The social and political issues that Aboriginal communities face have exponentially gotten worse over the years. Rising crime including substance abuse, domestic violence, resulting in an over-representation in the justice system, to dependency of their people on the Canadian government for many services that quickly fail, Aboriginal issues are becoming more of a national emergency than just an unfortunate situation. With many communities reporting rising suicide rate I think now is a good time to do something about it.
Our Indigenous population, which include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and 614 Bands, have been governed under the Indian Act which was enacted in 1876. The Act is very wide-ranging in scope, covering governance, land use, healthcare, education, and more on Indian reserves. Notably, the original Indian Act does two things affecting all indigenous peoples in Canada:
- It says how reserves and bands can operate. The Act sets out rules for governing Indian reserves, defines how bands can be created and spells out the powers of “band councils”. Bands do not have to have reserve lands to operate under the act.
- It defines who is, and who is not recognized as an “Indian”. The Act defines a number of types of Indian people who are not recognized as “registered” or “status” Indians and who are therefore denied membership in bands
This framework is oppressive in its very nature and certainly is a major contributor the the plights faced by their people. Thinking we can co-exist with these limitations in place, is like thinking we could continue to co-exist with African Canadians under segregation laws. You can not have mutual respect when you do not have equal opportunity. We will continue to foster animosity within their communities as long as these conditions remain, and we will never have reconciliation.
The thing is, when you put politicians in charge of solving real problems, you get political solutions, we need real people in charge in order to get real solutions. That is where the People’s Party of Canada comes in.
Maxime Bernier has stated that if elected the People’s Party will abolish the Indian act in favor of an agreement that benefits Aboriginal people in a fair and respectful way. Based on the founding principles of the party. The Party website states:
- A People’s Party government will explore options to replace the paternalistic Indian Act, which keeps aboriginals in a state of dependency and allows the federal government to control most aspects of their lives, with a new legal framework that guarantees equal rights and responsibilities to aboriginal people as Canadians, and promotes the self-reliance of communities.
- A People’s Party government will respect our Constitution and treaties. It will reaffirm the federal government’s power to approve natural resources and infrastructure projects, after adequate consultations with affected aboriginal groups, and in partnership with them to ensure they can benefit from these economic opportunities
A People’s Party government will explore further avenues to promote the establishment of individual property rights on reserves so as to empower its residents, and give them increased control over their lives.
A People’s Party government will insure that aboriginal communities take more ownership of the services they receive in partnership with Ottawa and other levels of government.
A People’s Party government will review federal spending to ensure that programs are better targeted to benefit the aboriginal population, in particular the communities that have the greatest needs.
The party also states that this is just the beginning of a more comprehensive plan to assist our Indigenous population. I think it is certainly a step in the right direction. We can not continue to keep putting band aids on a gaping wound. Its counterproductive, and simply a waste of band aids.
Suicide rate are always the red flag for me. When these numbers increase we all need to pay attention. Regardless if it is Transgenders, Indigenous people or even the group with the highest suicide rates, White people, we need to investigate and do everything in our power to change the conditions causing the depressive result. Nobody should ever feel that death is better than life, especially when we can do something about it.
I really hope that the day comes that we can co-exist with mutually respectful relations between our nations. A relationship that comes from equality not authority. One that benefits both and enriches our societies and culture. I do not think this day is far away. I think the right ideas are out there now, it is just up to us to have the courage to elect the right people in to do them.
Here is a list of Suicide hotlines across Canada. If you ever need to talk to someone, please reach out.
- KidsHelpPhone Ages 20 Years and Under in Canada 1-800-668-6868
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line 1-855-242-3310
- Canadian Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419
- Trans LifeLine – All Ages 1-877-330-6366
- Alberta Crisis Line – All Ages 403-266-4357
- British Columbia Crisis Line – All Ages 1-800-SUICIDE
- British Columbia Mental Health Support 310-6789
- BC211 – Referral Hotline 24/7 Dial 211
- Manitoba Crisis Line – All Ages 1-877-435-7170
- New Brunswick Crisis Line – All Ages 1-800-667-5005
- Newfoundland and Labrador Line All Ages 1-888-737-4668
- NWT All Ages 24/7 1-800-661-0844
- Nova Scotia Crisis Line – All Ages 1-888-429-8167
- Nunavut Line – All Ages 7 pm-11 pm (EST) 1-800-265-3333
- Ontario Crisis Line – All Ages 1-866-531-2600
- Ontario College and University Students 1-866-925-5454
- Ontario York and Simcoe Support Services Network 1-855-310-COPE (2673)
- Ontario – Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances, Rainy River and everywhere in between 1-866-888-8988
- Prince Edward Island Crisis Line – All Ages 1-800-218-2885
- Quebec National Crisis Line – All Ages 1-866-277-3553
- Saskatchewan Crisis Line – All Ages 1-306-525-5333
- Yukon Crisis Line – All Ages 7 pm-12 am (PST) 1-844-533-3030
Photo supplied by “V’s Treasures”