Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Letter to the Editor


Your story on pages 1 and 14 of the May 17th, 2017 issue of Indian Time paints a good picture and photo opportunity for some MCA and Canada 150 program representatives whom I feel do not deserve the credit given to themselves for a job well done by others. They had very little if anything to do with the work done at these projects as they sat in their offices. Had it not been through the efforts of mainly the staff of the MCA Department of Technical Services these projects would not have gotten as far as they did. I feel that had this work been left up to the MCA Department of Tehotiiennawakon “management” to do they would have failed us again!

As it was, the contractors hired by the D.T.S. and their office staff worked very hard under great stress, pressure and duress that was imposed upon them by the Canada 150 and the MCA officials through deadlines and delays to OK the funding! MCA officials and Chiefs to make things so difficult for us should not have accepted these conditions, in my opinion! AND this is one of the main reasons as to why I quit working for the MCA Department of Tehotiiennawakon director and his management for the Thompson Island Youth and Elders Cultural Camp. Why MCA continues to keep the camp under that “Department “ is a big question mark for others and me as the builders of that cultural camp for all of Akwesasne both “American side and Canadian side”!

The problems that exist when deals like this one made by MCA and the Canada 150 officials which were or are not properly reported to you for your story. For instance, why and how were the MCA employees as well as the contractors hired for the Arena well as the ones hired for the Thompson Island Canada 150 projects so mistreated by giving them only a short time of only 4 months or so to try and complete these jobs and also by trying to spend $1 million dollars at the Arena and $422,922.00 at the Thompson Island Cultural Camp Facilities Improvements Project as they called it? There was no reason or explanation given for the 7 or 8 month delays by the Canada 150 official representatives to deliver upon the funding agreements signed for in Montreal on January 27th, 2017 and in Akwesasne on February 10th, 2017 only for them to delay the funding until the end of September 2017 demanding that we had to complete the projects by March 31st, 2018! I have a copy of the signed agreements. You can obtain them through the Canada access to information website.

We were not able to start work on the Canada 150 grant project on the Thompson Island improvements until October 2017 - an 8 month too much of a delay for the funding and we only had until December 15th, 2017 to complete as much as we could within 2 months and 15 days. That is because from December 15th to the March 31st deadline imposed upon us we could not get to the Island because of ice and winter conditions! No time allowed for us to do a good job.

On July 20th, 2017 and again on March 1st, 2018 we asked the MCA director of the Tehotiiennawakon “department”, the Environment program (as they now call it) “manager”, the MCA Executive director AND all of the MCA chiefs through an email I sent to all of them as the coordinator of the Thompson Island Youth and Elders Cultural Camp asking them to please obtain an extension of the deadline date of March 31st, 2018 imposed upon us by a Canada 150 official in Montreal. Needless to say, our own “officials “ and the chiefs let us down again by flatly refusing our requests without even trying for an extension so that we could do a good in proper weather.

We lost the whole summer season of 2017 for the construction on our project on the Island because of the Canada 150 Federal Government Agency in the Montreal office hold up on their signed agreement with MCA officials. As far as I’m concerned they both broke the intent of that agreement in which they say was to have a positive impact on Indigenous communities to ensure a better future for Indigenous (which is what they call us now) people through reconciliation.

Our workers and contractors were forced to work from October 2nd, 2017 to December 15th, 2017 especially through November and December in bad weather, heavy rain, cold snow, wind and icy weather on frozen boats and work areas always in danger (with no danger pay) with no worry or consideration from our “bosses” at MCA as they sat in their warm offices with their high paying salaries! Our workers tried their best to do well but the job was only half done - if that!

Thousands upon thousands of dollars of building material, equipment, solar panels and batteries was left behind to thieves, not properly stored. We asked our officials to help us provide for security cameras at a cost of less than $2500.00 but that too was denied! So much for working together (Tehotiiennawakon)??

In my opinion, self government to government partnerships, respect in the workplace deals, reconciliation for a better future for our people as professed by the bureaucrats, politicians or chiefs during their photo opportunities should be carried out and followed in a much better way than they did through the Canada 150 deal and who knows, maybe other deals with governments too. We should not allow the Canadian (never mind the Provincial) government officials telling us “how and when to jump” or how to run our affairs!

Years ago when deals like these were imposed upon us we used to say “the government giveth (money) and the government taketh away” or we used to say “Indian affairs is helping us to death” meaning with all of their “strings attached “ to agreements that they intended to fail our projects. Deals like these should not be tolerated.

Now you know why I say, as do others in the MCA workplace that we do not like bad deals that affect us personally in a harmful way! We must strive to keep away from lateral violence in the workplace.

As we have requested for good changes in the MCA workplace many times for the many of us who have left that department, some of us are still hoping for better so that we can happily go back to work at the cultural camp.

I still have a large list of reasons as why I walked away for now but I will share those reasons and lists with you another time - late.

Niawen:kowa, Bob Stevenson


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