The Harper government marked National Aboriginal Day June 21 with an announcement about funding for Aboriginal health research. This money, which will come out of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) budget, is meant to help researchers apply their findings to small groups in Aboriginal communities, combating health issues that are prevalent in First Nations’ communities, like tuberculosis and diabetes.
CIHR researchers will also work on suicide prevention.
It has been said that Canada’s First Nations youth is our greatest asset in building the future. That with support and proper training, this large population could fill jobs in industries that are currently understaffed.
This government was applauded after the apology to Residential School survivors, but what came next?
If the current government believes that this country’s future lies in our First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, it’s not doing much to show it.
The Assembly of First Nations had to go to court to ensure their children are treated fairly when compared to other Canadian children.
After a state of emergency in Attawapiskat last year, many Canadians learned for the first time that many First Nations reserves are without proper housing, running water, proper school facilities and that our First Nations peoples live in Third World conditions. Even in the midst of the crisis, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs refused to visit the community.
The Canadian public let it be known that there was outrage over the situation in Attawapiskat and the federal budget set out money for schools and improving water quality.
Later this year, the UN Special Rapporteur came to Canada on a standing invitation and exposed the fact that Aboriginal communities are food insecure, with food in the North costing more than double or triple the cost in larger communities. The government minister sent to respond to the rapporteur, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, ignored what the man was trying to tell them and instead attacked him for the European Union’s fight against the annual seal hunt.
It seems clear that Mr. Harper does not look favorably on the country’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis. His base is not fond of them and as a group they don’t tend to vote. In the Harper government, you ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for the Conservatives.
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