Time for the blame game to stop : What happened to truth and accountability ?

Let me qualify this post by saying first, I’m not First Nations, so in no way can I presume to completely understand the issues,feelings or experiences of any First Nations people.

On the other hand, I’m not a politician either, but I do have considerable business/commerce knowledge and experience, both taught and practical. I’ve also worked on the front lines of a (now-defunct) not for profit housing agency, dealing with clients from all walks of life : the mentally ill, addicted, those from generational poverty and those recently down and out. We were also one of the few agencies to deal with recent parole’s from both provincial and federal facilities, as well as the Colony Farm Forensic facility, that houses the criminally insane.

Needless to say, I have a few stories to tell. Another day perhaps, but all this experience ties into the current attention being played to First Nations issues in the media. My perspective comes from someone experienced in dealing with barriers to escaping poverty, and someone experienced with using hard facts and evidence that would stand up in court.

As played out before the entire world, the audit of Attawapiskat was “leaked” to CBC yesterday, prompting a firestorm of epic proportions.  Accusations and blame began flying left to right: look at this proof, all Indian chiefs are criminals, blah blah blah.. but overwhelmingly the portrayal by many media sources what that Chief Spence was to blame for all that Attawapiskat has to deal with.

Really? Let’s talk some reality here.

Is this one woman to blame for all the misery behind Attawapiskat? What responsibility does the government hold for this particular situation…. which in reality, is only one of many communites plagued by similar issues of substandard housing, unsafe water,substandard education and poverty, across Canada?

Let’s start with…   “The Audit”.

First of all, this audit was completed last year.

It is not a new document, suddenly appearing out of no where, it was finalized last year, as this letter shows. http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1350245614631/1350245787729

Spence has known about this since last year, and so did the government. So, why didnt they release it when it first appeared? Oh… wait… perhaps it wasnt politically convenient to them.

Enough said on that.

The audit details hundreds of transactions with either little documentation or none.

It is a scathing testament to accountability for this community – if one is honest -and it doesn’t impress me at all, as someone who puts transparency and accountability in any form of governance at the top of the list.

I know firsthand from friends in other First Nations communities that chiefs ( most often elected, not hereditary) who live very well while others are despondent, are indeed a big issue, one that plays out with increasing frequency despite little to no media coverage in communities without a voice.

So, in some cases, it’s not unlike our provincial and federal governments…

Example…. more often than not, senior bureaucrats who make decisions behind the scenes make even more than the PM, MP’s or MLA’s… but do we see an in-depth forensic audit or expose happening on that?

Ahh… no, that wouldnt be very convenient, would it?  Accountability depends on who receives inside info, or how filed the best FOI request.No one milking the gravy train is going to come forward on their own to admit it.

However, what really bothered me is that what many media outlets did not report that while the audit covered the federal funds received by the community between the years of 2005 and 2011 …. Theresa Spence only became Chief in 2010.

Furthermore, in examination of 400 Aboriginal Affairs payments, Deloitte reported that 214 of the transactions that lacked documentation occurred before Spence took over, and 31 happened after.

In my opinion, this is important information that was not reported in a lot of the coverage.

Why?

Simply speaking, because it is truthful.

Clearly, given this audit, Spence can’t take all the blame for what is going on in this community, not by far. What ails Attawapiskat isn’t new, in fact has been going on for a long time, and is being repeated in First Nations communities all across the country, from Powell River, to Northern BC, to the NorthWest Territories.

The evidence is visible in many First Nations communities simply by driving through them. Shacks, repaired and re-repaired, tacked up, and curtains of rags covering windows. Let’s not pretend this is not true, OK?

So who takes the blame?

Take a look at this audit presented by interim Auditor John Wiersema.http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201106_04_e_35372.html

In a report by CBC in June of 2011, the departing Auditor General of Canada, whose time with the Harper government conveniently( for them) came to an end, had this to say:

” The basics of life — education, child welfare, clean drinking water and adequate housing — are persistently and dramatically substandard, and in some cases deteriorating, says the report.

A true fix, however, requires more than tinkering with policies and implementation of new processes, the report warns. Instead, a complete overhaul of federal tools and increased participation of First Nations themselves is necessary.

“I am profoundly disappointed to note … that despite federal action in response to our recommendations over the years, a disproportionate number of First Nations people still lack the most basic services that other Canadians take for granted,” former auditor general Sheila Fraser says in her parting words to Parliament.

“In a country as rich as Canada, this disparity is unacceptable.”

….

Fraser’s team went over all 16 of her audits of First Nations policy from the last 10 years, and then went back to government to see how well officials had lived up to their key commitments to make improvements.

