Whatever the Canadian State Cedes to Theresa Spence, It Will Never Be Enough

John Ivison, National Post, January 7, 2013

Theresa Spence isn’t talking. The Attawapiskat First Nation chief is fasting and she can’t talk when she’s fasting, according to her spokesman Danny Metatawabin. Why not, I wondered? It’s not as if her mouth is full.

I kept the thought to myself. Media were kept outside the stockade where Ms. Spence was “focusing on her hunger strike” by a number of burly minders.

Despite the posters proclaiming “zero tolerance to all forms of violence,” the guys barring the gate did not look they’d be dogmatic about the principle. “Friend or foe?” growled one to a native girl who was looking to gain access.

The reason for the sudden chill in media relations was the leaking by the Conservative government of an audit of Attawapiskat First Nation by accountants, Deloitte and Touche.

It suggested that Ms. Spence is not quite the “inspiration to all Canadians” that former prime minister Paul Martin, with uncanny bad timing, declared her to be Sunday.

At best, the audit paints a picture of gross mismanagement at Attawapiskat.

Mr. Metatawabin didn’t want to comment on the new report, blaming the government for trying to “undermine the process” and the media for not telling the Canadian public “the truth.”

But even in Deloitte’s dry gulch prose, it is clear that much of the blame for the housing crisis on the reserve in November, 2011, should be pinned on the chief and her council. The band received $104-million in funding between April, 2005, and November, 2011, but had an operating deficit above 8% of its total annual operating revenue. More than $8.3-million was earmarked for housing maintenance; $7.3-million was handed over in loans from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation but bookkeeping was “incomplete, insufficient and inaccurate.”

CMHC found “abnormal and accelerated” deterioration in the housing stock in 2010 and told the band but the band did not share the information with Aboriginal Affairs, according to the audit. All the agreements the band signed, including keeping up an adequate replacement reserve fund to replenish the housing stock, were ignored and money meant for maximizing the life cycle of houses on reserve was used to repay loans.

Perhaps the most damning statement made in the entire audit was that “expenditures were made without available funds.”

Think about that for a moment. The Idle No More movement has spent the past month inconveniencing Canadians in order to further “a revolution which honours and fulfills indigenous sovereignty.”

But Attawapiskat belies that myth. We have created a system that provides subsistence for no work and protects the recipients from bankruptcy. Theresa Spence and her council could authorize expenditures, regardless of available funds, because she knew that the Canadian government would bail her out in an emergency (as it did, when it sent two dozen modular homes to the reserve, at a cost of $3.75-million).

When exasperated with the apparent folly of our Indian policy, I turn to a manuscript written by Chris Burke, a Scot who has lived around Hudson and James bays for the past 45 years and who married a Cree woman.

He explains how Canada’s First Nations have figured out the right buttons to push to get the cheese. “When it comes to negotiations, this is what is going on. You are being hunted with all the skills of the accomplished hunter, who has been at it for countless generations. The hunter knows his prey intimately. He has learned its habits and limitations and is an excellent tracker. With an incredible gift for observation, he knows the right and most efficient way to make the kill for his particular quarry …. telling a sad story to create sympathy is the bait or the decoy … or if that doesn’t work, getting angry and threatening to scare your prey into the trap. Imitating the call or the habit of the quarry is replaced with imitating the language and practices of your adversary.”

The bad news is, whatever the Canadian state cedes, it will never be enough. “At best, you will only achieve a temporary respite,” said Mr. Burke.

Stephen Harper has just learned that lesson the hard way by granting Ms. Spence what she wanted, only to find out she now wants something else.

Her original demand was a meeting with the Prime Minister. She got that, but late Monday she revealed who’s next for dinner, saying in a release that she will continue her “sacred fast for change” until the government repeals its budget implementation act and introduces resource revenue sharing for First Nations.

If she does meet Mr. Harper on Friday, she should receive tea and not too much sympathy.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • The reason for the sudden chill in media relations was the leaking by
    the Conservative government of an audit of Attawapiskat First Nation by
    accountants, Deloitte and Touche.

    I didn’t know Deloitte had expertise in accounting for rocks and sticks and feathers.

  • jay11

    The tribal groups have received huge territorial allotments, even though before the white man came they were mostly just small bands living in semi-permanent villages. (winter-summer homes for example) Most of Canada was wilderness, just trees and land. The indians up there were not treated nearly as bad as our indians. A whole new province the size of 4-5 Texases was set up a few years ago for a few thousand eskimos! What more do they want? Oh yeah, everything.

  • The__Bobster

    Based on my experience in Western NY, the Big Chief bogarts almost all the money, leaving the warriors at the bottom of the totem pole living below the poverty level.

