Friday, December 2, 2011
This week the news programs have been focused on the Attawapiskat First Nations reserve in northern Ontario, whose Chief, Theresa Spence, declared a state of emergency last week on behalf of her people.
1800 people live on this reserve. There are 303 houses. Half the houses need major renovations or are condemned. Many families are living in unheated shacks (like the one in the news photo above), without electricity or running water. It is twenty below zero there this time of year.
Soon after the state of emergency was declared, the Red Cross was there, on the ground, bringing emergency supplies, water, sleeping bags, tents. There is urgent need for warm dry shelter for a large number of people.
This is an appalling state of affairs, not isolated to only this reserve - others have now come forward, shedding light on the fact that we have Third World living conditions happening right in our own country. 2011, and the Haves never lower their eyes to see how the Have Nots are living.
The politicians are much more interested in deflecting blame and covering their butts, than they are in what is urgently needed - long term housing for people who are slowly dying in shacks while the MP's slam each other self-righteously across the floor of the House of Commons. Their statements are the usual - "We have spent millions, where did the money go?" They "didnt know" the situation was so bad until last week. Yet they "co-manage" that money between government and Indian Affairs, and had government people visiting the reserve regularly who could not possibly have been unaware of the state of housing.
Meanwhile, the elderly, the little kids, the families are bedding down tonight in mattresses on the floor, several people to a bed, in shacks without heat..........waiting for bureaucracy to stop squabbling and kick it into gear.
Thank God for the Red Cross who, in a state of emergency, ACT and leave the talking for later.
One more shameful chapter in the mistreatment of First Nations. And sadly, it sounds like Attawapiskat might be just the tip of the iceberg.