Attawapiskat, Munsee-Delaware, London

What do these three places all have in common?

Housing issues.

If these places were to be placed on a continuum Attawapiskat would be at one end, London at the other and Munsee-Delaware Nation somewhere in the middle.

Attawapiskat, which I wrote about in a post over a YEAR AGO, is still facing the same issues they were a year ago. The difference? The media. Everyone wants to help which is good. However, what about Munsee-Delaware… what about them?

Munsee-Delaware is just west of London ON. They are facing a housing crisis too. LFpress wrote an article on this community’s issue on the same day another article discussed that London ON City Council would move “$1 million from London’s affordable-housing reserve to hold the line on taxes won’t cause problems for most Londoners.”

London ON is surrounded by many First Nations.

To view map, click HERE.

London ON actually reported the highest First Nations population numbers in the 2006 census.

In 2006, the total Aboriginal population was 3.8%. In Ontario, the total Aboriginal population was 2.0%. The total Aboriginal population in 2006 made up 1.4% of the city’s total population. From 2001, the Aboriginal population grew by 10% (the First Nations population grew by 4% and the Metis grew by 38%).

The Aboriginal population is young.The median age of Aboriginal population in London was 26.6 years, while non-Aboriginal population median age was 38.6 years for 2006. Nearly half of the Aboriginal people were under age 25 (48%), while only 32% of the non-Aboriginal population were under the age of 25. The Aboriginal population over the age of 65 was 3% of the total city’s population; meanwhile, the non-Aboriginal population over the age of 65 was 13%. Nearly 3/10 Aboriginal people in London were under the age of 15, compared to 18% of their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

The unemployment rate for Aboriginal people was 8.5% compared to 4.5% for the non-Aboriginal population. The occupied mostly sales and service jobs (jobs considered less stable and having less benefits). The unemployment rate was even higher for Aboriginals aged between 15-24 years. That rate was 19.8% for First Nations youth aged 15 to 24, 22.7% for M├ętis youth, and 13.5% for non-Aboriginal youth.

Aboriginal children under the age of 14 were most likely to be living with a lone parent.That means only one income coming in. Aboriginal children were more likely to live with a lone mother (43% vs 16%), a lone father (6% vs 3%), a grandparent (with no parent present) (1.4% vs 0.3%) or with another relative (1.4% vs 0.5%).

The Aboriginal population were less likely to be employed full-time with only 33% of the population employed full-time. While 40% of the non-Aboriginal population were employed full-time.

The houses that Aboriginal people lived in, 1/8 of the homes needed major repairs and 1/3 were living below the LICO line.

These rates are for the CMA for London ON.

Check out the full map, HERE.

No doubt that there is a housing issue in London ON alright. There is also a housing issue just west of London ON and a housing issue north of London ON.

If you want to care about Aboriginal issues, then care about Aboriginal issues, and not just the issues that get you the most face time in the media or the most public recognition for caring.

ORNGE you glad I didn’t say Attawapiskat Banana.

Here is a bit of background information:

The highest paid public servant earned $500,000 as reported in 2010; however more recently, with an access to information request, reports that he in fact earned $1.8 million.

In my opinion, that is quite a bit for a public servant. But I guess given the services provided/overseeing, it might make a bit of sense.

What did this public servant do exactly? Well he was the head of the ORNGE Ambulance service. This is an air ambulance service that has “13 dedicated bases staffed 24/7.”

This service uses up $150 million in tax payers monies. Yet, there still seems to be some controversy over the accountability of these services. I mean, all services should be held accountable that are funding by tax payers’ monies. You can read a bit about the ORNGE in the Toronto Star here.

Accountability? Wasn’t it Minister of Indian Affairs Mr. Duncan that said,

“Our government believes First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials…”

And, what…

This was said in speaking of a new bill called “Act to enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations” to force individual First Nations

“…to publicize financial information on their own website or the website of a Tribal council/partner organization. The bill also requires that the audited financial statements and schedule of remuneration that First Nations are already required to submit to the federal government be published on the website of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Those statements include expenses and salaries of chiefs and councillors and detail how money was spent every year.

