Budget 2017 is all about strengthening the middle class, strengthening their access to services, but what gets lost in the numbers and system is that indigenous youth have the least access to these services and do receive equitable funding as compared to any other young Canadian.
I contend that the decades of poverty, the murder of more than 1,000 women, the many youth suicides, and the general degradation of a race of people deserve equal attention to the aid and love being bestowed on Fort McMurray. Why is one crisis receiving massive support while another is getting little attention?
"The greatest resource we have in this country is not the gold and it is not the oil."
"I wanted to give up on life. But now, I know that it shouldn't be that way. I'm slowly learning about life and taking it day by day."
The state of emergency was declared on Oct. 28, 2011, by Attawapiskat's new chief, Theresa Spence. I had known her through her work on council. She didn't strike me as a firebrand or overly political. She was worried that, as the arctic winter descended on the community, people in these makeshift quarters could die. Days turned into weeks, and the temperature kept dropping. Officials from the regional office of Aboriginal Affairs spoke with the community about advancing some money to repair some of the condemned houses, but there was no offer to help get the families out of the tents and shacks.
This week will mark the first anniversary since Attawawpiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency over the abysmal housing situation on the James Bay coast. Footage of the living conditions in this isolated community shocked Canadians and resulted in a media firestorm. The crisis became a cultural Pandora's box that unleashed numerous issues and misconceptions regarding our relationship with Canada's First Peoples. Now on the eve of this dark anniversary, Canada's "Katrina" moment has made it to the big screen. And who better equipped to tell the real story of the 2011-housing crisis than iconic filmmaker Alanis Obamsawin?
With respect to those who suggest we henceforth do without the British Monarchy, there wouldn't be a Canada without the British Monarchy. This trumps everything as regards this debate. We have real problems in Canada at the moment -- and the British Monarchy isn't one of them.
We are now two months into the crisis. Temperatures have dropped well below -20 Celsius. If it had not been for the work of the Red Cross, people may have died. And yet, Christmas will come with families still living in tents and sheds. This is completely unacceptable.
If Attawapiskat wants the continued support of the public over an extended period of time, it has to show that they are managing funds effectively. But in the meantime, who is helping the people who need housing now? Fight it out in court and do your audits after you take care of the emergency.
Given the Harper government's frequent pronouncements about how they have "heavily invested" in Attawapiskat, I'm sure some of you are puzzled about its third-world conditions. I've decided to place Harper's communications department under third-party management until all of the facts are sorted out.