In many cases, she found, little effort had been made to make changes. In cases where new strategies had been introduced, progress was difficult to note.

…..

Funding formulas are based on 1980s information, and strategies for improvements have been left unimplemented or applied unevenly.

….

On housing, the audit points out that the shortage of adequate shelter has increased, while conditions in existing housing have deteriorated. Rampant mould problems have been met with an information campaign on websites and pamphlets, rather than actual help or funding to eradicate the harmful spores.

When it comes to drinking water on reserves, the federal government has drafted legislation to ensure its safety, but concrete changes are years away, the report warns.

In the meantime, water quality testing is only being done sporadically, and key information is not being shared. More than half of reserves’ drinking water systems are at risk, the report said.

….

After paying close attention to First Nations’ issues for a solid decade, Fraser says she has concluded that a radical fix is needed.

In our view, many of the problems facing First Nations go deeper than the existing programs’ lack of efficiency and effectiveness.”

Progress is blocked by the fact that there is no legislation defining the level and range of services the federal government is responsible for, she says.

Funding arrangements are based on annual contribution agreements that make it hard for communities to know if they will receive timely and stable financing. And most First Nations bands don’t have the school-board or health-board infrastructure that other communities rely on to support delivery of key services.

Governments at the provincial and federal levels, as well as First Nations themselves, need to hash out a better way to co-operate and deliver the basics, Fraser warns.

“Unless they rise to this challenge, however, living conditions may continue to be poorer on First Nations reserves than elsewhere in Canada for generations to come.”

(  and why was former Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser let go again? )

What is pertinent in this report is that Fraser places accountability also in the hands of First Nations, while clearly spelling out a decade of failings of this government.

  I suggest you read the entire report.

It is an eye-opener if you are of the camp that believes First Nations created their own problems to solve. Or that Government is blameless.

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201106_04_e_35372.html

Does that mean that I blindly absolve Spence of all accountability? Not at all.

It is disappointing to see her driving such an expensive and truly, if you are a northerner and know which vehicles perform best in rough conditions – ridiculously expensive vehicle.

An Escalade, something that has become nothing but a status symbol driven by uber-moms in my neighbourhood,  movie stars and music producers…to gangsters with blinged out rims… and apparently Chiefs in reserves experiencing desperate conditions. How much did that puppy cost up there? The optics are not good, at all. Everything that far north costs a fortune to not only buy, but transport into the community.

It is also disheartening to hear of continued assertions that there is no issue with her life partner ( Clayton Kennedy)  performing the duties as Band Manager, because, if you are honest, this is a clear and substantiated conflict of interest,  a completely unacceptable situation everyone here would howl about if it occurred with Harper and his wife,or any other leader across Canada.

The media would be howling over that I think… or am I wrong in saying this?

More damning is this video from CBC done a year ago, but being spread far and wide, most recently in this article from the National Post :

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1ynaC8f5ues

Clearly, it shows that problems exist that do need to be addressed if one wants to hold all of us to to the same level of accountability that we hold the Harper government and our provincial governments to.

Why are donations sitting in a house doing nothing, when children are going without all over Canada? Why is a life partner handling finances when its  a clear conflict? If the video is incorrect in its portrayal, I beg Attawapiskat residents to tell me this, please.

All of it, speaks to a problem deeper and far harder to solve than anyone imagines. And if you think I am wrong, let me know loud and clear. To expect accountability from one side is to expect it from the other….. indeed, I’ve been all over that for years… but what happens when one side has the education, the means and the resources to be accountable….  and chooses not to – like our federal and provincial governments?

What happens when one side doesn’t fairly have the same access… and is demonized by media, friends and foes alike?

What happens when we have a federal government that muzzles scientists, a government that gets rid of auditors that point out inconvenient truths and conducts more business in secrecy than it does publicly to avoid confrontation?

And where does that leave all of us, as a nation?

This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Politics, Corruption, Federal politics, Laila Yuile, The Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Time for the blame game to stop : What happened to truth and accountability ?

  1. Norm Farrell says:

    One of the smartest comments I’ve read about Attawaspikat,truth and accountability.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Thank you Norman. It was a long,reality check day yesterday, even from a jaded, cynical writer like myself. I sent information to a reporter I respected,and he ignored it. I was appalled. The sad part is the impact one story will likely have on hundreds of communities all painted in the same light.

      Like

  2. Norm Farrell says:

    BTW, thank you for incredibly valuable efforts you make without being a corporate beneficiary. That makes your comments meaningful, as compared to say, K.M. who shills for people with attractive cheque books.

