I was never a big fan of former three term Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien, but I must doff my frayed chapeau to this straight-talking dude. Chretien’s solution to this horribly dysfunctional Cree reserve is to encourage its inhabitants to get the hell out of dodge. Or more appropriately, leave this extremely isolated community on the west coast of James Bay and head for a more metropolitan centre, i.e. the city of Timmins about 500 kilometres south of Attawapiskat.
The implication is that this reserve is done like dinner. No amount of combined federal and provincial support can revive this place. No amount of hard-earned Canadian taxpayers’ money can solve the fundamental problems within this isolated reserve. No amount of bleeding heart provincial and federal liberals beating their breasts can turn this situation around. This reserve is doomed to disease, suicide and death. Period.
As Chretien wisely noted referring to this situation, cutting through the political BS and political correctness, “there is no economic base there for having jobs and so on, and sometimes they have to move, like anybody else”.
Chretien is no “Jean-come-lately” to this file. Back in the day, he was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development from 1968-1974 in the Pierre Trudeau cabinet. While Prime Minister in the mid nineties, his government was faced with its own Attawapiskat-like disaster. It was called the Davis Inlet Innu reserve in Labrador.
Attawapiskat in 2016 is reminiscent of Davis Inlet in 1993 – the same sad and tragic story.
Prior to the relocation of all the 500 Davis Inlet residents, six Innu youths, aged 11-14 were caught on video, attempting suicide by sniffing gasoline fumes. According to the then CBC report, many children, some as young as six months, were neglected by parents too drunk to care. The majority of these children suffered from tuberculosis and skin infections caused by poor hygiene.
95% of the adult population suffered from alcoholism.
In 1993, 25% of the population tried to commit suicide. Of the then 360 children (about 10%) some as young as five years old, were “problem sniffers” of gasoline.
As in the Davis Inlet situation, in the last six weeks in Attawapiskat there have been 39 suicide attempts in a community of 2,000 – including 11 attempted suicides in the last week. I suspect these figures are just the tip of the tragic iceberg.
I suspect the number of residents of this community, like in Davis Inlet, who have attempted suicide is much higher.
Also like in Davis Inlet, the children suffer from poor hygiene. And alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and despair are rampant among both young and old residents.
Predictably, Indian officials like Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, point their fingers at the federal and provincial government. Of course, these suicides and these multiple problems are a result of that old “go to” scapegoat: “the residential school” system.
Leftist NOW magazine blames this situation on the “usual suspects” of Canadian colonialism and institutional racism.
Of course none of these politically correct native Indian officials or misguided leftists, point their fingers where the fault clearly lay – the Native Indian elders, the chiefs and the adult natives Indians and parents of these children.
All these so-called leaders and adults should be held accountable for their apparent negligence, their carelessness and for their wrong-headed desire to stay attached to a land and to their traditions of hunting and fishing that cannot sustain this isolated community or provide the bare necessities of life to themselves and certainly not to their children, who prefer taking their lives, than living another day in such deplorable conditions.
If this Attawapiskat reserve was instead an extreme Jewish cult in which its children were attempting suicide, the provincial and federal authorities would be all over this place, removing the children to save their lives, and throwing the cult’s leaders in jail.
But because it is 2016, and native Indians appear untouchable, their children are doomed to die early deaths due to our national liberal political correctness. Shame.