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In Conclusion: All Talk and No Action for Forty Years

 

© 2007 Brad Kempo B.A. LL.B.

Barrister & Solicitor

 

Everything that can be said has been said about why Canada’s proud first inhabitants were degraded, humiliated and peripheralized. 

 

The last words were chosen because they are some four decades apart and demonstrate there never was any intention to support and assist.

 

Of the following quotes, here’s a perfect example of the “fiduciary duty" in action. Abominably, it took a full year after Parliament's so-called apology to simply appoint someone to the commission. 

 

 

June 11, 2009

 

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, CPC): 

 

Mr. Speaker, one year ago today, the Prime Minister stood in the House to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada's role in the Indian residential school system. This historic event began an era of reconciliation and repairing relationships with aboriginal peoples, and we will continue to work closely with them in a spirit of partnership and healing.

 

Yesterday, our government announced the new chair and commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These appointments are a step forward and part of our commitment to delivering a fair and lasting resolution…

 

 

 

 

British Columbia Hansard

 

February 10, 1970

 

Mr. Frank Calder:

 

Mr. Speaker, what do these excerpts and others in this statement represent? Exactly what do these statements represent? To me they represent a knowledge of the existence of the Indian problem. After 103 years they have finally admitted they represent a knowledge of existence of the Indian problem. They represent a proof that for over 103 years there have been no real efforts to solve the problem. They represent a glowing admission of failure. They represent a lack of rehabilitative policy. They represent a lack of consultations with the Indian people when consultations were opportune and necessary.

 

 

Parliament Hansard

 

April 5, 2006

 

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP)

 

In a country as rich as Canada, first nations, Inuit and Métis people deserve better than third world living conditions and second-class treatment. It is an absolute national disgrace that 95% of aboriginal people live below the poverty line.

 

The threat of First Nations uprisings Gandhi-style led to a lengthy debate in Parliament on May 18, 2007. What emerged was symptomatic of institutional maliciousness, intentional covert paralysis, acting only to look effective with no desire to effect substantive policies, seeking to put out the fire and drawing attention to the hypocrisy that all members of the House are guilty of and which led to proving in early 2007 there had been a concerted attempt by all political parties, federal and provincial, to procure aboriginal genocide.

 

Ms. Tina Keeper (Churchill, Lib.):

 

When will the minister stop his divide and conquer approach and work with aboriginal leaders to improve the quality of life for first nations people across the country instead of allowing tensions to escalate?

 

Mr. Rod Bruinooge (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):

 

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the member is representative of the Liberal Party, which had a number of years, over a decade, to address some of the very serious issues that face first nations people. Unfortunately, the very last moment of its reign, which did not end soon enough, was the very moment when it put forward its quasi-plan, which we all know was just a press release.

 

Remarks like the following prove how deluded the country’s politicians are about what’s been accomplished while in office:

 

Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP):

 

In a country that prides itself on its human rights record, I would argue that by having children continue to not have access to services on reserve that we take for granted in every other part of this country is truly a violation of human rights.

 

 

October 31, 2007

 

Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP):     

 

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to investing in Canada's aboriginal communities, the government is heading in the wrong direction.

   

Now that the Liberals have rolled over and joined the Prime Minister in coalition, Canada will be heading in the wrong direction even faster.

 

Mouldy housing, unsafe drinking water, youth suicide and disease plague these communities.

 

Why does the mini-budget have billions of dollars for the banks and oil companies, but not one penny to lift aboriginal communities out of poverty or improve their third world living conditions?

 

Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC): 

  

Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with first nations communities. Since we have come to office, we have increased the budget by over a billion dollars to help first nations.

 

There is a big deficit of course that we inherited from the Liberal Party, but we are working closely with first nations. We are moving ahead on treaty settlements. We are working with them hand in glove on housing initiatives and on clean water initiatives.

   

There is a lot of work to be done, but we are working closely with the first nations communities and it is going very well.

 

[…]

 

Unfortunately, we have … been cited on the international scene. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child said that overall Canada is at number six, but when we look at aboriginal children in Canada and their socio-economic status we actually drop to number 78. We rank between Lebanon and Kazakhstan.