    Like

  3. Len says:

    Millions of dollars given to people who have no responsability to manage it properly leads to coruption….just look at our provincial leadership….Nothing is different on the reserves,the chief and councillors get the cash and piss on the rest…..it’s the same thing.BAD LEADERSHIP

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Yes, in some cases, bad leadership, and that needs to be handled,without a doubt. But lets take a look.

      Where is the outrage over child poverty in non aboriginal populations across Canada? Where is the collective outrage over visible homelessness and substandard housing in every single one of our communities across Canada? Hmm? Nothing new there, we have become so used to seeing this poverty as a western society that we no longer compute it. Except one thing. It’s so commonplace. In nearly every city, town and village across Canada, we have desolate poverty, we have addictions, we have substandard housing…..

      What I am saying in there is a need for accountability across the board. And yes, there is a difference on the reserves. You or I were never forced to go live on one. Get it?

      Like

  4. spartikus says:

    FWIW Clayton Kennedy claims Spence recused herself during the hiring process and that he was the one responsible for improvements in Attawapiskat’s book-keeping.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      I would counter that the optics are still not good. Position holds influence on votes, look at the Conservative government among others. I included his assertions in my post for fairness on both sides. In the corporate world, off reserve or not, first nations or not, this would be conflict regardless of abstainence from the vote. His defensiveness and demeanor supports that.

      I present an uncomfortable point for many. Yes, fewer issues under Spence financially, however, there is no escaping culpability.

      Like

  5. Laila says:

    It’s not an easy place to be. But it had to be said.

    Like

  6. davidtrudel says:

    Great article Laila. One small point re Clayton Kennedy is that in small communities it is extremely problematic to apply the same standards as you would in a larger community. There is a limited talent pool to draw on and so I tend to cut some slack in those situations.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Agreed. And much more expensive. Amazing to me, in particular as former northern resident, born and raised, that people dont get that. Heck, fresh veg is comparable to lobster to buy up there… and same for labour pool. Hence the opinion in my 24 hours column. Take back pride, take back self accountability, and move forward. And accepting help doesnt mean failure, it means progress.

      Like

  7. Inspirational words from the late AIM leader Russell Means: “I don’t want to be remembered as an activist. I want to be remembered as an American Indian patriot.” http://fb.me/1HyZMx339

    Like

  8. kokumlee says:

    My first suggestion is that if you wish to be taken seriously as someone who has credibility to comment on Attawapiskat, you should probably learn how to spell it correctly.

    As I was reading this, I thought: “She is trying to come off as an expert & while the information is decent, she’s presenting it in a tone that sounds colonialist.”
    You have apparently bought into the

    “Damn Indians, take our money & squander it”
    argument, while professing to support our issues. That fence you’re sitting on? I hope one of the fence posts gives you splinters in your ass.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Thanks for your input- I do see a spelling error, a typo for sure and it will be corrected. however please clarify how I am being colonialist? Where did I infer ” Damn Indians – take our money and squander it?” Seriously, can you point that out?

      I called for accountability on both sides. This is but one community, one situation. There are many, many more like this. And there is a government working hard to disprove their culpability in it.

      I sit on a fence of truth, and accountability, that doesnt bar race, gender, political leaning or birthright, and it feels quite smooth on my ass, thank you. How about yourself?

      “Our issues” you state?

      Define our.

      Like

      • kokumlee says:

        Rather disingenuous of you to call it a “typo” when you misspelled it all 5 times you used the word in the article. Nice to see that you learned something.

        “Our” as in: Possessive pronoun. “Of or belonging to us”

        Since basic spelling & grammar seem to be a problem, I won’t address anything else here.
        The concepts would be too difficult for you to grasp.

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        • nonconfidencevote says:

          Kokumlee
          It’s good to know that your first reaction to Laila’s article is to insult her because of her “tone” and then when she asks you what you found insulting, you refuse to discuss it because ” the concepts would be too difficult for you to grasp”
          My, how convenient………stir the pot then walk away.

          Like

        • Laila says:

          Curious, “kokumlee” are you simply linking to the blog of Lee Deranger, or is this actually Lee I am speaking to ? Please clarify to avoid confusion for people reading.

          That’s fine, I don’t mind if you choose to ignore my questions,people often do when they make them feel uncomfortable or they can’t be answered without the person answering having to look a little silly.

          I do apologize for the errors, there were in fact two typos and I discovered that spell check seems to think Attawapiskat should be spelled differently. But I see no reason why you feel the need to insult me over what you said was a presentation of decent information, that in all fairness, is fairly presented. Unless you feel I shouldnt have pointed out that accountability needs to occur on both sides.

