Shame on Canada! Shame on us all!

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan tells an outright lie in this chance encounter on the stairs at the CBC. As if that is not bad enough, the Minister goes on to blame the MP for that area, Charlie Angus, for not informing him of the issue!  Those who follow politics, particularly the issues of First Nations communities and human rights issues, know that Charlie Angus is the guy who’s been working his ass off on this file for YEARS!

A quick search of the Google News archives reveals almost 100 instances of Mr. Angus speaking about the situation at Attawapiskat!  This includes a Hamilton Spectator story from 2005 where Mr. Angus references issues with Indian Affairs’ “boxing in” the people of Attawapiskat. And, in the scrum, Mr. Angus rattles off several instances of his attention on the growing crisis, going back to 2007.

I think Charlie is right.  This is a “willful, hard-working level of incompetence” leading to deaths, by the Government of Canada and, thereby, the People of Canada.  Shame on us for allowing this institutionalized racism to carry on for far too long!

Resources re: Attawapiskat

Trying to sort through the muck the HarperCons are spinning around the humanitarian crisis on the Attawapiskat First Nation and First Nations communities across the country?  Well, here are two important resources.

The first is a blog, âpihtawikosisân, in which the writer unravels the HarperCons’ racist spin, including a breakdown of that $90 million the dishonourable PM spoke of in the House of Commons.

The second, shared with permission, comes from Dr. Neal McLeod, a Poet and writer I met several years ago when he lived in SK.  This is his most excellent open letter to the Right Honourable (sic) Stephen Harper:

An open letter to Stephen Harper regarding the situation in Attawapiskat (from Dr. Neal McLeod)

by Neal McLeod on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 07:45

November 30, 2011

An open letter to Stephen Harper regarding the situation in Attawapiskat

Prime Minister Harper:

Today it was announced that the community of Attawapiskat will be placed under Third Party Management. It seems more than a coincidence that once an Indigenous community speaks out and up about the difficult housing conditions, they are then penalized in a draconian manner by your government. It reflects poorly on Canada that the Red Cross was called in to assist.

kâ-kânâtâ-askiy (Canada) is a rich country. There are many resources at the disposal of the country to assist in the daily lives of Indigenous people. In turn, with the large diamond mine in the area of this community’s traditional territory, this point resonates even more so.

Rather than assess the situation thoroughly, your government simply declares unilaterally that a Third Party Management regime will be established- a move from the co-management structure that had been in place.

It is of the highest order of hypocrisy that that the government stages a military celebration and honouring in relation to recent deployment in Libya. Presumably, this was done to honour the soldiers, which is always a dignified thing to do, but presumably it was also done to signal a triumph for the people of Libya, in terms of having the freedom to live their lives in peace and security- which is of course something to celebrate.

However, why is the freedom and dignity of Indigenous people not held to the same measure and degree in Attawapiskat? Why does your government have no hesitation in sending aid to other countries and peoples throughout the world, yet within its own borders, instead of helping Indigenous people in need, blames them vis-à-vis the establishment of a Third Party regime?

My late grandfather (mosôm), John R. McLeod served in the Canadian army in World War II. He often spoke of the hypocrisy of Canada fighting for freedom for other people abroad, yet Indigenous people had little freedom in their homelands in Canada. It seems that without proper housing and basic living necessities of life, the Cree of Attawapiskat cannot have true freedom , and their basic dignity as human beings will be diminished. It seems, that despite the many decades since my grandfather was a soldier, the fundamental paradox of freedom still permeates the country of Canada at its core.

The measure of any country rests in how it treats those citizens most in need. It seems on this score, in relation to the Cree people of Attawapiskat, your government has failed in a dramatic fashion. Your government acts without honour, and hides behind political sleights of hand such as “third party management.” Instead of blaming the people of Attawapiskat, your government should be working with the Cree people of this community to creatively find solutions.

My great-grandfather câpân, Able McLeod was part of the League of Indians. This grass roots political movement sought social justice for Indigenous people. I have no doubt that they would have done everything they could to assist the Cree people of Attawapiskat. The words, dreams, and honour of my great-grandfather Able McLeod linger in my heart. I am compelled to write this letter to voice the social justice that lingers.

You have a choice. You can continue to engage in a blame the victim discourse, or, you could move towards a discourse and action of honour, and move towards move towards assisting the people of Attawapiskat have basic dignity in their lives. Your choice will speak to the moral foundation of this country.

Sincerely,

Dr. Neal McLeod

*mailed on November 30, 2011

the regina mom encourages you to write your own letters to the PM <pm@pm.gc.ca>.

ADDENDUM:  Please feel free to add links to additional resources in the comments section.

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