April 14, 2016

“Nothing is going to change”: Attawapiskat has received almost $1 BILLION in ten years. So where did it go?

Ezra LevantRebel Commander

Attawapiskat is a broken town in Northern Ontario, about 2,000 souls altogether. It makes headlines at least once a year for a calamity of some sort.

A few years back, it was leaky houses. NDP MP Charlie Angus was good at getting media attention for the band but not good at solving their problems.

That’s not really his job, though. That’s up to the band councillors and chief, and until about a year ago that chief was Theresa Spence. (Remember her phoney hunger strike?)

Today, things are still so awful in Attawapiskat that 13 children were planning a mass suicide pact. Why? The first and real answer obviously lies with their families.

But if there are political and economic problems, the band — not Ottawa — are responsible. And the band runs Attawapiskat like a medieval fiefdom, ripe for nepotism and corruption.

One of the richest diamond mines in the world was built just down the highway in 2008. The band’s earned hundreds of millions of dollars from it. (Keep in mind: That doesn’t include the millions they also get in government money.)

Yet here we are again.

Another media circus. Another exchange of pieties in Parliament.

Sure, some more money will be sent. But will it matter?

WATCH my prediction for what will happen next — and what’s different about this latest crisis, now that Justin Trudeau is prime minister…

NEXT: After experiencing several unfair dealings with police officers in the UK, activist Tommy Robinson just had a battery charge against him dismissed in court. He tells me the latest chapter in his long, upsetting story.

THEN: Sun Media Columnist Candice Malcolm explains why the NDP is heading back to socialism through the LEAP Manifesto, and why that's something we all need to worry about.

FINALLY: I'll read my viewer feedback, good and bad!

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commented 2016-04-22 16:27:00 -0400
Here’s some reading for you and your followers Ezra. Enjoy!

Attawapiskat: A study in the need to openly address misunderstandings.

by âpihtawikosisân — 39 comments

Remember when entire families in a remote northern community were living in severely inadequate shelters in the wintertime, and the federal government reacted to this emergency quickly, and with compassion?

I don’t either.

What I do remember, is Prime Minister Stephen Harper making a claim about $90 million dollars, adding official legitimacy to an already popular nation-wide belief that band corruption/theft/fraud is axiomatic, and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ need not apply when Indians are involved.

I remember how objecting to the appointment of a Third Party Manager had every cyber Tom, Dick and Harry gleefully asking, “What is Chief Spence hiding?”

I also remember witnessing something I hadn’t expected; something I was wholly unprepared for. Tens of thousands of non-native Canadians unequivocally declaring, “this is unacceptable, DO something NOW!” and shortly after, “If you won’t, we will!” Then, even more incredible, people were asking questions and challenging their own misconceptions about more than just Aboriginal housing.

It might seem odd to say that it was shocking to see such an outpouring of support and a thirst for information with which to reject the accusations being hurled at the Attawapiskat First Nation. You would be right to think that such rational, compassionate behaviour should be the default, not the exception. Yet if you ever need to remind yourself just how poisoned the public discussion is, all you need to do is google “First Nations” and find a news article that allows anonymous comments. Keep a bucket handy, you’ll be reading some vile stuff.

I suggest not bothering, however.

Attawapiskat vs. the Queen, the judicial review

Yesterday the Federal Court released its judicial review of the appointment of a Third Party Manager in Attawapiskat. I think the media has done an excellent job of highlighting the findings of the Court and I do not want to replicate their work. Instead, I want to explore the issue of misunderstandings.

For those not familiar with the different kinds of cases that come before the various Courts in Canada, a judicial review is precisely that… a Court is asked to review the legality of an action or decision made by legislative and executive branches. It is a fundamental aspect of the ‘checks and balances’ built into Canadian system, ostensibly guaranteeing that no one, not even our highest political representatives, are above the law.

In essence, anyone should be able to ask, “Was the government right to do this?” and receive an answer from the Courts.

I explain this because I have seen numerous comments made online about how judges should not be able to interfere with governmental decisions and so forth. The fact is, these decisions are not interference. They are a safety measure predicated on the recognition that human decision makers do not suddenly become infallible once they start working for government.