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        • notamused says:

          “Since basic spelling & grammar seem to be a problem, I won’t address anything else here.”

          Cop out. Laila apologized for the single error. If you read this blog regularly, you know perfectly well Laila is an intelligent, thoughtful and fair blogger for whom spelling and grammar aren’t issues.

          No human being on this earth is immune to failure and failings. That includes you.

          Like

  9. workforfun says:

    I see that the CONServative government under Herr Harpers leadership, is doing it’s damnest at character assination – just like they did with Michael Ignatieff.
    Perhaps the government could show where they have actually tried to do something to help the FN people other than reluctantly hand out money.
    With all the talent that senior civil servants must posses, why on earth haven’t they come up with acceptable guidelines and minimum job requirements for the FN people to use and work with. It appears that the governement has more than it’s fair share of the blame and to try and discredit one woman who is trying her hardest, to get some sort of resolution to the problems and hardships that the FN people face, is a sure sign of desperation. Harper klnows he cannot extricate himself from this mess – and this is the many that lectured the world on fiscal management and responsibility.

    What a bunch of losers we have in Ottawa . It appears that no one is trying resolve the issues, but instead try to blame the FN people for all the problems.

    Another great post Laila, but it sure irks me when I see g0vernment acts as bullys and contribute nothing voluntarily.

    Thanks

    Like

  10. Bella says:

    Chief Spence’s common-law husband in the position of Band Manager doesn’t bother me (shortage of qualified people). The audit findings don’t bother me (paper trail could easily be lost in Ottawa or poor training at the Band office). But the Escalade is a different story. Why would a leader of such a poverty-stricken group want to drive around her community in a such an obvious status-symbol vehicle. This is not a sign of integrity, humility, or caring. It bugs me and, unfortunately, is making me wonder if the Chief is a plant, an agent provocateur in the Idle No More movement. Gawd, I hope not.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      But… would it bother you if Harpers wife was a head honcho in gov? It would me. If one or the other screws up, will emotional attachment take over integrity?

      The audit findings bother me, because it indicates a long standing failure of proper management in this community. It would bother any accountant interested in accountability.

      The escalade is entirely an ego thing in my opinion. White,red, brown,green or black, that is one useless gas hog of a vehicle, even with snow tires… I was born and raised in the north, I know..lol.. Most people go duty for vehicle in the north, over status. And yes, it is in your face for those in sick homes and poverty. A good leader doesnt flaunt, in my opinion, they should be humble.

      Like

      • Bella says:

        You have to admit there are possible mitigating factors around the first two issues – they CAN be explained. The fancy vehicle doesn’t have an explanation or am I missing something? Did she get the Escalade as a gift from the mining company? Did she then put her vehicle allowance (assuming she has one) into Band revenues where the money could be distributed to the community? I want to hear her explanation for owning this very inappropriate vehicle. I know it’s none of our business but if she wants our backing, she’ll help those of us who have some trust issues. I need to know she is sincere.

        Like

        • Laila says:

          I think your question is fair enough Bella, I dont know the answer. I’ve just gotten back from a hellish day commuting in this wretched storm and am just catching up. In the grand scheme its nothing but it just struck me as so glaring considering the condition of the community.

          Like

  11. Laila says:

    Agreed. Unfortunately we cant excuse the mistakes of anyone on either side in all of this.To hold one to account without the other, looking at the report above, is to ignore a solution.

    But perhaps my friend Kim is correct in stating Harper has succeeded in dividing it to them ,and us…. reinforced by the commenter above. Many would prefer I dont point out where Spence could have and should have, done different. But looking at all sides is not a popular trend.

    Like

    • Don F. says:

      Very good article Laila, this surely is unusual for the Government to make such a spectacle about the accounts of this particular band at this particular time. The convenience of it is sickening. Surely there are many instances country wide where the same accusations could have been brought forth but haven’t.
      Pathetic to insult ‘ALL CANADIANS’ this way Mr. Harper.

      Like

      • Laila says:

        Thank you and agreed Don. This could have come out earlier. Sheila Frasers report makes it clear that little has been done, or even attempted over the years to make things work properly.

        Like

  12. katharina says:

    for someone who fasted for 28 days she looked pretty good on tv. can’t imagine not eating for that long and still standing.

    Like

  13. Julie says:

    That’s what gets me. I have read, the gall of Chief Spence to have a double wide trailer home. The F.N. are not permitted to have decent homes. My God, if they have a decent vehicle. Their children do not deserve proper schools. An ice cold portable, where they have to keep their winter jackets on, is good enough for them.

