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Money alone can’t change Indigenous living conditions

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Lorrie Goldstein, of the Toronto Sun, wrote a sterling piece on how billions thrown at Indigenous in the 21st century alone by all levels of government has not changed their living conditions.

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If money could solve Indigenous lack of potable water, housing services, firefighting equipment, communication systems, unemployment and suicide, it would have happened.

Governments spend billions ineffectively in Canada’s troubled relationship with First Nations.

What was the knee-jerk response to the discovery of the remains of 215 children in an unmarked burial site at a former residential school?  More money.

Has government consulted with individual bands to determine their most urgent needs?

It blahs “no relationship is more important than the relationship with Indigenous.”

The latest budget promises a “historic investment of $18 billion over the next five years to improve their quality of life.”

Governments will spend a total of $24.5 billion on Indigenous programs in 2021-22, on top of $12.9 billion in 2016-17; $15.4 billion in 2017-18; $17 billion in 2018-19; $20.5 billion in 2019-20,  and a further $22.7 billion, total= 113 billion.

Have Indigenous living conditions improved?

Every year, spring flooding causes Kashechewan residents to be evacuated.

In 1990 Archbishop Desmond Tutu was shocked at the living conditions in some northern communities reminding him of shanty towns of his fellow blacks in South Africa.

How would you react if you had six or eight or 15 members of your family and community commit suicide in one year?

How is it possible that Indigenous reserves still lack clean water?

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For all the promises the federal government made over decades, quality of Indigenous lives have not come even close to the majority of Canadians.

Unemployment, poverty, disease, drug and alcohol addiction, suicide and incarceration rates remain far above Canadian norms.

Endless land claims remain unresolved, resulting in peaceful protests that disrupt our economy through rail and highway blockades.

This despite “scathing reports from Canada’s late auditor-general Michael Ferguson in 2016-18 on Canada’s incomprehensible failure to close the socioeconomic gap between its First Nations people and other Canadians.”

He called it “an abject failure of leadership going back decades at the federal, provincial, territorial and First Nations levels, with most of the responsibility falling on the federal government.”

He said “the federal bureaucracy doesn’t monitor the results of its spending on Indigenous programs to see if the money is accomplishing what it’s supposed to accomplish.”

Surely this comment applies to more than Indigenous programs.

Instead, Ferguson reported “these programs are managed to accommodate the people running them rather than the people receiving the services; the focus is on measuring what civil servants are doing rather than how well Canadians are being served.”

What business would keep spending like this with no results?

Ferguson said “We don’t even see that they know how to measure those gaps that the funding is supposed to address, and until we do, Canada will continue to squander the potential and lives of much of its Indigenous population.”

A FaceBook cartoon of a white church atop a mountain of children’s bones with the words “Love your Neighbour” drew no comments.

It is sad that tragedies of Indigenous people receive less attention and concern than tragedies involving new Canadians.

Reach Gene Monin at adios43@yahoo.com

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