Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Letter to the Editor

 


February 7th 2012

Letter to the Editor

I have been following the pomp and ceremony surrounding Queen Elizabeth the II‘s, 60 years of regal service, and Prime Minister Harper’s Celebration in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I must admit to being disgusted with the whole thing.

First listening to Canada’s Governor General David Johnston was a revelation, “Today we affirm our bond with the Crown which helps us to define our country and what it means to be Canadian”. I have been a Canadian all my life; I have travelled from one end of the country to the other and do not need the Crown to define my country for me.

Queen Elizabeth serves the British people not Canadians. Yes, we have the distinction of being part of the Commonwealth. However, what does that mean to us as Canadians in our daily lives, does it put food on our table, does it create jobs, and does it provide us with funds to keep our hospitals and schools open, I think not?

I really would like to know what the Queen does for us as Canadians that warrants Prime Minister Harper to pledge $7.5 million dollars of our hard-earned dollars for commemorative activities. Isn’t Mr. Harper aware of the fact that global recession persists, Canada’s economic recovery remains fragile, Canadians pensions are being reorganized, the public healthcare system is on overload, and there is poverty in the streets?

The people who we should be commemorating are our First Nations people, they play the most integral role in Canada’s culture and heritage, but sadly, that is not the case.

In 2010 the Harper government spent $2 million on the G-8 summit that “will save the lives of countless women and children in developing countries” and $858 million on the G-20 Summit for Fiscal sustainability. Harper sent millions to Haiti after their earthquake and now Harper proposes to spend $7.5 million to celebrate the Queen’s diamond Jubilee. When does the spending stop, so that we can start taking care of our own people? The First Nations people abide by the premise that they live their lives in a manner that will protect the next seven generations. Perhaps the Harper government should adopt the same principals.

Today in 2012 the First Nations people in Canada are living in poverty with inadequate housing, unsafe drinking water and the lack of the necessities of life. Overcrowding among First Nations people is a major concern. One in four First Nations children live in poverty. A recent Canadian census showed that 23% of aboriginal people live in houses that are health hazards or in need of major repair. Suicide rates are 5 times higher than the norm. More than half of the First Nations people in this country are not working because there are no jobs available for them on the reserves. The reserves that First Nations people live on make it difficult for them to access medical services, conduct business or purchase consumer goods. A good example of what the First Nations people are subject to every day of their lives is the First Nations people living on the Québec portion of the Akwesasne reserve. In Saint Regis and Snye the communities are landlocked (by the US and the St Lawrence River) to be able to perform daily activities they are obliged to travel into the United States, therefore being subject to the international borders and long wait times on the Three Nations Bridge. For the Akwesasne people it is a multijurisdictional nightmare that was not created by the Mohawks.

The Harper government should be looking to our First Nations people to define our Canadian identity, not to the Queen. But first in order to do that the Harper government would have to admit the fact that many of our First Nations people live like many in third world countries in the great country that once belonged to them.

Victoria Irving

 

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