The sequence of events

If you followed this story at all, and were ever confused about what happened and when, you should read page 4 to the top of page 15 of the Federal Court decision. It’s double spaced, and you can skip through the paragraphs from other cases cited by the Court if you’d like. Just have a coffee and give it a gander.

I think a lot of people are (often rightly) intimidated by legal documents or judgments because of the dense specialised vocabulary. However, most Court decisions provide a very readable summary of the events surrounding the issue, a kind of Coles Notes version. Since the Courts are often privy to information that was not available to or reported by the media, these summaries can sometimes fill gaps in our understanding and clarify ambiguities.

How the issue was framed in public and what the Court had to say

When Charlie Angus first blogged about Attawapiskat, the initial public reaction was horror that such conditions could exist in Canada.

That reaction quickly became swallowed up by a flood of accusations about Band mismanagement and culpability. Whether you wanted to or not, discussing Attawapiskat in public meant addressing those accusations.

There are a lot of ugly national myths about First Nations based on things like misunderstanding the scope of First Nations taxation, and Treaties, as well as not really understanding that colonialism is not a merely historical issue.

Spoiler alert: this Federal Court decision does not magically clear away all the confusion. However, it draws our attention to the way in which misunderstandings led to and exacerbated the crisis in Attawapiskat; misunderstandings not just in the public discourse but also in the minds of those making decisions as to how to respond to the Attawapiskat’s needs.

At paragraph 77 of the decision, the Court says:

“The reasonableness of the choice of remedies [i.e. appointing a Third Party Manager] is conditioned by a reasonable and accurate appreciation of the facts and a consideration of the the reasonable alternatives available.”

78 “…the [Assistant Deputy Minister] misunderstood the nature of the problem…what was really an operational problem. While the [Attawapiskat First Nation] were having trouble addressing the housing crisis, what they lacked was not the ability to manage their finances…but the material means to do so.”

The judgment speaks to the issue of financial management a number of times:

p.24,”Despite the [Prime Minister’s] comments about management, the Respondent has not produced evidence of incorrect spending or mismanagement. In fact, the reference by the Prime Minister as to the $90 million could not have related exclusively to the funds made available for housing repair or reconstruction.”

p.21, “At no point prior to the appointment of the [Third Party Manager] did department officials indicate there was any problem with Band management. The Band was already under a co-management regime and no issue of Band management or financial administration was raised.”

Over and over again, the Federal Court states that financial mismanagement was not the issue, and never had been. The fact that the public dialogue about Attawapiskat was almost wholly concerned with allegations of such mismanagement, demonstrates just how intensely events can become hijacked by misunderstandings. These misunderstandings did not exist only in the minds of the ‘average Canadian’, but also in the mind of Prime Minister Harper when he made his statement about the $90 million, and in the minds of the local bureaucrats who were desperately trying to respond to the crisis. That much is extremely clear.

It is unlikely that this finding will receive as much national attention as the initial allegations of financial malfeasance, and so unfortunately, this kind of misunderstanding becomes reinforced in the public consciousness as an obvious truth. While this might feel like a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ situation, for me it merely highlights how important it is to keep chipping away at the lack of understanding between native and non-native in this country. Quite literally, lives depend on us doing so.

We should not underestimate the power of public opinion… nor of public discussions.

p.2,”This judicial review confirms, if such confirmation were needed, that decisions made in the glare of publicity and amidst politically charged debate do not always lead to a reasonable resolution of the relevant issue.”

p.26,”It would be inaccurate to suggest that officials were insensitive or uncaring about the situation at Attawapiskat…[t]he problem seems to have been a lack of understanding of the [Attawapiskat First Nation’s] needs and an intention on the part of officials to be seen to be doing something.”

The glare of publicity here is not the cause of the misunderstandings so explored by the Federal Court, just as Prime Minister Harper did not create the nation-wide clamour over supposed corruption in Attawapiskat. Both merely tapped into what already existed.

However this time, native peoples were able to also engage in that public dialogue on a less uneven footing. The Attawapiskat First Nation’s webpage was a veritable treasure trove of information even before its financial records were suddenly the most googled item for a few days. More importantly, the bulk of the conversation was happening between people, not between politicians.