  • Dude

    I don’t think this is about eskimos. Who keeps picking these titles?

  • So why don’t the Indians try to find some revenue generating measures such as casinos like their American counterparts do? At least this way the whites will be giving them more of their money.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Start their own casinos? You mean.. (gasp!) WORKING for a living?

      Oh, the horror!

      • tjspoker

        No worries any of the native casinos here in Canada all whites (90%+) doing the work.

      • I have a friend whome loves a native girl so much, he had some native art tatooed onto his left arm.
        The arm stopped working immediately afterwards.

    • How about historical tourism like colonial Williamsburg. They could set up their native community exactly as they used to live before the white man. That way they keep their traditions alive AND make money doing it.

  • bigone4u

    If whites were the genocidal maniacs the liberals portray us as, Eskimos and Indians would be extinct. Instead, our humane policies have kept us on the hook for $$$ forever.

    • Oil Can Harry

      If only the great Andrew Jackson were alive and running Canada. He’d round up these Welfare Warriors and deport them to Haiti.

  • KYTim89

    What the Canadian government, and even the US government, should do is cancel any and all government subsidies and grants to the American Indian tribes of North America. It is plain as day that the more subsidies that are given to these people the more they want in return. It is a endless cycle of welfare moocherism. The more the Indian’s dependency is fed the larger it grows. It is over due that the Indian tribes be given full autonomy. Once they are granted full autonomy, it should be on their tribal elders and leaders to feed, educate, employ, incarcerate, and provide a myriad of other services to their own people with out the white man to shoulder the burden of an ever increasing tax consumer dependency group.

    In the hundred plus years that the indigenous peoples of North America have been conquered and placed on the government dole they have achieved an infidelity and out of wedlock birthrate that is greater than that of black Americans, which is an incredible feat onto itself. Much in the way that the welfare state destroyed the black family, the welfare has helped destroy a culture and people that have subsisted as hunter-gatherers for at least 10,000 years. Factor in alcohol and drug dependency and the red skinned people have become a burden that white civilization can longer afford.

    • Many of these tribes have casinos or bingo halls that support their tribes. These provide jobs for tribe members as well as those in the local community. One such tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians each gets a per capital payment from the proceeds of the tribe’s casino and other business ventures. Younger members get their money placed in a trust fund to be used for their education. I read where a laundromat went out of business in the community because tribe members bought washers and dryers with their per capita money. This benefits the greater community since big ticket items such as cars, electronics and appliances are not sold on the reservation.

      • KYTim89

        All I am saying is cut them off of the government titty and let private businesses like casinos, and private charities, to foot the bill of taking care of Indians. Abolishing the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be good start at doing this very thing.

    • Liberalsuck

      there will come a day where our government will STOP giving them money. If they hate white people and our government so much, then they can stop demanding money from us. It’s almost like having sex with a woman you hate. You hate her as a person, but like sleeping with her. That’s how I feel with people who hate us, yet want our money.

  • NYB

    The Canadian wilderness is vast and mainly uninhabitable. Most of the Canadian population lives within a few hundred miles of the U.S. border, because of climatic and economic necessity.

    The aboriginals living deep in the forests have abandoned their temporary shelters for
    ‘white man houses’, but they lack the economic independence or willpower to maintain civilization.

    When they say there is “abnormal and accelerated deterioration of housing stock”, it means the aboriginals are destroying their houses through abuse or neglect. They want new houses paid for by whites – reparations, if you will, for imagined wrongs.

    ‘White man’s guilt’, created during the civil rights era, is a large tent which accommodates many special interests, including aboriginals,

  • Luca

    You can give them a fully furnished home and within a few months they will sell the kitchen appliances for booze and cigarettes, then burn the doors and furniture for firewood. And then they will tell you how they were mistreated and the tremendous injustices of the white man.

  • With any minority, nothing you give them will ever be enough.

    • liberalsuck

      I regard the anti-white blacks, Indians and Hispanics who demand stuff from us the same way I do muslim terrorists. They will never make concessions and will keep demanding all the time.

  • tjspoker

    Almost too disgusted to post on this one. The good Chief realizes the gigs up and of course doesn’t want to face the music….specifically the tune called “Accountability”.

  • Canadian

    “You are being hunted with all the skills of the
    accomplished hunter.”

    Not true. Canadians are being blackmailed by continuous
    tantrums from spoiled brats.

    Few Canadian abos mature past the age of 12.

    For a combination of reasons, they consistently get away
    with their childish demands.

  • Chatville

    I wonder how many go on to college to become teachers, doctors, engineers. Or do they have to import them and pay them with taxpayer money?