger strike, to be humbled, and to be ashamed of ourselves as Canadians. Out of empathy, you understand.”

Ashamed of what?

Canadians invest more than $6 billion a year into aboriginal communities and that does not include welfare payments, the cost of sales and income tax exemptions, post-secondary education subsidies, subsidized prescription medication or the same health care services available to other Canadians.

Gone are the very real and serious questions about Chief Spence’s management of her reserve and the role that played in the abject poverty in which her people live. She has become a media darling. Opposition MPs, some media (Chief Spence is highly selective in who she will and won’t speak with) and various activists have all made pilgrimage to Victoria Island to pay homage to a band chief who has used Idle No More and her hunger strike as a means of distracting from her own failed leadership.

She is not alone.

So much of the leadership of the First Nations laid claim to the Idle No More that the movement finally posted statements on its web site in which it has begun to distance itself from the chiefs.

Once again Canadians have railways blockaded, shopping malls being used for round dances, highways being blocked, politicians like Justin Trudeau tripping all over himself for a photo op and all of it is predicated on misinformation, vested self-interest and an attempt to distract from some of the real and serious root causes of high levels of teen suicide, substance abuse, failed band management and the fact that some live large while those they are supposed to represent live in poverty.

This is not true for all reserves. While all reserves are treated equally in terms of per capita funding, some are better managed by their leadership than others. There are many reserves on the west coast, in Ontario and other provinces that prosper thanks to a leadership that is more focused, organized and committed to the prosperity of its people than on blame and promoting a culture of victimization.

Much has been made in the media about Idle No More just as much was made of last year’s Occupy Movement. Back then, Occupy was everybody’s darling; a movement that was going to bring about a revolution based on “an idea that was too big to fail.”

Fail it did.

It was overrun by the same grandiose visions, over-the-top media hype, militant activists and cynical opportunists. It eventually degenerated into a self-serving, ill-informed and increasingly violent movement that ultimately became a parody of itself. It was evicted from parks across the country by law enforcement and now stands in tatters and disrepute, a caricature of its former self.

Idle No More is standing on the same precipice upon which Occupy once stood.

Part of the reason for the failure of Occupy was that it had no specific objectives beyond making a lot of noise and many who have hitched their horses to the Idle No More bandwagon are not much different. Whatever the original intent and regardless of the sincerity of its founders; Idle No More is quickly becoming a runaway train of disjointed activism and actions.

It lacks clear direction or defined achievable objectives.

It, like Chief Spence, has no specific agenda for discussions with the Government; it is just more of the same that we’ve seen before. They call it a revolution but in reality it is the same old rhetoric, accusations, blame and activism that has been trotted out in the past. It lacks defined objectives and is just more lofty visions about living in harmony with Mother Earth while holding the government to account for all the problems facing indigenous peoples today.

Idle No More would be better off holding their leadership to account for its failures and focusing on the poverty that is ruining their way of life, threatening their children and undermining their future.

Don’t take our word for it; many within the First Nations’ community are saying much the same thing.

Ernie Crey, is the former vice-president of the United Native Nations, a veteran aboriginal fishing rights activist and co-author of the award-winning Stolen from Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities.

He’s seen all of this before too and has been a long-time champion for the mostly voiceless aboriginals of Canada’s inner cities he was one of the leading voices behind forcing authorities to investigate the disappearance of missing aboriginal women in Vancouver that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Picton.

He said:

“We’ve got to get past this stage. There is no magic policy bullet that’s going to come out of some meeting with the prime minister or the Indian Affairs minister. We’re dealing with issues here that have bedeviled the very best of the aboriginal leadership for years.

“We have to get down to brass tacks here. To get anywhere, you need to be tightly organized. You have to formulate a serious program. You need a strategy that you’re following, with a concrete agenda. And you have to be able to articulate real and achievable goals. You’ve got to be very suspicious of national visions, or visions of any kind,”

He’s right and building a movement on the same misinformation, accusations and demands which employ all of the same old demonstrations and violence we’ve seen countless times before isn’t going to get it done. It hasn’t worked in the past and there is no reason to believe it will work now.

It’s long past time for Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike to come to the realization that the problems many First Nations’ bands face have less to do with historical arguments about treaties than they do with band management and the poor living conditions and lack of opportunity that arise from that.

The solutions to those issues are complex and difficut; but if Idle No More wants to start a true revolution that would be a good place to start. Merely allowing itself to continue to promulgate a sense of victimization and colonization will result in a degeneration into  the same old hype and activism of the past and that is a  road that leads nowhere for anyone.

It is part of the road that brought us here.

———————————————–RELATED——————————————

Where Is The Money Going On First Nations Reserves?

