Canada is betraying its Aborigines, who must deal with dreadful living conditions, poor healthcare and discrimination, the country’s top Aboriginal leader said in a fiery speech on Tuesday.
Aborigines, who make up about 1.2 million of Canada’s 34.5 million population, suffer high levels of poverty and crime. Unemployment and suicide levels are highest among Aborigines, especially on the remote reserves and settlements that dot the country’s north.
Dismaying conditions in the isolated community of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario — where a severe housing crisis means people are living in tents as temperatures dip down toward minus 40oC — have been at the center of media attention since last week, embarrassing the federal government.
“Canada saw for the first time last week what we see every day, what our people live with day in and day out,” said Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
“Some of our communities — too many of our peoples — live in appalling conditions. This is a national disgrace, and we have reason to feel angry and betrayed,” he told an Ottawa gathering of Aboriginal leaders.
Atleo said Aborigines were living through “a tragic, frustrating and even terrifying time.”
He said the Attawapiskat debacle could be a moment of reckoning that helps Aborigines gain more control over their lives.
Successive Canadian governments have for decades struggled to improve the life of Aborigines, who want more federal spending and a much greater say over what happens to the resources on their land.
The increasing sense of frustration is helping bolster Aboriginal opposition to Enbridge’s planned C$5.5 billion (US$5.4 billion) Northern Gateway oil pipeline, which would take crude from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific across land belonging to many Aboriginal tribes.
Ottawa currently spends about C$11 billion a year on the Aboriginal population, which leaders of Aboriginal tribes say is not enough.
Canadian Federal Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan, expressing concern about possible mismanagement at Attawapiskat, appointed an outside specialist to oversee the settlement’s finances, but the specialist was forced to leave almost as soon as he arrived.
Opposition legislators described the move as crass.
“It is a truly terrifying situation for the people there to have a government whose only response to the situation of urgency and emergency is to send in an auditor,” said Bob Rae, interim leader of the Liberal Party.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded that Ottawa would respond to the community’s needs.
He is scheduled to meet Atleo in Ottawa on Jan. 24 to discuss ways of improving the lives of Aborigines.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown