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Occupy Protestors Evicted From Tents, First Nations People Forced Into Tents

Occupy Protestors Evicted From Tents, First Nations People Forced Into Tents

The contrast is staggering. In the large cities of southern Ontario, Occupy Ottawa and Occupy Toronto protesters were evicted this morning from the tent cities they set up last month to protest economic disparities. One thousand kilometers further north (652 miles), the residents of the Attawapiskat First Nation have been living in tents and sheds without water or electricity for years and no one is doing anything about it.

Attawapiskat Declares State of Emergency

It has been three weeks since the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency due to the third world living conditions in this Northern Ontario community on the shores of James Bay. The daily high temperature doesn’t reach above the freezing mark anymore and as we descend into winter, the weather will only get worse.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the living conditions are horrible and deteriorating:

For at least the past two years, many residents – including in some cases, multiple generations of one family – in the community have been living in makeshift tents and shacks without heat, electricity and indoor plumbing.

At least 90 people have resorted to living in two construction workers’ portables equipped with only two washrooms and four showers to use among them.

Others are using buckets as washroom facilities and sleep in fear of fire because of wood-burning stoves in their homes, the chief said.

Further evidence of the disastrous conditions can be seen in a video posted by Charlie Angus, the NDP Member of Parliament for Timmins James-Bay.

The images show residents, including children, with injuries and illnesses caused by their crowded and unsanitary living conditions. People are frequently burned and scalded by makeshift wood stoves in crowded spaces, tents become long-term homes for families with small children, mold is growing in their living quarters and people are at serious and constant risk of infections.

Charlie Angus wrote the Huffington Post Canada article on the emergency facing his constituents. He noted that no federal or provincial government official has visited the community, no aid agencies have offered help and no disaster management teams have stepped in. The residents, far from the decision makers in Toronto and Ottawa, are simply ignored and forgotten.

Occupy Ottawa and Occupy Toronto Protesters Evicted from Their Tent Cities

In Ottawa and Toronto, protesters set up camps in public parks last month. This morning at 2:00am, around 100 police officers descended on Ottawa’s Confederation Park to enforce eviction notes that were posted earlier in the week. A small number of people were arrested and additional protests are planned following the shut down of the camp. In Toronto, police moved into the Occupy Toronto camp at St. James park around 6:00am and began photographing and tagging each tent. They then removed unoccupied tents and warned protesters who were present to immediately remove their tents and leave the park.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

It is hard for politicians to ignore the 99% when they are practically sitting on their doorstep. The Occupy Toronto and Occupy Ottawa tent cities were a visible and constant presence in major parks in the downtown core of large Canadian cities. It is easier, however, to ignore the 99% when they are a thousand kilometers away.

In the Huffington Post Canada, Angus wrote:

Try to imagine this situation happening in anywhere else in this country. We all remember how the army was sent into Toronto when the mayor felt that citizens were being discomforted by a snowstorm. Compare that massive mobilization of resources with the disregard being shown for the families in Attawapiskat.

Ironically, there is a push to shut down some of the tent cities set up by Occupy protesters because officials are concerned about the effect of unsanitary conditions on the health of the protesters. Where is the concern for the unsanitary conditions and the health of the people of Attawapiskat? Perhaps instead of worrying about people voluntarily living in tents in Canada’s cities, politicians and public officials could start worrying about those Canadians who are forced to live in tents.

Has the 99% Made Its Point?

They’ve made their point and now it is time for them to leave. That is a phrase that has been uttered in news commentary, by politicians, and on social media. Perhaps they have made their point, but is that what they set out to do?  Although the Occupy movement has sometimes been criticized for a lack of focus, it is fairly clear that it is about more than just making a point. The Occupy protestors around the world are looking for change. They are looking for hope for the people who have been failed by the current system. They are looking for ways to address social injustice and economic disparities.

The people of Attawapiskat First Nation are among those who have been failed. They are an example of the 99%. They are in dire need of help from aid agencies and governments. It is time for officials to do more than say “we’ve heard your point.” It is time for them to be part of the change and to address this issue head on.

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163 comments

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1:51PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

I hope these people get the help they need.

2:51AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

if you believe in a higher being and he put us all on this earth, do you really think he is caring of the location? i think it's still all earth...

1:58PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

The Attawapiskat have received 60 million dollars from the Canadian government in the last year alone. So while Liberals blame the HArper Government, the Attawapiskat question their tribal leaders:

"Some residents fear that housing is not a priority for the local council because some projects have received questionable funding, including a new zamboni at the hockey arena paid for out of an education fund.

