Friday, October 28, 2005

Canadian Prime Minister: Mr. Dithers shows he can’t take the heat so he moves kitchen

If there is an irony involved in the Kashechewan reserve it is this; the federal government first moved the band to Kashechewan against the will of the band in 1957 and last night Minister of Indian & Northern Affairs announced that it will relocate the band to higher ground and rebuild 50 homes a year for the next ten years. Taken from a report by the Globe and Mail:
Ottawa — The federal government has offered to relocate the grim aboriginal community of Kashechewan to higher ground along James Bay. In Ottawa on Thursday night, Minister of Indian Affairs Andy Scott met with native leaders and offered to relocate the community to higher ground along James Bay — but the project will take 10 years.

Mr. Scott said Ottawa will pay for 50 new houses a year until the reserve's decrepit homes have been razed. "That is still to be worked out," he said when asked what the new measures will cost. Native leaders who flanked the minister as he spoke said 10 years is a reasonable time to wait.

"I am thankful," said Kashechewan chief Leo Friday. Band councillors will decide who gets to move into the new homes first based on need, he added. "We had to go with a figure that we felt was reasonable in negotiations with the government," said Stan Louittit, grand chief for the Crees of Ontario. "We are satisfied that the community will benefit from this new agreement."

The neglected humanitarian disaster on the Cree reserve in northern Ontario has been a political nightmare for the federal Liberals. Prime Minister Paul Martin, under intense opposition fire, vowed earlier Thursday to clean up a contaminated water crisis on the reserve. "We are very concerned about this totally unacceptable situation," Mr. Martin said above catcalls in the House of Commons.It was another day of searing question-period attacks over the government's failure to help Kashechewan before its plight made national headlines.

It’s all well and good that the federal government finally decided to acknowledge it had a responsibility to act and if the people of Kashechewan are happy with this solution it should all be good. But I am still uneasy with the whole sordid mess. Relocating the community over 10 year period just doesn’t cut it with me. The disaster at Kashechewan was allowed to happen and was an entirely federal man-made disaster.

There was nothing announced by the Minister Andy Scott that showed me that the Ministry of Indian & Northern Affairs has seen the error of its ways. There was absolutely nothing announced that suggested that pattern of negligence and indifference as practiced by the Ministry of Indian & Northern Affairs or that the reign of genocide by sewage has ended. There are over 100 native communities today that are under a boil water advisory and no plan was put forward or action was announced to address that.


Candace said...

This whole thing is a travesty. It bugs me that PMPM can ask Canadians to donate (and they match) for the victims of the earthquake that need potable water and proper shelter, yet he was sitting on this information at the time. I don't know how he sleeps at night.

VW said...

I'd be curious to see which government official is going to be the first to blame the Tories, since the decision to locate the band there was made in 1957 -- during the Diefenbaker administration.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Candace, I truly believe the PM sleeps well at night because we as a nation have yet to take a stand and call those responsible to account. Wasn't it Burke who said that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

VW is might have been a tory government that first moved the tribe but it was a liberal government that signed off on the plans for a water treatment intake pipe to feed from a sewage lagoon. It was a liberal government that sat on the problem for 8 years and did nothing.