After decades of fighting with INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs), the Sheshatshiu Innu decided to seek private funding and use their own money for a new Healing Centre in the community.
This is an old story that has been repeated all across Canada.
INAC decided it would not fund the building for the Healing Centre, citing other services off reserve are suitable. However, that is really not the case- Aboriginals need and should expect to get treatment or services catered to their cultural needs.
To blanket Aboriginals into a non-aboriginal setting is detrimental to their specific needs.
As a culture, which can be argued as truly distinct; Aboriginals deal with a vast array of mental and health issues that many Canadians do not deal with. Substance abuse, sexual abuse and mental illness, the residential school experience, and deplorable living conditions have left many Aboriginals destitute and helpless.
For INAC to refuse or drag their feet in funding for any healing centre, shows indifference and lack of sensitivity that many Aboriginals experience on a daily bases.
Most reserves live in what amounts to third world conditions. Compounded by the fact that Canada gives more money to third world counties, and forgives the debts owed to Canada, than it gives to Aboriginal communities.
Right now the government of Canada has about 150 countries that it says qualifies for money under its criteria adopted by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Because there is such a vast amount of countries in need, Canada actually gives government-to-government assistance to 30. The money given by Canada goes towards health care, food, clean drinking water and education.
Meanwhile, reserves have to continuously apply to INAC for the same services that the government of Canada gladly hands out to developing countries.
With resources for funding so stretched, its no wonder Aboriginal communities get little, or in some cases no, monies from INAC.
All this despite the scolding Canada got last year from the United Nations because of their treatment of Aboriginals in this country.
You do not have to drive far to see low living standards, which are far below the poverty level for people living off reserve.
Who can forget the images coming out of Attawapiskat, with elders, women and children living in sheds, no running water, heat or sanitation.
What many do not realize is, INAC gets their money from the Treasury Board of Canada and those funds are funneled to all 600 plus reserves in Canada. Funding per reserve is base on population on - reserve and not based on actual band members registered, so if you have 500 band members, they would get $500,000.00 or about $1,000.00 per year, according to the Assembly of First Nations in 2010.
Out of that, money is taken out for the infrastructure as well as INAC’s administrative costs. Which means each person on a reserve of 500 people, receives about $400.00 per year or about $33.00 month.
It is time the federal government looks at its funding for Aboriginal communities, and restructure its funding so that it is more in line with the rest of the country.