    The F.N. are Canadians too. They sent their sons to war, right alongside my own brothers. The Canadian government didn’t even have the decency, to recognize the F.N. people for their war service.

    You are right Laila. The F.N. must address corruption in their band administration. However, don’t expect Harper to do the same. The AG couldn’t do his books, because of the Harper governments, refusal to give him the information he needed. Harper is accountable to no-one. Harper famous words of his government agenda. I am the law. I make the rules. That’s what the F.N. are up against. Harper doesn’t consult, he dictates.

    Same in the BC government too. Doyle is not permitted the information he needs, to do his books either. Campbell’s reign of terror spawned many corrupt demons. Any who oppose the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals on anything, lose their jobs. The BC Liberals have never worked, for their province and citizens.

    This is the very sad state of this country. Lies, deceit and corruption, everywhere you look.

    Like

  14. nonconfidencevote says:

    The entire Indian Affairs system in Canada has been an abject failure for over 100 years. Canada is not the only country to struggle with a system that each successive govt refuses to deal with.
    We only have to look south at the US to see the abject poverty stricken reservations in the “Land of Plenty”…. Australia with its Aboriginals living on reservations in misery, Mexico with their indigenous populations living in squalor, Asia, South America, etc.etc.etc.
    The seperation of native peoples from the rest of “society” was an idea created long ago by Colonial “masters” for a subjugated people.

    Its time is done….

    It hasnt worked.
    Change is obviously needed.

    How do we affect change?
    Natives wont want to give up their “special status” or their lands to be assimilated .
    So what do we do?

    Govt. obviously doesnt care about the people living on the reserves. If the 100 million dollars squandered on this latest reservation is any indication no one seemed to ask. Where the money was spent. How the money was spent. Or Who recieved the most benefit from this money.
    The Dept of Indian Affairs is a multi BILLION dollar per year agency that (like ALL other govt beaurocracys) feeds upon its own success….growing ever larger…
    They never, ever want things to change….

    Several Canadian and American bands have used the natural resources ( trees, minerals, fishing rights, access to water, etc) on their reserves to invest in their future and build prosperity.
    Unfortunately , thats the exception rather than the rule.

    Audits are a good start, taxpayers dont want to see this kind of uncontrolled waste nor do the average person want to see people (ANY people) in their own country living in squalor.
    The Media also needs to be watching this fraudulent waste and reporting on it.
    If the money flow needs to be halted in order to bring sanity to chaos, so be it.

    Like

  15. workforfun says:

    It seems that the northern Ontario FN peoples are getting it on all sides. This article from APTN shows that the Attawapiskat people have been ignored by the government for years and it appears nothing has been done to prevent further re-occurances. No wonder people get fed up !

    http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/12/13/de-beers-decision-to-dump-sewage-into-attawapiskat-played-role-in-current-housing-crisis/

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Quite the story. I do feel for this community and moreso the children in all communities experiencing their lives like this. There are no easy solutions but for this situation and for others, I would start with Sheila Frasers report.

      Like

  16. Kim says:

    Well, this is a fine kettle of fish! At this point it is difficult to ascertain where the truth actually lies. It seems to me that the books of Attawapiskat are under an undue scrutiny, compared with any other jurisdiction, such as municipal, provincial or Federal. I would like for people to step back from the great divide and take a deep breath. No need to burn any bridges here. What does your mayor drive? Who does she sleep with? How relevant is this information?
    If we were to apply this scrutiny to any other jurisdiction, we would find plenty of fodder for the rumourmill. I think we are all on the side here of finding out how to progress as a species and how to save our relations.
    I say this as a human who wishes for progress.

    Like

    • Bella says:

      I don’t want to harp on the Escalade but Attawaspiskat doesn’t have road access to the outside and the community is a small village of 1500 people. The mayor’s mode of transportation is very visible in this unique community. I think we need to keep that at the back of our minds but move on.

      I really like what you are saying, Kim, about finding out how we can progress as a species and save our relations.

      Thank you, Laila, for telling all of the story, or at least what we know so far.

      Like

    • Laila says:

      I agree Kim, that the books here are under scrutiny, and in fact, years ago the community themselves actually asked for a forensic audit – Clayton Kennedy has said please, go ahead and do one now as welll, which is far more than any government level I know of , has ever done. A forensic audit is where the application of accounting methods is used to the track and collect forensic evidence, usually for investigation and prosecution of criminal acts such as embezzlement or fraud.

      http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/01/08/attawapiskat-chief-spences-life-partner-challenges-department-to-launch-forensic-audit-says-band-has-nothing-to-hide/

      They asked for one in 2004 I believe it was, government never did it, they did this audit as detailed above.

