Attawapiskat Reserve – Fourth World Conditions in Canada

Boy from the Attawapiskat Reserve
Boy from the Attawapiskat Reserve

There are severe problems on the Attawapiskat Reserve. Problems that both the Canadian Federal and Ontario Provincial governments haven’t addressed. Problems that they don’t really seem to even care about.

For those who don’t know what the situation is in Canada, when the European powers sent settlers to North America, the original natives lost their ancestral lands. In Canada the tribes are known as the First Nations.

On October 28, 2011, the Attawapiskat First Nation declared a State of Emergency. Most people are familiar with the botched response by the United States Government to Hurricane Katrina.

At least the American Government responded in less than three weeks. Seriously. Three weeks after the State of Emergency declaration, NOTHING had happened.

So Charlie Angus, the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay wrote an article in the Huffington Post on November 21, 2011, twenty-four days after declaration of the State of Emergency.

Disclosure – while I have never meet Charlie Angus, I have met his wife and family. My Mother-In-Law, Ann Margetson, the Poet Laureate of the Temiskaming District knows Charlie and his family. Many other family members and friends who live in the area also know Charlie and his family. So I can’t claim I’m a disinterested third-party. Everyone Charlie and I know in common who I’ve talked to thinks that Charlie Angus is a wonderful guy. When this many people think something, even a cynical old bastard like myself tends to believe it.

By writing for the Huffington Post, Charlie has started a firestorm. If Charlie had written for the Ottawa Citizen, National Post, Toronto Star, or any other Canadian paper, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

The Huffington Post has an international readership. Can we say major international embarrassment? Yes we can.

No Government likes being embarrassed. The Conservative Party of Canada has an allergy to embarrassment. They are so allergic to it that their response was to place the Attawapiskat First Nation under Third Party Financial Management, claiming Indian Affairs had supplied the First Nation $90,000,000.00 Canadian.

When asked, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence responded, “What will they investigate?… The money we get, 80 per cent goes to education and 20 per cent goes to the services that we need in our community.”

Meanwhile The Canadian Red Cross is responding within their limits. The Red Cross can’t build the needed houses, but they can deliver winter weight sleeping bags, chemical toilets, and other interim fixes.

Watch the ten minute video to see conditions for yourself

The Conservatives aren’t totally at fault. The same sorts of conditions existed when the Liberals were running the country before.

The problem is that we have parties blinded by ideology. The Natives have become a social underclass that politicians ignore, except when they want to cut the amount of money spent on the First Nations, so that they can cut corporate taxes.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives get large donations from the corporate sector. I favor making corporate political donations illegal. Corporations can’t vote. They should be barred from making political donations.

Both parties are famous for working on projects to make things better for the natives, and somehow never finishing them. We can’t afford to have that happen. Canada needs educated, articulate young people. Many reserves don’t have schools, and the reserves schools that do exist are underfunded, undermaintained, and a disgrace to the country.

Canada must do right by its First Nations. The money is readily available. Dump Bill C10. The Government of Texas warned you it was a bad use of money, and wouldn’t make Canada any safer. Then use the money for building prisons to fix the Reserves.


Wayne Borean

Thursday November 30, 2011


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