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Friday, November 04, 2005

Native Canadians living in third world conditions...

I am ashamed. Ashamed of my country. Ashamed of my politicians. As a Native Woman I am appalled at the living conditions, the Canadian government has left the First Nations people to deal with.

The emergency evacuation of 1,900 Aboriginals from the Ontario reserve, Kashechewan, has highlighted the issue of inadequate water treatment on First Nations reserves in Canada. It also is shedding light on the appalling living conditions in other reserves across the country. Two days after the evacuation of the entire reserve, near James Bay, due to the high level of E. Coli bacteria in water. Among the many conditions attributed to the over chlorinated water and the inability to use the water, safely, are: Hepititas A, Impetigo, Scabies, Rashes, Blisters, Diarrhea (both acute and chronic) and as a result also dehydration in some small children.

The statistics are ridicules for a country such as Canada. There are 858 First Nations here. Of those 95 are currently under a Health Canada "boil water" advisory, 51 have been under the advisory for over a year. Seven have been under the advisory for over five years.

Specifically 37 of the 123 Ontario reserves are under similar advisories. The Six Nations reserve has been under a "boil water" advisory since the late 90s. It is unimaginable that Canadians are living in these conditions, while tens of millions of CANADIAN dollars are being donated to other countries around the world for the exact same reason, SAFE DRINKING WATER.

The majority of First Nations reserves in Canada are under a "boil water" advisory because of high levels of bacteria in their water supply, most of which are located in Ontario. Health Canada spokesperson Chris Williams said there are an additional 44 reserves outside of Ontario that are also under the advisory. "We can't make the list of communities available until we have the permission from those communities," said Williams. The Government is hiding behind the reasoning that the reserves are independant and that they can not go in, or release information, without first being invited to do so by any specific reserve.

And how, you ask, has this gone on so long? And how did it finally come to light? Kashechewan reserve decided to go public, to the media. It was only after much attention from the media, that the government responded. It was this media campaign that not only embarassed provincial and federal government, but pressed authorities to take action and pledge funding for evacuations and military clean up of the reserve. A reserve with it's origin dating back to the 1950s, created by Anglican Cree. They had seperated from a larger Cree group, after differences arose regarding religion. Religion (Catholic and Anglican) introduced by the White missionaries.

In 1957 the government began building a settlement for the Kashechewan First Nation. According to the band elders, the government ignored advice that the houses should be further upstream to avoid the flood planes and to prevent water damage. They say government officials argued that if the settlement were further upstream, supplies would not be able to reach it. So the government ignored the long term effects for immediate practicality. It's been downhill from there. Every spring the reserve has flooding and this in turn has caused much structural damage and created a great enviroment for mold to grow.

The band made requests on several occassions to be relocated. The government refused to spend the moneys that such an undertaking would require. The remote location of the reserve made it easy for the government to ignore it. Ahh well they have learned haven't they? The first nations people will be ignored no longer.

To the Canadian Provincial and Federal Governments I say, "The world is watching. Do right by these people!!"

2 Comments:

Blogger Askinstoo said...

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11/04/2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Alexander said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/04/2005 10:38:00 AM  

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