Fresh water. Canada has more of it than almost any other country on Earth. According to the United Nations Development Program, over 99.8 per cent of Canadians have access to pure drinking water and safe sanitation.
But try telling that to Mike Gull. "Our water smells like raw sewage right now," says Gull, head of the water treatment program at Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. "It's very septic. There's lots of bad stuff in here, lots of dead organic matter."
Chief Connie Gray-McKay of Mishkeegogamang First Nation, 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay, has similar concerns. "Our water smells like iron and magnesium. People have allergic reactions to it, and their laundry turns yellow."
I've been struggling with what to write next, given the unreal amount of attention my last post got. I felt some pressure to use the attention to get a message out... but what do I say, where do I start? How can I top a "big picture" article like one by Wayne Spear, which addresses so much of what I've been trying to say in my responses to comments?
If you can cut through the racism, ignorance, and half-baked opinions of pundits, politicians and sound-bite media, most folks will realize that Attawapiskat and many other First Nations have been labouring under the repression of colonialism far too long.
The antidote for poverty is self-determination and no one can give you that. You have to stand up and take action yourself to make it happen. Colonialism does not give way on its own; it must be defeated through vigorous and enlightened opposition.
A debate that has been swirling around in Indian Country has gathered more speed recently.
The issue revolves around Indian land and its ownership status. Should it be privatized or should it stay as a part of a collective? The question about what to do with Indian land has always been on the table.
In the early part of the 20th century, after most of the available land was opened for settlement, land speculators cast greedy eyes upon Indian land. We were considered a vanishing race at the time, with much more land than we needed.
The Conservatives' 2014 federal budget promises federally controlled schools for First Nations and trained, cheap labour for the extractive industry instead of providing funds to address the socioeconomic crises that exist on many reserves or implementing Aboriginal, treaty and inherent rights.
What is behind the promises to First Nations in the 2014 Federal Budget?