Government Left First Nations Tribe Out In The Cold…Literally
The Federal Court ruled August 1 that when Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan responded to the housing crisis on Attawapiskat First Nations by appointing a third party manager to take over the finances, he was acting unreasonably.
The ruling is a victory for the people of Attawapiskat who were focused on surviving the winter when the Minister decided the first priority should be getting their accounts in order.
The Federal Court judge, Michael Phelan, ruled that the government “invoked a financial management remedy without considering more reasonable, more responsive or less invasive remedies available.”
In the ruling, it states that the officials never mentioned any issues with Band management before appointing Marion. The judge also says that the government has not provided any evidence of mis-spending that the Prime Minister and other Conservatives referred to in Question Period during the crisis.
Phelan also noted in his ruling that the situation in Attawapiskat was an embarrassment.
The people of Attawapiskat were living in third world conditions, living in unheated, uninsulated homes, often over-crowded with no sanitation. Some were living in tents with frigid temperatures approaching with the Northern Ontario winter.
The community declared an emergency situation in November of 2011. It took two weeks after the declaration of emergency for officials from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to visit the community and assess the situation.