It all seems so funny sometimes, the ideas the ideas you get as the xmas seasons approaches. Stringent fiscal rules apply to Natives and their governments. If a Band Council goes beyond an 8 per cent deficit then its third party management time and the feds step in grinning. Meanwhile Toronto and other non-Native communities operate at 25 per cent plus and seem to have no problem with the federal machine.
Ontario merchants will accept a Crees Indian card and allow them tax exemption from sales tax. They’ll do the same for any card carrying member of the reserve crowd. Quebec salespeople in Montreal and other places on the other hand will not accept Cree Indian Status cards. A Montreal saleswoman recently told a Cree that they only accept them if they are Mohawk. My first thought was “those bastards” but then I realized that it wasn’t the Mohawks fault. They weren’t trying to take off with all the rights. The decision to exclude Crees (and perhaps other natives who are non-Mohawk) had to come from some place else. Either at some retail upper management level or from Quebec itself. I guess that new relationship hasn’t straightened out all the kinks and problems are always going to be there. Of course the Feds were trying to get into the act by telling Cree negotiators that in order to fulfill their obligations on the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement they wanted a little more. They wanted Crees to give up their tax exempt status. So implementation is on hold and programs suffer. Often I have wondered where all the money they saved by not implementing the Agreement has went.
Hell, I guess we need something for the high priced negotiators and consultants to do and sitting around making deals in slowtime keeps them working. Can’t have them just sitting around too long though, time is money.
Speaking of money, I loved the flack of National Grand Chief Phil Fountaine asking for $300,000 to renovate his offices. The press leaped on that like a pack of starving dogs pointing out the offices were renovated when Coon Come held that seat.
Let’s be fair to the man and look at where he is. He’s in fat cat city where elected members of parliament get a huge lifetime pension after serving for six years. Where a Governor General can spend over a million dollars on a single trip ($1.3M to Argentina and Chile, $1.2M to Germany and Bosnia and $1.2M to Russia). She also spent $100,000 just on the kitchen when she moved into her new digs.
Meanwhile some Natives still live in overcrowded, unheated shacks with no running water. Not all but enough. Housing for Natives has been a crisis for as long as I can remember. Housing is always overcrowded and sometimes dangerous with fungus and mold in the walls of even the “richer” communities. Dangerous diseases – diabetes, tuberculosis, whooping cough – are a part of the life of Native communities with inadequate medical facilities and personal.
The World Health Organization has ranked the health and social conditions of on-reserve natives in Canada 63rd in the world – below that of Mexico and Thailand.
You see high unemployment rates, high suicide rates. It is no longer a surprise for the international community to see the United Nations condemn Canada for the “gross disparity” that persists between native people and other Canadians.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission wrote that the dilemma of Native peoples in Canada is a national tragedy. They have said this every year in the 1990’s.
So moneys important and it is squandered on a scale that is to not to be believed leaving us with only one option. Whether you are Cree, Indian or non-Native, it will come down to one thing this year for Christmas. Regular people will have to fill up the food banks. Those in the Federal and Provincial levels of Native and non-Native governments will continue to play their games with money and leave us to take care of those around us.
The reason why I writing this now is that more and more people need the food banks. The rates have gone up year after year faster than assistance is coming in. Start a little early this year to help out because it’s needed. If you are a food bank out there, give us a call and we’ll put in the address where people can drop off their donations. Tell what is needed and good luck to all.