————————————————————————————————————-

Some First Nations’ Financial Statements Generate More Questions Than Answers

————————————————————————————————————-

The Misconceptions In Bill C45 That Sparked ‘Idle No More’ – Part One: Reserve Lands

————————————————————————————————————- Some First Nations’ Financial Statements Generate More Questions Than Answers ————————————————————————————————————-

© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Follow The Bear on Twitter: @maggsbear or connect with a friend request on Facebook: Maggie’s Bear

————————————————————————————————————-

  • kootzie

    There can be endless hee-hawing about the alleged and actual
    corruption of native politicians and their parasitic hangers-on
    while the people live in shitty conditions, and whether that
    very fact undermines the validity of the larger questions being
    raised.

    There can also be a lot of back-and-forthing about the matter
    of treaties, and whether the written text matches the verbal
    version communicated during the “negotiations”, and whether
    there are any outstanding legal, lawful, moral, ethical obligations on the part of the immigrants, or whether all of the rights of the first nations people have been ceded/surrendered/given-away/sold for blankets and beads…

    but, the fact is that a lot of territory is NOT covered by treaties, has not been formally/legally/lawfully conquered/bought/bait-and-switched and hence remains unarguably unceded terra under illegal occupation by fraudulent means
    there is no statute of limitations on fraud

    http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/dru/15493

    I am eager to see corrupt/incompetent leaders/politicians/parasitic-hangers-on of all races/cultures exposed/spanked/re-formed and/or replaced with people of honour, integrity, compassion, competence, and courage who will do what it takes to ensure that no one is left behind and the collateral damage is minimized.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Just out of curiosity, beyond the hundreds of billions already paid and committed for the endless future, just how much is Canada expected to pay to First Nations for the land?

  • Gabby in QC

    I welcome the PM’s decision to meet with a delegation of AFN representatives next Friday (Dec. 11), as reported here:
    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/pm-meet-first-nations-leaders-next-friday-talk-161530762.html

    I just hope the meeting doesn’t degenerate into an opportunity for the AFN to launch a tirade of accusations and grievances. If they truly are leaders, they have to come prepared to discuss the future rather than the past, putting forward real concrete and realistic solutions, not simply requests for more funding.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I wouldn’t be overly optimistic. Atleo was motivated by political expediency and the Prime Minister is merely responding in an attempt to calm troubled waters. The more things change…the more they stay the same.

      • Gabby in QC

        But what other solution is there? I don’t mean a solution to the aboriginal issue. I mean a solution to the increasing blockades, demonstrations, and other disruptions.

        Let’s face it, in today’s climate, where people who inhabit the twitterverse have the romanticized notion that they can change the world with their stream of 140 characters and by clanging on pots and pans … oh, wait a minute, those tactics did have an effect, here in Quebec. It’s not an effect I welcomed, but the ongoing student protests were successful in bringing down a government and ending some politicians’ careers, with all the consequences that entails. Despite his government’s at times anti-Harper moves, Jean Charest, a committed federalist and pro-business person, was preferable to the premier we Quebecers have now.

        I know, I’m digressing but I want my PM to succeed and not meet a fate similar to Charest’s, who was also in a majority situation. Despite all the vitriol the PM has to face on a daily basis, if putting a little water in his wine — as the saying goes — helps, I think the average Canadian will appreciate it and reward him with continued support. At least, that’s my sincere hope — that sanity will prevail

        Here’s the PM’s statement re: the agenda for the Dec. 11 meeting:
        http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=3&featureId=6&pageId=49&id=5213

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          You’re right that the student protests helped to bring down a government but they were completely unsuccessful in achieving their objective. While the tuition increase was scrapped, the PQ cut funding to colleges and universities by $124 million and guess who is going to pay for that? It will be students, so what they gained on the merry-go-round, they lost on the roundabout.

          There are no easy answers to the questions you ask but I would suggest that a good place to start would be in enforcing existing laws whenever legitimate protest becomes illegal actions. I would suggest that scrapping the Indian Act would also be a good place to start but a lot of First Nations don’t really want that. They want autonomy but they want someone else to pay for it and the Indian Act provides that contradiction.

          I would also suggest that the government needs to tell First Nations to either come together with a specific long-term set of priorities for all First Nations or in the alternative, disband the AFN and let the government negotiate separate arrangements with each band on its own. This hodge podge approach isn’t working.

          I too want this Prime Minister to continue to succeed. He has provided good government and is far more accommodating than progressives give him credit. I’m tired of the hypocrisy coming from progressives and vested self-interest.

          I appreciate your comments and that you take the time to leave them. Thank you.

          • Gabby in QC

            Just one more comment on this, if you allow me. On today’s Power & Politics, Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, despite losing that now infamous boxing match to Justin Trudeau, delivered a knock-out punch in an interview with the CBC’s Terry Milewski, who is often scornful of the Conservatives. At least, that’s my perception of his coverage.