I do think the Federal Court is suggesting that had the crisis not become so public and politically charged, the outcome may have been more satisfactory… but I think that might be unduly optimistic. The crisis in Attawapiskat provided a wake-up call that actually reached the ears of the nation. Had it not become so public, I doubt we would have seen such a drastic shift in public opinion in favour of not accepting as self-evident that Attawapiskat was to blame for the housing situation.

I very much believe that out here, in the public, is where the most important gains can be made. We can’t wait for more Royal Commissions or for widespread curricular reform, and we certainly can’t wait for the Canadian government to lead the way. Instead, we should be bringing them along with us. Word by contested word until our misunderstandings are no longer threatening our lives.

Mainstream Canada is finally talking about relationships.

So let’s do this. And maybe finally we can get past the wishing for, and into the planning and building stages.
commented 2016-04-22 07:43:39 -0400
the only job I could get here in northern Alberta was a few weeks taking cencus on reserves for stats Canada & I think Liberals are discriminating against the First Nations by making them do the form which is very detailed and LONG. Mandatory Cencus across Canada but Everyone one reserves has to do the long form, rest of Canada its every third house does long form. More people are angry with their Chiefs and not the government, the chief and counsel is their government.
commented 2016-04-20 19:05:58 -0400
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this mine has 2 more years. What happens when the 200 employees from this reserve are unemployed?
commented 2016-04-19 05:00:39 -0400
And I am still waiting for Theresa “Eagle Feather” Spence to explain what those vague “property acquisition” entries in her annual tribal budgets were for?… Hey “Chubby Chicken”, its just us lowly Canadian Taxpayers asking…. Or is that beneath the dignity of your former office?…
commented 2016-04-19 00:33:05 -0400
I think Ezra is standing up for the average Indian I know all the status Indians in my family think they are getting ripped of by the band
as far as being here both my parents fought in WW2 so my right to be here was paid for in blood
and had they all not gone and fought and won there would be no Indians today
and in Canada we never went to war with the Indians like the US
commented 2016-04-18 20:49:37 -0400
Barry McColman commented 20 hours ago
Hey Robert Hewgill or whitey …whatever your foriegn name is….thieves and bums eh….I already mention who the thieves are in my post….your not an ignorant self righteous hate monger are you?? Because you sure sound like it…and the most ignorant on this thread …which is obvious with your racist rant…go get a copy of the treaties and the Native rights and fill that pea brain of yours with some true info …before I have to post it here …..zero lies …the funding was apart of the agreement …always has been from the beginning …you lie.. cry and whine like a little baby. You clear up nothing ….but your blatant ignorance is now even more clear.

I’ve read the treaties, and there is nothing in them about handing over billions. You are the racist, the thief and the bum. Nor is there any evidence that Indians were here before the white man. The is plenty of evidence that the Europeans were here 4000 years ago. (See who mined the missing great lakes copper.) There is also evidence that the Chinese were here, maybe even as early as 10,000 years ago. What there isn’t, is any evidence that the Indians were hear that early. So watch your mouth.
commented 2016-04-18 12:27:13 -0400
Hey Barry . . . if it was not for the Europeans coming here in the 10th Century and later in the 16th Century . . . . you today would likely be sitting around the campfire possibly Contemplating the WHEEL!
commented 2016-04-18 02:43:32 -0400
BARRY… If you will pause for a minute and draw a breath you might realize that my post was intended to have an honest discourse rather than posturing… Since you are the one who started out your post with historical untruths, i.e. “that the natives of North America lived for thousands of years in harmony” was a bad place to start your arguments… That was my point… I didn’t say caveman, I said Stone Age cultures… Finally, you don’t do your cause any favours, in this post or your previous, by claiming that it’s none of “our” business – the Canadian taxpayers – as to what you do with your billions of dollars in government grants… Yes, it certainly is, IF you take our money … What YOU earn,trade,sell,lease, or barter, is your business…
commented 2016-04-18 00:42:41 -0400
Hey Robert Hewgill or whitey …whatever your foriegn name is….thieves and bums eh….I already mention who the thieves are in my post….your not an ignorant self righteous hate monger are you?? Because you sure sound like it…and the most ignorant on this thread …which is obvious with your racist rant…go get a copy of the treaties and the Native rights and fill that pea brain of yours with some true info …before I have to post it here …..zero lies …the funding was apart of the agreement …always has been from the beginning …you lie.. cry and whine like a little baby. You clear up nothing ….but your blatant ignorance is now even more clear.

