The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal said in a landmark ruling that the Federal Government failed to provide the same level of service to First Nations children as exists elsewhere. They said the government discriminated against 63,000 children on reserves in its funding for welfare and education.
Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada indicated that the Government would be putting more resources into the issue so that these children will have the same opportunity as children in the rest of the country.
This sounds to me like the usual way to solve a problem with the indigenous people in Canada, throw more money at it.
Governments have tried to fix the various problems that exist on these reservations related to their standard of living by throwing money at it for the past 150 years.
It has never worked and it won’t work because it does not address the real problem.
The current structure of the Indian Act makes Indigenous people wards of the state and this makes them second class citizens.
That has to change, however, so far no government has had the courage to arbitrarily change the Indian Act.
For a government to change this Act it would require the full cooperation of the aboriginal community and that just won’t happen.
There are some changes that I think the government could make that would improve the living conditions and standard of living for those people. The government does control the purse strings and it is about time they used that lever so that the funding is more transparent.
For example, if they want to improve the quality of education for the students of the indigenous people they need to quit sending the money to the reservations. Unscrupulous chiefs squander those funds for personal use instead of the purpose that it was intended.
Provinces have the constitutional responsibility to deliver education to its citizens. I think the reservation schools should be incorporated into the provincial school boards and be administered by the provincial departments of education.
The federal government would then forward the funding that they are responsible for, directly to the school board that is administering that school on a per capita basis the same as the school boards receive funding from the province.
Under a system like that the aboriginal children would be receiving the same level of education as other Canadian students.
If the Federal Government “insists” on directly funding aboriginal schools as they have in the past there will be little improvement as the standards will be different than the provincial standards. The increased funding will likely not result in much improvement for the reasons that I indicated above.
If I were a betting man I would guess that in three years we will be back to square one. Much of the increased funding will be squandered by the reservation administration.
What gets my goat is that this system is really unfair to the rest of the citizens of this country.
We provide the funds for educating our students. We also provide the funds to educate the aboriginal students.
The aboriginal community is not taxed on the reservations so they contribute nothing to the cause and accept no responsibility for their education.
There are a large number of aboriginal people living in all of the large western cities. They have access to exactly the same schools and school system as other students.
Why is it that their students seem to end up with the same educational problems as the students from the reservations? It seems to me that this is not a problem of discrimination but a lack of resolve on the part of the aboriginals themselves.