Well, lucky Canada. Well done. Heading into the next federal election, the government will have some cash to throw around, to salt the clouds, so to speak, grease some palms. All those dollars that haven’t gone to educate First Nations kids, keep them protected and from harm, all those dollars that didn’t fix the crumbling infrastructure on reserve, kept people in moldy, tumble-down homes, didn’t provide potable water, it’s there now to sprinkle over the electorate like fairy dust, pushing the gaps between First World Canada and Third World Indigenous Nations further and further apart for years to come.
What a proud day Joe Oliver, Mr. Finance Minister. How proud you must have been to stand before the well-heeled crowd of the Canadian Club to crow about the surpluses your government anticipates in the coming years. Never mind that you gutted programs for Aboriginal families to put your books in order. Never mind that paying down Canada’s debt is being done on the backs of Indigenous people. What a legacy, nonetheless. YepÖ a real legacy.
What a mess Canada has pushed off into the unknown future. What potential you have squandered. Yet this has been the hallmark of this government; ruthless sacrifice of those who have nothing, the dispossessed, deprivation of the already deprived. This is what has passed for vision, achievement, accomplishment with this government. Bravo. Quite the resume.
“Significant reallocations from infrastructure to other programs have occurred over the past six years,” says a June 2013 document that was filed as part of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to get Aboriginal children in care some equity in funding from the federal government.
“For example, AANDC has reallocated approximately $505-million in infrastructure dollars to social, education and other programs to try to fill the shortfall in these areas. “Since infrastructure was not able to cover off all of social and education needs in each year, other internal resources were used to cover off the remaining shortfall.
“This ongoing reallocation is putting pressure on an already strained infrastructure program and has still not been enough to adequately meet the needs of social and education programs.”
Yes, the Conservatives have done quite the job over their years in power. Let them stand on their record of fiscal prudence, but we all know the truth. What they have really done is borrow heavily from future generations, specifically generations of Indigenous people, to edge into the black for 2015. Such a cynical activity. Such a cynical attitude. Such a disservice to us all.
The Conservative federal government under Stephen Harper will go down in history as the single-most uninspired government ever, without passion for leaving any kind of legacy beyond building pipelines. Think of the bright times of this government and you won’t see any brilliance. All you’ll see is a drab, dull, grey and miserly winter we’ve all been in since February 2006.
We’d like to take this space to send our thoughts and prayers out to Rinelle Harper and her family. Many of us at Windspeaker have children, grandchildren Rinelle’s age and our hearts exploded in pain when we heard of the assault on her. We can only imagine the nightmare she is living. The brutality endured by this 16-year-old child should make the blood boil in every Canadian. Let us say clearly, no child, no woman, no man should ever have to experience such violation.
And yet, in Canada, in this shiny part of the world where such events should be as rare as hen’s teeth, we come face to face with our ugly reality. Such viciousness is all too common here, and more likely to occur against our people.
At what point does this federal government stop looking away and help us protect Indigenous women and girls by committing to an inquiry into the systemic issues that adversely impact Aboriginal people in Canada.
By the lack of response from the federal government, we can only conclude that racism is at the root of inaction. First Nations people are throw away, it would seem.
“What is it that is so feared about a national inquiry into the murdered and missing women,” asked Rose Laboucan, chief of the Driftpile Cree Nation in northern Alberta. “What is it that people fear is going to be found?” she asked.
Perhaps what’s going to be found is that government has failed monumentally on so many fronts that it is overwhelming to comprehend; that by not stepping up to the plate with enthusiasm and vision, to right the wrongs of the past and move with conviction into a future of reconciliation, we are faced with the horror that Renelle and other young women have had to endure.
This has to be corrected. Now.