And hey Andy Niemers ….this post was not about the tribes battles among themselves …i know what went on between them, I don’t post to try and prove my intellect or knowledge on any deep archeological or paleo understanding. …but I knew one of you would post some rhetoric toward that. This was about being in harmony with the land ….and what happened to the tribes at the hands of Whitey ….no lies …all factual history…and the First Nations tribes were here thousands of years ago ….i Know the history of my mothers ancestors and heritage …don’t be a fool…the Ojibway…the Cree…the Mohawk, Blackfoot, Nakota , Slavey etc. etc. …i can go on and on…i can name tribes you never even heard of …they were here long long before whitey even new the world was round. And yes they fought like any human being in society does. And I’m not your million year old caveman believer either. Zero proof of that garbage…just theoretical jargon gathered from useless dating techniques.. No need for your semantics…the point is, even after the truth of what the the First Nations people have experienced is well known and documented …you all continue to whine and cry your little eyes out in disregard. …while the truth will always be known for what it is …whether you like it or not! What we do with our funding is none of your peoples business…. so don’t stress yourself out…its between The First Nations peoples and the Government.

Why don’t you answer to the most important parts of the story instead of pointing out semantics and trying too look intelligent …not minor details but the major ones …Whitey’s role. Were not talking about the First Nations people killing each other thousands of years ago…we’re talking about Whitey killing them …200+ years ago ….and stealing their land and the ignorant abuse and racist rants and the sick treatment they got and still get …which is obviously proven by this racist post. ..just listen to the doofus Robert Hewgill i responded to above ….pretty sick….So get it right …get the point . Cause you know it….you all know …we all know it. Ezra Levant should dump this thread …its useless info …it only incites hatred and racism and gives the haters something to cry and whine about. And when the truth is told …the haters go into racist coniption. But the truth is known and always will be. Comment back if you like ….i won’t be coming back to this thread …so i won’t see it. I only subscribed to reassure the racist hateful people who you really are. Pretty sick comments.
commented 2016-04-17 20:53:56 -0400
So when whitey asks …what did you do with the money we agreed upon to give you according to our treaty? Native Tribe should say …NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!

and this story my friends is a FACT!

Lets clear up some lies. There is nothing in the treaties about giving all this money to any Indians. By government or any of these companies they’re shaking down for hundreds of millions. You’re nothing but thieves and bums
commented 2016-04-17 14:31:06 -0400
Theresa Spence and her associates will soon be billionaires under a Liebrano administration in Ottawa!
commented 2016-04-17 04:59:41 -0400
BARRY.. If we are going to have an honest dialogue about the ills of Amerinds on today’s reserves in Canada and the United States then let’s not start with a dreamy-eyed “false history”… Native tribes did NOT live for “thousands of years in harmony”… They were Stone Age cultures – with the exception of obsidian tools in the Midwest and beaten raw copper in the Pacific Northwest – which raided and killed each other; burned opponents villages to the ground; cut off hands and feet of their enemies; took and kept slaves; practiced ritual torture of enemies and even children; sacrificed slaves for ritual purposes such as launching Haida canoes, and burying slaves when constructing new tribal lodges; lit prairie fires to drive game, and stampeded bison over cliffs in quantities more than they could consume… Then we can move on for an honest discussion of the ills that beset them when the “Whiteys” arrived…
commented 2016-04-17 02:47:17 -0400
For all you Ignorant “know it alls” …especially for you Ezra Levant

here’s the true story

Native tribes live in North America for thousands of years in harmony.

Native Tribes live off the land , work the land, take care of the land
and its resources. The land remains beautiful for thousands of years

Native tribes Live and own this land for 100’s of generations.