There was a big uproar over the Attawapiskat issue in major media outlets regarding the $90 million that was sent over five years to “help” with the 3rd world living conditions. People asked questions like “where did this money go to?” or “what happened to the money?” Our own PM Harper didn’t even flinch when he got wind of what was happening on this First Nation (which is not uncommon to many other First Nations). Nope, he declared the First Nation to be put under forced third party management and forced an audit of the community’s financial statement. Implicitly telling First Nations peoples that you are unable and incapable of running your own community. First Nations do what they can with what they were/are given. Many communities, like Attawapiskat, are just getting by… However, you can read Chelsea Vowel’s healthy breakdown of how that $90 million over 5 years article on the titled, “Attawapiskat: You Want to Be Shown the Money? Here it Is.

I mean, why wouldn’t anyone ask what happened to the $150 million/year in tax payer money? Why wouldn’t this audit be excessively regurgitated in the major media outlets just as much as the Attawapiskat audit? And where did the CEO go to after his $1.5 million income was announced go to?

It’s too bad that the same transparency and accountability that is forced upon First Nations is not forced upon services such as these.

Public issues vs. private troubles

There is something I keep learning over and over again in school: C. Wright Mills “Sociological Imagination.” In other words, to put one self in another’s shoes to shift from one perspective to another. To understand private troubles vs. public issues. What is a private trouble? Well, the example continuously given in classes: if one person can’t find a summer job is that a public issue? No, that is a private trouble because it only affects one person. If a group of people can’t find a job for a period of time, then it is considered a public issue. Why? Well, it affects a whole group of people that can potential affect policies and the way public funding is administered, like social welfare. Social welfare agencies affect everyone in society whether you want to believe it or not.

So from my understanding, there is a whole nation of people who face 3rd world living conditions. Not in Africa. Not in India. Not in China. But right here in Canada. They also have little to no access to proper health care, clean running water (let alone indoor plumbing/heating/sturdy walls). See: Attawapiskat.

This isn’t an isolated issue. This is the story of many reserves across Canada.

But then you have non-Aboriginals, who can’t afford to pay their mortgage, lose their jobs, or can’t afford gas to drive their cars.

Some people in Canada believe that Aboriginals can get themselves out of their situation that it’s all because they “are lazy and drunks” and that they just “need to find a job” or “go to school” or “pay their taxes” or “stop drinking.” Just to name a few uneducated, ignorant excuses. Meanwhile, you have non-Aboriginals, all over North America, the states and Canada, who live in houses with running CLEAN water, indoor plumbing, heating, have beds with blankets, and some have a car parked in their garage. The moment that people can’t pay their mortgage or their loans or fill their car up with the gas, then it’s a problem that the government must handle.

So Canada, the welfare of other individuals affects us all. How can you just sit back and let this sort of injustice and prejudicial treatment happen within Canada?

Sign this petition if you want to help change happen!

Shannen’s Dream

This video is the plea to the Canadian government to help build a new school on a First Nation where the original school had been ruined because of thousands of diesel fuel that contaminated the ground. The government helped out by putting in “temporary portable trailers.” Or until a new one could be built. This is Shannen’s dream: a school for her community. For more information about this movement go directly to this link: Shannen’s Dream.

It is sad that in a First World Country, some children are still receiving education or lack there of in close below what the rest of the country receives.

There are plenty of videos that show the support for Shannen’s dream. Just makes me wonder where is the support that is truly needed: Canadian government support.

Let’s hope Shannen’s dream becomes a reality.

As the video reads “Hope you’ll remember us. Please don’t forget us.”

Canada… let’s “hope” you don’t “forget” about your future generation.

Check out the Toronto Star’s article on Shannen’s dream HERE.

Check out Shannen’s dream on Facebook HERE.