A 2010 audit of the local council's finances reveal some discrepancies, including un-compiled budgets and undocumented salaries.

We're not hiding nothing. If we were hiding something, it'd be in the audit," Chief Theresa Spence told CTV.

"The government says we're mismanaging money, we're not."

Documents obtained by CTV indicated that Spence travelled on an $8,400 chartered plane to the Toronto Islands, which she at first denied.

She later acknowledged that she travelled on the flight with other council members and her daughters."

1:57PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Some residents fear that housing is not a priority for the local council because some projects have received questionable funding, including a new zamboni at the hockey arena paid for out of an education fund.

A 2010 audit of the local council's finances reveal some discrepancies, including un-compiled budgets and undocumented salaries.

We're not hiding nothing. If we were hiding something, it'd be in the audit," Chief Theresa Spence told CTV.

"The government says we're mismanaging money, we're not."

Documents obtained by CTV indicated that Spence travelled on an $8,400 chartered plane to the Toronto Islands, which she at first denied.

She later acknowledged that she travelled on the flight with other council members and her daughters.

Source: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20111130/attawapiskat-help-arriving-111130/#ixzz1fVlEYt00

1:56PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Some residents fear that housing is not a priority for the local council because some projects have received questionable funding, including a new zamboni at the hockey arena paid for out of an education fund.

A 2010 audit of the local council's finances reveal some discrepancies, including un-compiled budgets and undocumented salaries.

We're not hiding nothing. If we were hiding something, it'd be in the audit," Chief Theresa Spence told CTV.

"The government says we're mismanaging money, we're not."

Documents obtained by CTV indicated that Spence travelled on an $8,400 chartered plane to the Toronto Islands, which she at first denied.

She later acknowledged that she travelled on the flight with other council members and her daughters.

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20111130/attawapiskat-help-arriving-111130/#ixzz1fVlEYt00

1:56PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Some residents fear that housing is not a priority for the local council because some projects have received questionable funding, including a new zamboni at the hockey arena paid for out of an education fund.

A 2010 audit of the local council's finances reveal some discrepancies, including un-compiled budgets and undocumented salaries.

We're not hiding nothing. If we were hiding something, it'd be in the audit," Chief Theresa Spence told CTV.

"The government says we're mismanaging money, we're not."

Documents obtained by CTV indicated that Spence travelled on an $8,400 chartered plane to the Toronto Islands, which she at first denied.

She later acknowledged that she travelled on the flight with other council members and her daughters.

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20111130/attawapiskat-help-arriving-111130/#ixzz1fVlEYt00

3:39AM PST on Nov 29, 2011

Shari, you missed what I said almost completely. The friend I referred to who was born in Yellowknife was indeed First Nations, but then they didn't refer to themselves as that at all, at the time we worked together (for the same Canadian company). Who cares? He was Canadian, same as yes, anyone born in L.A. is an American. That's just the law, and it's actually a sore point for some who think it shouldn't be. I know what you said about "Los Angeles, Oklahoma" and the attempt at humor there. Fact is, Yellowknife is in Canada, at least one of the provinces. Seems the big deal seems to be that nobody in the U.S. should be allowed to have an opinion on the subject, and I find that pretty closed-minded, since I've read hundreds of opinions from Canadians about U.S. politics, and the government here, our economy, and other things that do not concern them, personally in any way, shape or form.

Margaret, let it go. This has almost become the Margaret site, not even Care.2. Post away, but stop addressing me. You still are twisting EVERYTHING I said around. Do you have NOTHING better to do? I've tried to not even post in this discussion again, as I said what I had to say. I won't stand by and be continually attacked, personally, however, and this is really getting ridiculous. SEVEN comments in a row, all directed at me, all taking bits and pieces of my previous posts and making nothing but hostile remarks.

4:22PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

11:01AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

thanks bringing light to the horrible conditions

10:32AM PST on Nov 28, 2011

I agree with the point Shan brought up which is you are commenting and attempting to justify errors you have made in geography, history, the obligations of a government which you kept on inferring were handouts. When you were corrected and it was shown that this has nothing to do with handouts, but are legal obligations, you continued to defend your position based on a faulty premise. In addition, I am offended that you suggested that the reading of the American Constitution would somehow make me understand better your point of view, when nothing on this has to do with America.

It is even worse when you are now stating "Care.2 is not just a Canadian site, either, it's actually based in California". The issue posted though clearly was Canadian, so why would we discuss anything American in regard to a housing crisis here?

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