      Kim, I disagree. If my mayors husband was the CFO of the city, that would be a conflict. In this small community, even more so, in my opinion. The optics are not good.

      There still has to be accountability. The community can show they have asked for a forensic audit, I don’t think any money has been misappropriated, but I do think there is evidence of sloppy accounting, kind of like our own provincial government this summer, with lack of documentation for expenses…. : )

      Yes, we need to move forward, across the board and not just with this community. If there is any good to come of this attention, let it be that we examine what is failing on all sides.

      There is more than enough evidence in Sheila Frasers report to show what the government has not done, and is not doing and has not fixed. Unsafe water, for Gods sake, come on! That is a basic right of living.

      But Fraser also pointed out , that FN has much work to do too. Accountability all around. The government needs to come up with an action plan to address these failures, on a priority basis of communities in greatest need.

      Like

  17. kellymasterson2012 says:

    Ummm… Hasn’t Attiwapiskat been under co-management with the Federal Government for the last 10 years? So why should an audit be such a surprize to them? And weren’t The Federal government then 50% responsible for any missing ‘paperwork’ ? And they (bureaucrats… politicians…) did nothing in the last 10 years to prevent the situation at Attiwapiskat from deteriorating to it’s current condition? Ummmm…. Is it just me or is someone (s) not doing their jobs very well ?

    https://www.facebook.com/kelly.masterson.5/activity/10151182725802466?comment_id=24463810&ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/photo.php?fbid=10151196282291892&set=a.466185171891.256861.625871891&type=1&theater

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Yes, the link in my comment above has Clayton confirming Co management with BDO for years, then Clayton Kennedy took over.

      In 2011 Aboriginal affairs visited this community over 10 times, saw the conditions, and nothing happened until that state of emergency was called. There are homes in that community sitting empty. Well built homes needing to be finished.

      Like

  18. Gary says:

    Good post! I too have been involved with Native Canadiens up North and also here in the Lower Mainland. You cannot, and should not throw all reservations into the same pot.

    There is one reservation down here where the (Chief) lives in the British Properties, while the others live in the tacked in towels covering the window’s. Drive 5 miles down the road and you have a reserve that has sent their youth to University, integrated into the community, came back and continue to come back, expanded that knowledge into prosperity on the reservation, have created pride in their reservation, rehab came and continues to come from within, guess who the biggest influences and leaders where……women, houses are comparible with some of the better areas of the lower mainland, have expanded their business interests wide and have grown strong from it.

    I have been up North where houses lay derelect, then they burn them down, and the government came in and built them a new one.

    Where’s the motivation in that? Watched the elders hand out beers to 8yr. olds out the back door on a hot Sat. afternoon. A cycle that had to be broken. Total different situation. But within that reservation, change was happening, education was coming, slow, but it was coming, the old way’s were changing. Accountability on both sides of the equation is needed.

    In all area’s.

    Give a white boy big money when he’s young and watch him screw up.
    Give a red boy big money when he’s young and watch him screw up.

    The racisim card is B.S. There are too many people’s on both side of the equation that want to help, want to see change.

    But the Government isn’t exactly leading the charge, and there are Elder’s who aren’t exactly leading the charge.

    But there are red men who have succeeded, and they need to expand their sphere of influence, and their are white men who have to expand their sphere of influence.

    It work’s. I’ve been there and have developed life long relationships and friendships, no matter how long it is between visits.

    Without accountability, there is no motivation, and without any motivation, there is little hope

    . Apologies for length of comment, but it does not even touch all the basis.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Excellent comment, please dont apologize I dont have a limit for comment length : )

      There isn’t much I can add to this one but that I wish everyone felt the same way.

      Like

  19. Trailblazer says:

    Let us NOT forget the the Idle No More campaign is originally from Alberta & was a First Nations reaction to the omnibus bill that will gut the environmental protection of thousands of lakes,rivers & streams.
    I find it extremely unfortunate that Chief Spence has hijacked the movement to fight other issues.
    Whilst I have stood side by side with First Nations protesting such things as the Enbridge pipeline I will not do so for Idle No More.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      This was pointed out to me by several younger FN people on twitter, and I’ve received quite a few emails overnight from some people concerned that Spence and the situation in Attawapiskat is going to detract from what the origins of the movement began as and should continue to be. There is a growing false belief among many watching the situation, that Idle no More is to support Chief Spence – in asking people rather randomly while I was out yesterday, not many people even knew about the omnibus bill being the reason this movement was started.

