The federal government should be ashamed. After taking the Kashechewan people on a roller coaster ride that has resulted in a game of aquatic Russian roulette and disease, is death far behind?

For those who don’t have television, internet, radio or a pulse, the community of Kashechewan on the west coast of James Bay is in trouble.

Residents have been complaining of scabies, chronic diarrhea and fever for years. Two years ago Health Canada issued an advisory telling them to boil their water at all costs.

Now they know why – deadly amounts of E. coli have leaked into their water supply via 19th century planning by the Canadian government. Their unkempt water treatment facility is located downstream from a sewage plant. Add to this the government’s failure to clean up the dangerous waste left at abandoned radar sites across the region and you have the Native version of Walkerton.

And, I should add, the only reason this is even an issue is thanks to the media. Otherwise it would have continued to be ignored.

Why did it take the federal government so long to react? It’s hard not to play the race card here. I mean we all remember Walkerton and the fiasco they had with their water supply and it didn’t take the government two years to look into it.

Was it because they were upstanding, tax-paying white citizens? It sure looks that way.

The band council released photos of locals with lesions, boils on the faces of infants and of other skin irregularities that cannot be explained – until now.

Approximately 1000 of the 1,700 residents are directly affected in different ways and have been evacuated to Cochrane, Timmins, Ottawa and Sudbury.

Make no mistake, this and many other Native stories like it are Canada’s dirty little secret; one they try to ignore for as long as they can until they have no choice but to deal with it thanks to country-wide pressure.

Andy Scott, federal Indian Affairs Minister, was quoted as saying, “We had to get them out of the dyke. That’s what we’ve been working on since August and the community is now finally once and for all going to live the way the rest of Canada lives and that’s the right thing for these people.”

That’s the right thing for “these people”?

That sounds like BS to me.

In 2005 in what is supposed to be a developed country like Canada, proper water to drink and bathe in is a basic right.

And why were they not evacuated earlier Andy?

It seems that the old, colonialist attitude has reared its ugly head once again. Why didn’t Scott include complimentary pox-infected blankets to appease the locals?

Appearing on CTV’s Canada AM, Scott made the triumphant announcement that the community will be moved to a better location, on higher ground, less prone to flooding and despair.

That’s all fine and dandy, but who do you think forced the nomadic Crees onto this decrepit piece of land in the first place?

The federal government should be called to task for its wanton disregard of human life. Charges were laid against the manager of the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission when the E. coli disaster hit in the Ontario town in 2000. They included endangering the public and breach of trust.

Add those charges plus a seven-digit dollar fine for the ones responsible in the Kashechewan case and now we’re talking.

“The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” a racist actor once said. My question is what is a sickly, disease-riddled Indian worth?