However, as one person I only have so much time to do more things than I could finish in a lifetime. Currently, I am working on a journal article that will be published this fall on the pre-mature deaths of First Nations caused by the crisis of poverty created and maintained by Canada. This article is taking me much longer to write than usual because of the subject matter.
As I type the words on each page, my heart gets heavier and heavier until I cannot hold my feelings anymore and have to walk away from the paper. Sometimes, when I am referring to very specific examples, stories of specific communities and individuals, I can't help but cry. I am not crying for me, but for our Indigenous brothers and sisters who are denied their very lives by all the discriminatory laws, policies, and barriers imposed on First Nations by Canada.
Often times we hear these words so often from our leaders and various advocacy organizations that the public hears it only as rhetoric - an exaggeration of the actual situation in First Nations. Any publicity about a crisis in one of our communities is quickly downplayed by allegations of corruption or mis-spending in another. We are often blamed for the ill effects of colonization and systemic racism.
Canada has perfected the ability to "defer, deflect and deny" the fact of First Nations dying by poverty. Creating these situations of life and death make "negotiations" about our Aboriginal and treaty rights and land claims much easier. We are so far from an equal bargaining position with Canada that any agreement arrived at today should be challenged as an imprudent bargain.
This is what I am writing about in my article. This is the reason why I haven't been able to post any blogs lately or update my website (which is in desperate need of an update). Here is an excerpt from my article that I am working on:
However, it is not just the federal government’s own offices and agencies that have noted Canada’s lack of action on First Nation poverty and discrimination. The Ontario coroner’s report referred to earlier clearly linked the extreme poverty in Pikangikum First Nation to the high suicide rates among their children:
What health care residents do receive is “fragmented, chaotic and uncoordinated” with “clear gaps in service”. Their school burnt down in 2007 and has never been replaced despite empty promises by INAC to do so. The significant funding disparities that exist between First Nation and Canadian students means that the students who are the most disadvantaged and have the greatest needs, receive the least. A community of only 2400 people has 200 child welfare files open with 80 children in care. Due to the lack of housing and the high levels of overcrowding, these children are sent to foster homes far away from their communities. Should anyone be surprised by the fact that 16 children between the ages of 10-19 took their own lives between 2006 and 2008? Under the Criminal Code of Canada, section 318(2)(b) defines genocide as:
(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.
At what point does Canada’s denial of the problem equate with a de facto policy of genocide?
As always, I welcome any comments or feedback you may have about any of my blogs. For the next little while however, there may be delays in my response so that I can finish this article.