      The question comes, because while many and most protests have talked about the Bill, many have not – there are so many people posting so many things who all state they are Idle No More supporters, that I fear a lack of focus on the messaging being put out there,is going to adversely impact the movement. Of course, when media makes the movement about Spence, rather than the Bills being protested, it doesnt help, does it?

      Like

  20. harry lawson says:

    you ask whos fault is this?
    the answer is simple it is all of ours.
    shovel money and the problem might go away, tried that and it is still failing.
    hold them accountable nice try we don’t or cant hold our own government accountable
    regretfully the way the first nations problems are managed is a reflection on how we manage our own people who are less fortunate.

    Like

    • Laila says:

      Brilliant comment. The point behind my post above. Having worked the front line, it’s not a pretty place. For a developed nation, we have sooooo far to go and so much to be ashamed of right on our own doorsteps.

      Time for self-examination. But then again, my experience tells me that a hell of a lot of people just dont give a damn Harry. Poverty is an industry in this country.

      One of the most compelling comments I’ve ever read was made by Chief Bill Wilson, in a story that was originally from the Province, in 2009, that I blogged about. Interestingly enough, the article disappeared even from googles cached versions, before the Olympics, but with no apologies, I posted it in its entirety in this post: http://lailayuile.com/2010/02/06/someone-can-write-a-negative-story-by-taking-a-picture-of-someone-in-a-doorwaybut-we-have-some-things-to-celebrate-rich-coleman/

      I encourage you to read the entire article, but here are some excerpts from Chief Bill Wilson that give insight to what was known as the Department of Indian Affairs at the time, in the context of aboriginal people on the DTES and the service providers making money off of them:

      “My recent tour of Skid Row was depressing at best and extremely frustrating at worst. I must admit that, despite the good company of my two companions, I could not wait to escape the horror of the area. My frustration resulted not just from the human carnage that the new drugs have exacerbated but from the simple realization that all of the money spent there and all of the glorious plans announced have made absolutely no difference! Nuts!

      Perhaps the thing that angered me most was the fact that the horror of the Skid Row area fuels a huge industry with no product, just like the Department of Indian Affairs. My friends informed me that at least $1 million is spent down there every day! How can this be, without any visible improvement? Is it because our society really does not care? Is Skid Row just the garbage dump for our living human waste? Out of sight, out of mind?

      ……

      My guides pointed out to me the many “service-delivery” offices and organizations in the area. I was amazed at the number, and these included only those in the six-square-block area. There apparently are five times as many more in the Downtown Eastside, all supposedly ministering to the suffering of Skid Row people. Many of these groups deal with the disproportionate number of aboriginal people there. In fact, there are more groups dealing with aboriginal people there than the number of aboriginal people I saw on my tour that day. My niece provided me with a list of groups and government agencies that numbers in the hundreds. Why so many?

      I really have no idea what all of these groups do. The increased human horror makes it perfectly clear that they do very little. It is so much like the Department of Indian Affairs that it makes me want to puke. I am particularly disgusted with the multiplicity of aboriginal service groups that overlap in their mandates and compete with each other for funding to supposedly serve the same people. Has anyone heard of the “economy of scale?”

      Fact is that the perpetuation of the horror is the foundation of their economy. Failure is actually the real mandate, for without it there would be no need for more money. It is with great disgust that I mention the fact that the Department of Indian Affairs budget this coming fiscal year will exceed $12 billion and yet the living conditions of my people have continued to worsen.”

      ….

      And a comment that was posted really hit home :

      “I am from the Coast Salish Nation, living in the urban enviroment, and as a rule do not believe in the welfare economy and culture that has kept our people down. We certainly have to take responsibility for assisting ourselves and family, and government has a responsibility to work with us. The real issue, is there the politcal willingness to do so? At any rate good on Operation Phoenix for interviewing Chief Bill Wilson, he has done more for off reserve Aboriginal People than anyone in the history of this province.”

      Like

  21. Bella says:

    Someone mentioned the Idle No More movement and its beginnings in Alberta. Actually, it started with four women from Saskatchewan. This morning, I was pleased to hear the women are organizing a meeting of their own this Friday in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, to discuss water, land, sovereignty and treaty relationships.

    “We planned to give voice to grassroots people and chiefs who were not invited to the meeting in Ottawa,” said Sheela McLean, one of the organizers. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/hopes-fade-that-talks-with-pm-will-end-idle-no-more-protests/article7076507/

    These organizers have the smarts; I’m glad to see some attention put back on grassroots.