 

That is a shame. That, I would say, is verging on criminal. It is verging on criminal that we have children in this country who are living in such dire straits that a United Nations convention cites Canada's very poor track record. I think that if most Canadians were aware of this they would be urging the federal government to put children first.

 

[...]

 

Mr. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ): 

 

In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Erasmus-Dussault Commission, submitted a report. Nothing has happened. Nobody has done anything.

 

 

October 31, 2007

 

The Auditor General’s Report (Globe & Mail)

 

[T]he Auditor-General found the Department of Indian Affairs "still has not developed a strategy for implementing" the Inuvialuit Final Agreement land claim in the northwestern Arctic that was signed 23 years ago.

 

 

June 2, 2009

 

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): 

  

Despite Canada's obligation to first nations in terms of health care, they face one of the lowest standards of living in Canada, challenges that many Canadians cannot imagine.

 

First nations need more doctors, nurses and health workers to meet the demand, preventing such tragedies as the death of Chace Barkman of Garden Hill who was misdiagnosed.

 

First nations need preventive supports, as we are now dealing with a possible outbreak of the flu in St. Theresa Point that could potentially be damaging.

 

First nations need health care infrastructure in their communities that fit their needs, whether it is Cross Lake, Opaskwayak Cree Nation or the Island Lake region that have been demanding health centres for some time.

 

Finally, first nations deserve access to housing, roads, water and sewer services, education and employment that so many Canadians take for granted.

 

 

June 4, 2009

 

Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP):

 

As someone who represents a riding which is made up of 70% aboriginal people, first nations and Métis, I recognize that this would have a tremendous negative impact on the region that I represent. Already we have some of the highest incarceration rates. I know this from the opportunities I have had to visit the communities that I represent and based on the stories that I have heard. People talk about their sons, their fathers, their husbands who have either been in jail or are in jail or have in some way fallen on the other side of the law.

 

I note that in many of our prisons there is a disproportionate number of aboriginal people, especially when we consider that aboriginal people make up a smaller percentage of the overall population. That is so important to recognize. We talk about the justice system being blind, but based on the tremendous research that has taken place, it is clear that it is far from blind. We should be looking with a very critical eye at policies and legislation that could continue to contribute to the inequality that results from the way justice is currently served in our country.

 

[...]

 

 The education situation, the situation of the schools in many of these first nations is appalling. It is third world. It is shameful.

 

 

June 8, 2009

 

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): 

 

In the James Bay-Mushkegowuk region, I have numerous communities that are suffering from terrible and unforgiveable levels of underfunding in terms of basic infrastructure.

 

Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.):

 

I also want to talk about first nations communities. The trauma that is taking place right now on first nations communities is a national blight. Some reserves are extraordinary. They have wonderful leadership and great social outcomes. The reality is that the incidence of child abuse, sexual abuse, and violence is much higher in aboriginal communities than in non-aboriginal communities.

 

This goes for first nations on and off reserve, the off-reserve community being one that is often ignored. If we look at the jail population, those who are incarcerated, we find that the population of first nations individuals in that environment is actually disproportionate to their numbers in Canada.

 

[…]

 

What we cannot do is stick with the status quo, because it creates a milieu that in many ways breeds a dysfunctional environment.

 

[…]

 

In my riding on Vancouver Island, in Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, I have the Pacheedaht First Nation, and on that reserve there are horrific conditions. There have been suicides, children committing suicide, suicide pacts, sexual abuse, violence and substance abuse. As hard as one tries to break through that, the community is never quite able to get the resources or the relationship that is required by the Department of Indian Affairs to deal with their plight.

 

In closing, I would impress that it is absolutely crucial, a matter of fundamental humanitarianism, that we work with these communities and embrace the solutions that will give these children, this generation, more hope and a better future than their parents had.

 

 

June 11, 2009

 

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, CPC): 

   

Mr. Speaker, one year ago today, the Prime Minister stood in the House to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada's role in the Indian residential school system. This historic event began an era of reconciliation and repairing relationships with aboriginal peoples, and we will continue to work closely with them in a spirit of partnership and healing.

 

Yesterday, our government announced the new chair and commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These appointments are a step forward and part of our commitment to delivering a fair and lasting resolution…

 

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