Colline (mcollinknight) wrote,

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How to talk about Attawapiskat

Some of you may have seen - on Facebook and Tumblr and the like - the HuffPo story going around called "What if there was an emergency and nobody came?" about the current housing crisis on the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario, where many people are living in shacks, makeshift tents, and overcrowded houses with no running water and using slop buckets as toilets. What is more, at the time of the writing of the article, "It [has] been three weeks since Attawapiskat First Nation took the extraordinary step of declaring a state of emergency. Since then, not a single federal or provincial official has even bothered to visit the community." This is a disgrace, a disgusting example of what is sadly the norm for a lot of First Nations communities in Canada and the lack of concern, knowledge, and priority the government (and the public) shows towards them. I am angry. I am very angry.

As an update, and since the story aired, the Canadian Red Cross will be providing aid to the community. As Andrew Potter, a columnist for Macleans, said on Twitter, "The fact that the CBC has sent foreign correspondents to Attawpiskat tells you almost everything you need to know about the problem."

If you want to know more about the complexity of the funding crisis, why federal money did or didn't go where it should or shouldn't, or want to have more in your arsenal when talking to people about the crisis or about similar issues on first nations reserves, I HIGHLY suggest this piece on 'Dealing with comments about Attawapiskat.' It includes links to a full breakdown of federal funding allocation, explanation of why the "$90 million" figure is misleading, and gives a clearer picture of where funding comes from and how it's allocated. It also includes such gems as: "There is a tendency to believe that our government officials do things in a way that makes sense." lol. True dat.

It also says this:

The Auditor General states: “It is not always evident whether the federal government is committed to providing services on reserves of the same range and quality as those provided to other communities across Canada.” Shockingly, the federal government does not always have clear program objectives, nor does it necessarily specify specific roles and responsibilities for program delivery, and has not established measures for evaluating performance in order to determine if outcome are actually met.
That’s right.  The federal government is not keeping track of what it does, how it does it, or whether what it is doing works. 
Jesus. And we wonder why our development assistance and foreign aid isn't achieving what it should or could? Let me say that again: "The government is not keeping track of what it does, how it does it, or whether what it is doing works." If you don't monitor and evaluate (buzzwords ahoy!) your programs, if you don't experiment with approaches and follow up with communities and alter your work if it proves not to work, then it's highly likely you aren't doing anyone any good at all.

(Oh, and the next person to whine to me about how "natives don't pay taxes"? Is getting verbally slapped. Grrrrrr.)
Tags: *believe vs think, canada, canadian politics = vanilla, development, first world problems, politics, righteous social anger
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