            Sen. Brazeau stated it’s up to the AFN chiefs to show up at the Jan. 11 meeting with “a business plan” and not just to participate in a gab fest. He also explained in clear language some of the terms of C-45, like Ms. Tupper did in her 3 posts here, also citing Idle No More’s vague opposition as based on fear-mongering and misinformation. So, kudos to Sen. Brazeau.

            Finally, thank-you for your hospitality and for allowing me a venue for expressing my POV. It is especially welcome now that one of my former stomping grounds has unfortunately gone on what perhaps may be permanent hiatus.

            • http://abearsrant.com thebear

              You and your opinions are welcome here any time. I encourage open dialogue and as you will see if you scan other comments, even from those with whom I disagree. My only rule is that it be civil and reasonably intelligent.

  • Gabby in QC

    Pointing fingers at each other is no solution … and neither is bad optics created by misinformation. Ms. Tupper’s posts are the kind of information Canadians need in order to form an informed opinion.

    I’m a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party — not only in word, but also through my donations. However, I believe one major failing of my party is its communications strategy. There has been nary a word out of the PMO, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has been heard only on a few occasions, so the impression being created by opposition MPs, their buddies in the media, and some power-hungry aboriginal chiefs is that the PM and his party don’t care about the aboriginal population.

    Just one example of how silent the government has been: on today’s Power & Politics, the Liberls’ Carolyn Bennett was permitted to present her one-sided POV on the Chief Spence situation. NDP MP Charlie Angus, whom I believe has been a major instigator in many of these protest actions, was also scheduled to be on but was unable to appear on the show, for reasons unknown. Evan Solomon said on a couple of occasions that a Conservative representative had also been invited to be on the show to present the governemnt’s side, but “no one was made available”. WHY the heck not?

    I realize the Conservatives on such shows are usually given short shrift by moderators who tend to give opposition MPs much more leeway. But it is nevertheless in the government’s interest to at least try to present its side of the argument, i.e. information such as what has been presented here.

    Now the PMO is being given a golden opportunity by AFN Chie Shawn Atleo, who has invited the GG and the PM to an “urgent” meeting on Jan. 24, the one-year anniversary of last year’s meeting. I hope the PM accepts the invitation. IMO, it would have a salutary effect on public opinion:
    • Chief Shawn Atleo’s position as principal spokesperson for the AFN (rather than Pam Palmater or other pretenders to the leadership) would be reaffirmed.
    • The PM would be able to state the government’s concerns and position on the issues.
    • Chief Spence may finally reconsider and end her ill-considered hungry strike.

    • Gabby in QC

      Two corrections to my previous comment:
      • Paragraph 5 should read Chief Shawn Atleo.
      • Last line should read hunger strike NOT hungry strike.

      • http://abearsrant.com thebear

        I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who has to go back and edit what I’ve written after I’ve posted it. :-)

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      It isn’t quite that simple. Agreeing to a meeting at this point would be to lend legitimacy to the hunger strike and therefore the claims being made. It would be an encouragement for similar action in the future anytime one group or another didn’t get their own way. We’ve seen too many governments cave-in to these kinds of demonstrations and protests in the past including at places like Oka and Caledonia. I believe the only way the Prime Minister will agree to a meeting is if Theresa Spence first ends her hunger strike and goes home and all of those who are currently blockading and demonstrating roadways, rail lines and other facilities stand down.

      I don’t believe this government will allow itself to be threatened into negotiations nor should any government.

      • Gabby in QC

        I agree that governments should not cave-in to tactics like Chief Spence’s … but there is a difference between accepting Chief Atleo’s invitation and capitulating to Chief Spence’s demands.

        In this new world of social media, where misinformation can be spread at lightning speed, it is important for governments to correct bad optics, especially when impressions are filtered through the prism of a largely inimical media. The impression being created by the PMO’s silence is that the PM doesn’t care what happens to Chief Spence, and by extension, to her people. Participating with Chief Atleo in an anniversary meeting may be a good opportunity for the PM to list whatever concrete improvements have been implemented under his government. Also, Chief Atleo’s position as principal LEGITIMATE spokesperson needs to be reinforced. On that last point, the idiomatic expression “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians” seems appropriate — although I use it at the risk of being called racist in our politically correct times.

        All in all — IMO, it would be better optics for the general public to see the PM’s willingness to work with the legitimate leadership rather than the apparent stony, supposedly insensitive and unfeeling silence from the PMO.

        And yes … self-editing is indeed sometimes necessary! :-)

      • Gordon

        I agree with you bear. I would rather a government in place that didn’t cave to Spence just for the sake of optics which Gabby seems to prefer. Do we know whether the meeting will INCLUDE Spence? It may not.

