Most of the occupiers have been removed – many by force while remaining non-resistant and peaceful (and unarmed). The remaining occupiers in Canada have orders for them to move or they’re just waiting on a judge’s signature. In the cities that have been “cleaned” the discussion around the occupation has slipped from the media’s radar. The talks are still going on but few are following it – they’ve moved on to other things.
BUT – Our role now becomes to fight for our place in society since we have asked to claim it. We must continue to ask the government of Canada about wasteful spending on helicopter rides and crime bills (while crime rates are actually falling across most of the country). We must ask how that can go on while 1 in 6 reservations are living in the conditions we have seen this week from Attawapiskat. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/11/30/f-video-8thfire-doc-attawapiskat.html
I don’t claim to know how this can happen – $90 million over the last 5 years from the federal government seems like a decent amount of money but I don’t know everything that it has to cover. (Last year there was an additional $4 from the Ontario gov’t and $3 million from Casino Rama.) I know the Minister of Northern Affairs says his team have been up there 11 times this year but they didn’t notice the problems (how do you not notice that there are no toilets and there’s no water in the taps???)
My understanding is that private ownership of homes is not allowed on a reservation and thus a home cannot be used as collateral against a bank loan for repairs. The average income on a reservation is under $20,000 a year and because many are remote everything costs more. This particular reservation has 314 requests for housing but the band can’t afford it, particularly with the condition of perma-frost melting and the land shifting. I’ve seen some Northern reservations while traveling on the Trans-Canada. Some were quite rough and much different than the reservations I’m used in Southern Ontario. Many of the remote locations do not have clean and running water – OUTRAGEOUS in the country with the most fresh water in the world!
So what is the answer? I don’t know. I know it needs to change and I know that advocates are needed. I don’t claim to know what’s best for another culture in another climate but I know that the people who are living it know if we just listen.