Attawapiskat

CP

Media Bites: Chief Spence, Your 15 Minutes Are Up

What makes this sideshow all the more embarrassing is that there's been a complete breakdown in the Chief's relationship with the one independent agency whose power actually does matter -- the press. The indifferent contempt in which she has so consistently held the press is beginning to return in kind. You can almost hear her 15 minutes ticking away. To put it bluntly, you can't just do this.
CP

Idle No More: First Nations Governance Coded To Fail

The Deloitte & Touche audit of Attawapiskat is a textbook outcome of the fatal weakness in Canada's current model of First Nations governance, which is coded to fail. There could be hundreds of Attawapiskats. Does anyone know what the average First Nations chief's level of training and management experience is? Or the average training and experience of band councillors? How many building inspectors live within 50 miles of Attawapiskat? How about CAs, CGAs or project managers capable of supervising and maintaining records on multiple construction sites?
CP

Inside Attawapiskat's Financial Woes

An audit of the financial records of the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve has raised questions about the situation on the northern Ontario reserve and about its leader, Chief Theresa Spence, who has...
CP

What Idle No More Should Really Be Protesting

In the wake of the Idle No More protests that have blocked railway lines and have hinted at more mischief, multiple grievances have been advanced in place of clear-headed analyses. But none of the slogans, clichés and guilt-tripping get to the bottom of why some aboriginals, especially on reserves, are in a sorry state. Fundamental problems with how reserves are run — and the unsustainable nature of some of those rural collectives — is what protesters should ponder.
CP

Don't Be Fooled By Chief Spence's Circus

What we have here is a woman who bemoans the impoverished nature of her reserve while she is partly to blame for it; a woman who has the ability to make things better, but won't because not everyone has RSVP'd to her invitation. What was once a justified pursuit to better the pitiful lives of the disenfranchised in First Nations communities has become a circus in which there is no possibility of dialogue unless every single demand is met. Spence is not a symbol to be admired. She is but one of the myriad reasons why First Nation communities exist in the sad way that they do, and it's time for her to go.
CP

This Land Was Their Land

The issues Chief Spence is raising -- terrible living conditions, deep neglect, poverty and powerlessness -- will not go away, and will not disappear in the face of attack. They are the shame of our nation and must be addressed. But the Conservatives have rejected replacing the Indian Act with a real transfer of power, and the implementation of the self government agreements which all Canadian governments agreed to in Charlottetown 20 years ago. They have offered nothing that even begins to address the issues. We shall all pay a heavy price for this lack of leadership.
PC

How Harper's Neglect Suffocates Native Potential

The Harper Conservatives' lack of consultation with First Nations represents a dangerous narrow-mindedness. The same goes for the government's neglect of environmental protection. It is time to idle no more. It is time to speak out, for First Nations, and for Canadians as a whole.
CP

#IdleNoMore: A Movement of Platitudes?

What are the specific demands of the #IdleNoMore movement? Chief Spence has said that her strike is ultimately about "respect." What specifics are the Idle No More movement looking to change? Repeal of Bill C-45? Removal of the Indian Act? Platitudes about "respect" require detail unless you are Aretha Franklin. Conditions for Aboriginals in our country must improve and the status quo is unacceptable. But #IdleNoMore has a temporary momentum, and unless it answers three basic questions it has a very real expiry date.
CP

End Hunger Strike, B.C. Chief Urges

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A First Nations leader from British Columbia is urging a northern Ontario chief to end her hunger strike aimed at winning a meeting with the prime minister and drawing attention to ab...
CP

Idle No More: A Gift to Canadians

I woke up just past midnight with a bolt. My six-month-old son was crying. He has a cold -- the second of his short life -- and his blocked nose frightens him. I was about to get up when he started snoring again. I, on the other hand, was wide awake. A single thought entered my head: Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. Her hunger is not just speaking to Stephen Harper. It is also speaking to all of us, telling us that the time for bitching and moaning is over. Now is the time to act, to stand strong and unbending for the people, places and principles that we love.
CP

Hunger-Striking Chief Gets A Boost

OTTAWA - An aboriginal chief's decision to go on a hunger strike until the prime minister agrees to a meeting has entered a deadly serious phase, a New Democrat MP said Thursday.Charlie Angus, who sto...
CP

Harper: Act Now Before Chief Theresa Spence Dies

Chief Theresa Spence hasn't eaten in over 11 days. The weather has taken a big turn for the worse and her tent home on Victoria Island is far from ideal. This was a serious business and she told me she wasn't backing down. I knew then I was watching the beginning of a revolution. Chief Spence has put her life on the line. This is not a game. This is not a stunt. Every day that Mr. Harper tries to wait out the crisis, the stakes rise higher. Mr. Harper has a very short window to show leadership. He needs to come the table and begin to address the issues that have driven so many First Nation communities into poverty and despair.
CP

Watching the Watchdog: This Aboriginal Revolt is For Real

Canada is guilty of one of the most elemental colonial sins: trying to destroy aboriginal culture and assimilate aboriginal people. That's why Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike matters. This time, our first peoples won't be placated with an apology in parliament, This time, the revolt is for real.

