Sunday, December 11, 2011

First appeal to the UN, second, accept help from the Red Cross

For readers needing help.... Attawapiskat.

This "remote northern" band has declared a state of crisis.emergency insofar as their housing crisis goes. Maybe they should call Mike Holmes?

I was listening to UMFM, the campus radio station that hosts "Internet Pundits", on a Tuesday I think, and listened to some well edumakated young woman spout off about how horrible this country is for allowing this tragedy to happen over the many prior years. "This isn't a new problem, this has been a problem for a long time" or something of that sort, punctuated with the typical "ya know", and "ahh" so prevalent amongst the opinionated youth who choose to get their opinions from CBC rather than spend their precious reading time actually looking for REAL information, not the spoon feeding of the media.

Leaving aside the millions of dollars the federal government has already provided this particular band for housing and other needs (to the tune of $90 million since 2006)... money they can't seem to find... this band is not really as "isolated" or as "poor" as people believe. 2000 people live there. That's about $18 million a year. $9000 a year per person.

DeBeers. Heard of them? They mine diamonds. You know... those shiny things in rings and ear rings... necklaces?
The Victor mine in the area is on "traditional" lands. That means MINERAL RIGHTS!

DeBeers, along with their almost impossible to replicate South African accents, brought $ 11 Billion Dollars to build their mine. Yup... $11 billion. That's an amount people like Bill Gates understand, not poor folk like me. Of course poor folk like me don't really understand millions either, which is what the Band was paid for goods and services. How many millions? $ 49 million, (53% of the total)

The mine is expected to infuse $49 million  in "aboriginal spending" in 2010 alone. The mine is 90 km from Attawapiskat. Can't find work? Last time I checked, mining paid pretty well. Sure, it's a young man's game, but even so, there's no crying about there being no economic opportunity. Another $2.9 million in community investment. That's JUST for 2010.  Want to know how much they get in mineral rights? Can't say... confidential. I suppose the root of the Chief's problem to have an audit. "You can't know where that money went, it's ours, and how we spend our money is none of your business".

What DeBeers CAN say is that they've awarded $325 million in contracts to "solely owned or joint ventures" run by the community since 2005. Hmmm. That's an average of just over $54 million a year, or another $27K a head per year. Now sure, I know not each person actually receives that,but you get the idea. What are we at now? About $40K a head? At one point, DeBeers invested $14 million in training and development. These were for positions that were "beyond general labour".

Yes, the community is isolated. If you have to fly in, or drive out only on a winter road, well that fits my personal definition of isolated, BUT that is no excuse for not looking after your own citizens.

Surely the amounts of cash thrown around there to this point are sufficient to provide a number of homes, and seeing tents and shantys is unbelievable, simply in that there is no shortage of  money to provide adequate housing. Unfortunately, where the money earmarked for housing actually went is still unclear.

What does a Chief do when people start pointing out the obvious? SMOKE SCREEN

Call the UN and bitch and complain. Ask them to get involved. ANYTHING to get the eyes off the band "leadership". I haven't heard what the UN is contemplating, and I suppose that since these people are "sovereign nations" they can appeal to the UN all they want, but now the Red Cross? Seriously? And they show up?

This is what I don't get. I mean I do in that the Red Cross doesn't judge why people are suffering, they just respond in a time of need. I just wonder if the Chief and her other leadership team really feel that this is a way to get the average Canadian "on their side".

I see that it worked on at least one young and impressionable person with a forum on a University Radio Show, but for those of us with a little more sense and a desire to dig a little deeper than the average tv news spot or radio clip provides, this just isn't working in their favour.

The more we learn, the less we think the Feds should be sending up any more cash any time soon. The agreement to provide modular homes, fine, but until the band cooperates with an audit, just stop sending them anymore cash.


  1. Here's an interesting blog that might answer some of your questions:

  2. @suburbanite:

    Except that that blog is full of inaccuracies as well. Everyone seems to think that because it is written by an aboriginal scholar, it is 100% correct.

    Case in point, the rant about people complaining that the chief made $79K. Nobody is upset about the chief making $79K. But conveniently left out is any attempt to address the fact that their band manager incurred $68K in travel in 2 mos.

  3. Great piece but I'm not sure this math makes sense:

    "$325 million in contracts to "solely owned or joint ventures" run by the community since 2005. Hmmm. That's an average of just over $2 million a year"

    Isn't it more like over $50m per yr or was there a typo?

  4. Thanks TGCTS. If I could remember why I typed those numbers... maybe I'll blame it on the bronfen.