As you boot up your computer bleary-eyed this morning, groping about for your cup of coffee, I'm going to be that peppy friend across the table who is just so GOSH DARN EXCITED it's the new year! And do you know WHY I'm so excited?! (C'mon ask me, ask me!!)
Because it's the first new year you can start your day with The Huffington Post CANADA. YES! How sweet is that, eh? Canada news, Canada blogs, Canada celebs, Canada style, cute Canadian kitties on YouTube...
Attawapiskat is the portmanteau of Canadian blame, and the longer this continues the more neurotic, blame-happy and internationally noticed Canada becomes for all of this. We are a nation that says sorry with saccharine regularity but we balance this with a love of blame.
We are now two months into the crisis. Temperatures have dropped well below -20 Celsius. If it had not been for the work of the Red Cross, people may have died. And yet, Christmas will come with families still living in tents and sheds. This is completely unacceptable.
No proof is offered to support the assertion that she is hiding anything at all, it is merely seen as obvious. The question people should be asking if they are honestly interested is, "Why is Chief Spence rejecting third-party management?"
If Attawapiskat wants the continued support of the public over an extended period of time, it has to show that they are managing funds effectively. But in the meantime, who is helping the people who need housing now? Fight it out in court and do your audits after you take care of the emergency.
Chief Spence wants no outside interference -- just more money and no questions asked or controls demanded. If any non-Aboriginal community were run the way Attawapiskat was run, there'd be a revolt among residents -- and the feds would long ago have cut off funding.
Given the Harper government's frequent pronouncements about how they have "heavily invested" in Attawapiskat, I'm sure some of you are puzzled about its third-world conditions. I've decided to place Harper's communications department under third-party management until all of the facts are sorted out.
Reading the news coverage on Attawapiskat doesn't feel very healthy sometimes. There are so many racist rants and outright ignorant responses that it can bog you down. Where do you even begin? Well, you can try to answer questions with facts. Here are some of those facts, if you're interested.
The Indian Act -- an arcane law of our Parliament as old as Canada itself that institutionalizes apartheid on our soil -- makes it impossible for Ottawa's paternalistic iron grip of dependency to be loosened. Making action more difficult are the few Aboriginal "leaders" that make a very healthy living off the status quo and don't want to change it.
On the other side of the same bay from Attawapiskat, their Cree cousins are not living in the same squalor. It can happen elsewhere. There are solutions. Working in the original spirit of partnership, supported rather than constrained in self-governance, First Nations can move forward.
Attawapiskat is Canada's Katrina moment. It may not be the same scale, but it is the tip of the iceberg for the numerous Bantustan-style homelands of the far north. Years of chronic under funding and bureaucratic indifference has created a Haiti north where dying in slow motion on ice-filled shantytown is considered the norm.
There will be lots of individuals and government officials or departments that we can point to and blame for the third-world living conditions on our reserves. But in the end we need to turn our finger inward and point at ourselves.
What this is about is distance. A distant bureaucracy from a distant culture imposing baffling edicts and regulations on a group of people who were highly self-sufficient hunters and trappers for thousands of years before they wandered into the quicksand of the Indian Act.
It's been an extraordinary week here at Huffingtonpost.ca: After only six months online, we've just seen a huge surge of traffic that should cause other Canadian news sites to start watching their backs. This past Monday, our news team launched an important series about rising income inequality in Canada: Mind The Gap.
While that series led the news, MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) posted an extraordinary and wrenching account of human conditions at the Attawapiskat First Nation community on the James Bay coast.
And I posted a blog of my own that drew an unexpected amount of international traffic. Suffice to say it involved vodka, tampons, teenagers, and a ridiculous urban myth I was determined to prove wrong. No one can now say I won't do anything for a story -- or a drink.
The Red Cross will help address many of the short-term problems facing the community, however, this disaster wasn't an accident of nature. It was the direct result of the failure of the federal and provincial government to work with the community. This problem remains.