    Like

  22. Neshaka says:

    Stupid colonial speaking bitch.You don’t know anything about this land,and I suspect that you’ve never set your lily white ass outside of your comfortable home. Get a life.

    Like

    • nonconfidencevote says:

      ahhhh, yes, comments from a rascist half wit

      Like

    • Laila says:

      Actually, I grew up in the north, in a very rural area, among bear and moose. My family hunted and fished, we used the entire animal, nothing went to waste, and we were grateful. We grew our own vegetables in a large garden to make it through long winters, picked berries, we raised chickens and pigs. So please don’t make assumptions – I have a deep connection to the land and this province in particular, that comes from living directly at the whim of it. I know when muskrats build huge houses in the mud that it’s going to likely be a long cold winter and I know what you can and can’t eat to survive in the bush. My family were all immigrants,from Europe. my grandparents survived the holocaust,one of the largest exterminations of a group of people in history. How that makes me a colonial bitch, I’m not sure. This is Canada after all, and aren’t we all allowed to share our views and opinions, so long as they aren’t filled with racist hate?

      I would hope so.

      Like

      • nonconfidencevote says:

        Well I figure it should take “Neshaka” about 24 hrs to comprehend all that has been written. Then another 24 hrs to form a semi intelligent rebuttal.
        All this while surfing the internet, changing the tv channels, heating food in the oven, turning on the dishwasher…….you know, all those “traditional” jobs that were handed down over the generations……..
        :)

        Like

  23. Kim says:

    I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the Auditor (D & T) in this case has been critisized for shoddy accounting in almost half of their audits recently, citing the same problems they accuse Attawapiskat of. It should also be noted that they are employed or contracted by the Conservative Party of Canada, as well as many lucerative Government contracts. I would take their results with a grain of salt.

    http://www.jrdeputyaccountant.com/2009/09/canadian-deloitte-partner-fined-235k.html

    Like

  24. Bella says:

    Sigh of relief. Mucking around in some forums from 2011, I read that the luxury SUV belongs to Chief Spence’s husband.

    Like

  25. Laila says:

    I’m in the wrong line of work, clearly : )

    Like

  26. FredT says:

    The majority of media reports I read, reported a vast amount of the topics that are raging across our country. But what has fueled the fire is the Indians demanding and expecting more monies after their mismanagment of the millions they have already received. Chief Spence’s hunger protest has only brought more attention to their plight and the corrupt system they live in. Nothing is going to change untill the white man’s welfare hand outs stop, the aboriginals stop acting like Indians,and they assimulate with “all” cultures in this country that are treated as equals. Chief Clarence Louie from Osoyoos, BC is on the right page. He is a visionary.

    The sad thing about this is, that this is getting a way more attention than Harper selling us out to the Chinese in the Nexen oil asset/resource take over. Think about it. Feeding the sleeping giant the energy they need to reach the world domination they are striving for. Think about Monsanto controling and profiting from our geniticaly modified food chain. I could go on and on.

    We as humans have to stand together. Not divided apart.

    Our natives have to let go of the belief that we stoled their land hundreds of years ago. When the white man came here to North America, they did so as what was being done to all continents on this planet thousands of years before hand and up to that point in time. Do all cultures around the world, go back and demand back what was taken from them hundreds or thousands of years ago? I didn’t sign any agreement with these peoples. I don’t have a proplem with them assimulating into the culture we live in. But it seems to me that they have the proplem. The chiefs are a small minority within their circle that bully and set fear within their own. And they are also doing it to the bleeding hearts of society, another minority that the media gives attention to, that beat the drums they are told to beat.

    It’s not hard to get caught up in this. It’s much harder to find a solution and make it work. The government is the government and they will do what we let them do, as we have done over the last 100 years or so. I think instead of sitting here typing and getting our frustrations out on the net, let’s have 250,000 people or more in each major city in the country take 2 days off work and protest, “PEACEFULLY” down our main streets and demand changes. The government likes us beckering amongst ourselves while they complete their agendas. It’s what they do.

    Like

  27. Laila says:

    “tagg” – Your disgusting, racist remark had been held in moderation and reported.Don’t come back here and comment, on anything, again. I think your head needs some bashing.

    I am very sorry to any readers who might have read that crap before I could delete it this morning. He has been blocked from commenting here.

    Like

  28. Bella says:

    Great post on Galloping Beaver today: http://thegallopingbeaver.blogspot.ca/2013/01/do-not-disturb.html

    I’m sorry I ever doubted Theresa Spence. After those useless Ottawa meetings, her sincerity is obvious. I’m really frightened now that she will persevere and she will die. What can we do?????

    Like

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