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.
I still intend to get a series of posts out clarifying issues like First Nations housing, health care, education and so on, but I have a confession. I haven't been staying away from the comments sections of articles about Attawapiskat.
I know. It's not healthy. There are so many racist rants and outright ignorant responses that it can bog you down. Where do you even begin, when the people making these comments do not seem to understand even the bare minimum about the subject?
Well, I try to answer questions with facts. Here are some of those facts, if you're interested.
Shannen Koostachin of Attawapiskat First Nation was a young activist just trying to get a school in her community. Despite the high standard of living enjoyed by many Canadians, indigenous children have been forced through toxic and subpar educational systems for decades. Koostachin spoke out and organized with other youth for "safe and comfy" schools. She started the largest movement by children for children in Canada.
Toxicity at school
Several years ago my daughter and I took the ferry from Prince Edward Island to the Magdalen Islands, a small chain of islands in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, which are part of the province of Quebec.
Only 13,000 people inhabit the islands year-round, but tourists flock there in the summer. Most of the islands are connected by land bridges, but sailing in from P.E.I., as the main archipelago comes into view, a ship passenger sees Entry Island, unconnected to the rest of the chain and separated by 12 km of water.
Entry Island has about 130 inhabitants and can only be reached by sea or air. A ferry arrives twice a day from May through December and the island has regular airplane service from January through April.