Behind the Headlines: Why Chief Theresa Spence Is Hunger Striking

The story behind the headline is that Chief Spence's hunger strike is not simply about the appalling conditions her people continue to face. Spence is one of many aboriginal leaders looking for a way to express her frustration with the Government of Canada passing laws that affect their lives and land, as well as violating treaty rights without involving them in any of the decision making.
CP

What Chief Spence's Hunger Strike Says About Canada

"I'm willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what (it's) doing to us." We should all be ashamed that these words were uttered in Canada, and that a First Nation leader has put her life on the line to be heard. A hunger strike in Canada is a sign of imperfect democracy.
Blaire Russell

Why Aboriginal Frustration Is Boiling Over

Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat started a hunger strike this week -- "I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what it's doing to us." The frustration of Aboriginal Peoples is understandable given the complete lack of progress on their issues and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with them on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights. The outrage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is not only understandable, but justified.
CP

Smoke Traders and the Story of Native Poverty

Waiting, waiting and waiting for promises of a better life built the Native Tobacco industry. The taste of success and finical independence lead to the growth of this business. Many don't want this way of life but circumstances have led many to this profession.
CP

Attawapiskat Neighbour In Dire Straits

OTTAWA - A year after the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat jarred the country's conscience with its deplorable housing conditions, the reserve next door has only narrowly averted a similar c...
HuffPost Canada

HuffPost Canada Rocks COPA Awards!

Last night I stood in the kind of hip club space I haven't visited since my 20s, jammed with nominees for the annual Canadian Online Publishing Awards. That spirit of course imbues our own upstart site here at HuffPost Canada, which was nominated for no fewer than eight awards. You can imagine how proud I was, as the former Managing Editor of Blogs here, to see our talented writers walk away with both the Gold and Silver awards for Best Blog in the daily and weekly newspapers, and broadcasters category.
CP

On the Anniversary of Attawapiskat, One Film Tells the Real Story

This week will mark the first anniversary since Attawawpiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency over the abysmal housing situation on the James Bay coast. Footage of the living conditions in this isolated community shocked Canadians and resulted in a media firestorm. The crisis became a cultural Pandora's box that unleashed numerous issues and misconceptions regarding our relationship with Canada's First Peoples. Now on the eve of this dark anniversary, Canada's "Katrina" moment has made it to the big screen. And who better equipped to tell the real story of the 2011-housing crisis than iconic filmmaker Alanis Obamsawin?
CP

LETTER TO JOHN DUNCAN: Why Did You Kill Badly Needed Housing in Attawapiskat?

We are disturbed that in the days following a Federal Court decision you refused to provide a ministerial guarantee to support a plan to build 30 new duplexes in Attawapiskat through rents established at market rates. Thirty new units would have gone a long way towards alleviating the serious levels of overcrowding in the community. As the band had already been approved by CMHC, your role was simply to sign a ministerial guarantee. This was not a hand-out but a forward-looking plan that to provide safe housing for families who are living in very precarious conditions.
CP

Attawapiskat didn't Mismanage Funds, Harper -- You Did

Federal court ruled Wednesday morning the that the Conservative government's response to the crisis in Attawapiskat was unreasonable and failed to look at any remedy other than the appointment of a Third Party Manager. Rather that own up to their mistake the Conservative government says it is "disappointed" with the decision. What will it take for this government to take responsibility for its own incompetence? The Conservative government must work with First Nations to find solutions rather than simply trying to deflect blame for their own failures.

The Truth Is, Attawapiskat Was Never Financially Mismanaged

On August 1, the Federal Court released its judicial review of the appointment of a Third Party Manager in Attawapiskat. Over and over again, the Federal Court states that financial mismanagement was not the issue, and never had been. The fact that the public dialogue about Attawapiskat was almost wholly concerned with allegations of such mismanagement, demonstrates just how intensely events can become hijacked by misunderstandings.
CP — The Attawapiskat First Nation declared an emergency in October, 2011, because 25 families were living in housing too flimsy to face the harsh winter. The story made national headlines after a HuffPost Canada blog about the crisis by NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose rising includes Attawapiskat, went viral. In response, the Red Cross raised $300,000 from Canadian donors and flew in emergency supplies for families in the most precarious conditions. Federal and provincial emergency officials are refitting a local healing centre as a temporary shelter for the winter. And the federal government has purchased 22 new modular houses, with the hope that they'll be in place later this winter. At the same time, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused the band of mismanaging federal money and not producing adequate results for the $90 million transferred to the community over five years. He has ordered a full audit and placed administration of the band's finances in the hands of a third-party manager — a decision that angered band leaders and sparked a legal fight. - With a file from The Huffington Post