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          I think Gabby is sincere and well-intentioned and I think some of her concerns are more than legitimate but I also believe, as you do, that it is a dangerous game to give in to demands made by coercion. We’ve seen too often in the past where that leads. I don’t believe that Chief Spence has been invited but that would be up to Chief Atleo to propose. He called the meeting. If he were to propose it, it could be a deal breaker for the Prime Minister. My main point is that I doubt that much will come from this meeting other than a commitment for more meetings and it will do little to reduce the rhetoric and protest. It may, however, sideline Theresa Spence and leave her with little relevance. If she opposes the meeting and continues her strike, she leaves herself open to criticism for being intransigent and unrealistic. If she ends her strike, many people will wonder what the point of it was.

          • Gordon

            I agree with you from a strictly strategic perspective. Optics have a way of becoming distorted even with the best of intentions.

            No slight on Gabby intended, I’m just not convinced that little thought has been put in to the communication optics by the PMO at this point, and for the reasons you suggest.

            • http://abearsrant.com thebear

              I think you will find that the PMO is very well-versed in optics. They confront stuff like this virtually every day.

  • Dollops – Eric Doll

    Do the math. 34+ million dollars annually handed over to fewer than ( a lot fewer, I suspect) 1500 band members averages out to six figures per family. Who needs to live in poverty or unsanitary circumstances with that much money available? Native Indian leadership will never “solve” the many problems – rather they will perpetuate and proliferate them in order to keep the current caste system working to their own advantage.
    The many problems endured by lower caste Native Indians all trace back to one cause and it is Indian status. The huge amounts of paternalistic monies being squandered by officials at all levels of government should immediately be redirected to individual indigenous Canadians through a program that eliminates status and eases those citizens into self sufficiency however they choose to pursue it.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Not all bands are badly managed and not all chiefs and band managers are corrupt but there is a culture that you correctly identify with too many that includes both a paternalistic, almost upper class mentality and of victimization in too many bands. Clearly if al bands are basically treated equally by the government in terms of rights, benefits and funding and some are doing significantly better than others, it would seem to suggest that the problems on those bands that are struggling are a lot closer to home. Blaming government is old, worn out game. Government has made mistakes but government doesn’t manage First Nations communities, band councils and chiefs do. Government doesn’t spend the money or allocate it on the reserve, First Nations councils and chiefs do. The AFN constantly cries out about lack of consultation but they were the ones who walked out the consultative meetings with the government over the Indian Education Act proposals. The changes to the Indian Act in Bill C-45 were made at the request of certain bands in British Columbia and many of the other amendments and changes that have been made in recent years actually give First Nations more autonomy.

      It has become a game of entitlement in some quarters. Demand more funding, threaten violence, get more money but once that all takes place, the poverty continues. At some point a change has to happen. That change can either be collaberative or it can forced by circumstance. Either way, the current way of doing business with many First Nations bands just isn’t working and change is going to ocme.

      • Dollops – Eric Doll

        Bear, I respectfully disagree that government is “not the problem.” The very fact that indigenous Canadians are still segregated from the mainstream after all these years of voluntary assimilation must tell us that Indian status is an anachronism that should be eliminated as soon as possible. The “little brown people” treatment implicit in Canada’s approach to all things Aboriginal does immeasurable harm to the spirit and fortunes of the majority of indigenous Canadians. The fact that some band leaders achieve some degree of success within the current system does not justify the system. Thinking in broad international and historic terms leads us to believe that Canada and all of its resources belong to Canadians; that indigenous Canadians are no different from other citizens; and that the best way to help people improve their circumstances is to get government out of the way.

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          You have correctly identified the basic problem but have attributed it to some desire on the part of the government to maintain the status quo. The government would love to have these issues far behind them. It is complex, divisive, overly expensive and there are no easy solutions to even the simplest of problems. Simpy abolishing the Indian Act won’t work because many First Nations don’t want that, so it’s almost impossible to get agreement. What Harper did with the changes he’s made, is to try and provide more economic empowerment at the band level with his recent changes to the Indian Act and we’ve seen how welcome those were in some quarters. Government has been part of the problem in the past, it has been paternalistic, not always honoured the treaties it signed and slow to respond or react but government doesn’t manage the reserves. The squalor and social issues that exist on many reserves have nothing to do with government and everything to do with the leadership of the First Nations and until the aboriginal community accepts and starts to address that, not much is going to change no matter how much money gets tossed into the pot.

  • Nick

    All the first nations chiefs should do a walk of shame instead of “idling no more”…I hope a civilian war happens due to this.

  • Gordon

    Excellent Part III submission! I see this as a very orchestrated diversion from the actual accounting by Spence herself to her own people.

    On SunNewsNetwork last night Ezra said that Spence’s Reserve had been funded to the tune of $250,00 per person on that Reserve. I don’t know about others here but my family in rural Ontario is living on considerably less than that and doing ok. Where did the rest of that money go Chief Spence?