Suddenly one day Whitey comes to the Native Tribes land.

Whitey makes friends with the native tribes. makes trade ..introduces new things, tools…but also comes alcohol and whitey ways

Whitey really likes Native Tribes land.

Whitey decides to steal native Tribes land

Native Tribes say …no way

Whitey say yes way, and begins to slaughter Native Tribes …men , women , and children.

Native Tribes still say no way

Whitey sees that Native Tribes will not give up easily …so whitey offers a deal

Native Tribes say what deal?

Whitey says , we will give you a reserve to live on and treaty land to hunt and fish on…we will also offer you funding for living , schools and education and give you health care.

But Whitey also says…you must surrender quietly and assimilate to our culture …so we will take your children and teach them our ways.

Native Tribes agree since they have no choice, the invaders have succeeded in stealing their land and destroying a culture that has survived for thousands of years on it’s own.

As time goes by, Whitey now decides to take children to residential schools to assimilate …but whitey only beats them when they speak their own language and sexually assault them during the assimilation process.

Native Tribes children experience this nightmare for many years.

Now as more time goes by Whitey starts to renege on its treaties with the Native Tribes ….and some whiteys even begin to think that Native Tribe don’t deserve a treaty anymore …because whitey is greedy and wants it all.

Whitey begins to nibble away at the rights and treaty lands that was agreed on after the slaughter of the ancestors.

But the Native Tribes will never forget the pain and suffering that whitey subjected them to even after the theft of their land.

And after the theft ,as whitey dominates the land for a couple hundred years, whitey destroys it …it is no longer as beautiful as it was for thousands of years…but polluted and lacking in resources …but whitey starts to blame Native Tribes for this.

Whitey begins to point finger at Native Tribes , because now native Tribes are experiencing alcoholism and substance abuse addiction and are caught between their own culture and whitey ways.

Whitey ridicules Native Tribes for their addictions that were originally brought to the Native Tribe lands by Whitey themselves.

Whitey also blames Native Tribe for not living in their REMOTE reserves civily…but the Native Tribes ancestors descendants have fallen from tradition into whitey ways, which cannot be implemented on the REMOTE reserves due to lack of resources and knowledge.

Some Native Tribes tend well to their assigned reserves, but many cannot hope is lost.

Whitey decides to forget them and leave them to fend for themselves.

Amidst the alcoholism and addiction Native Tribe parents lose touch on both traditional and whitey ways and fall into despair.

Native Tribe Children now have no direction or sense of purpose on their REMOTE reserve and become depressed with suicidal tendencies.

So when whitey asks …what did you do with the money we agreed upon to give you according to our treaty? Native Tribe should say …NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!

and this story my friends is a FACT!
commented 2016-04-16 12:15:45 -0400
In regard to First Nations, it renders down to a self-fulfilling prophesy. Indians are thrown on reserves, taken care of by the government, they prostitute themselves by voting for the political party who will send them more money. That political party (the “john”) complies for votes and the vicious cycle continues. If Canadians truly cared about first nations, particularly the children, reserves would be closed, assimilation would begin, and the biggest whores of all ,the chiefs, would themselves be brought up on charges of genocide. If we are not prepared to break the chain, we must be prepared to pay the “john” and the prostitute over and over and over again.
commented 2016-04-16 11:35:44 -0400
Inform the parents of these bullies that if it does not stop the whole family will be sent back to where they came from!!!! We do not need these people in Canada!!!!
commented 2016-04-16 09:21:36 -0400
This is why we are not allowed to comment on any native story on cbc.
People have opinions on this situation but I guess we are not supposed to have a say.
Enable, enable, spend, spend…….if the average Canadian doesn’t get to have a say, how will this ever change?
commented 2016-04-16 00:26:35 -0400
Canada has been held hostage by these chiefs forever it seems. They have received billions over the years yet the majority of the members are still living in squalor. Why is this still going on….why has the gov’t not cleaned up this thievery. Ezra is right, settle this farce once & for all. They say they want to govern themselves, well let them have their wish. This is discrimination against the rest of us big time. Free money, free schooling, free everything but it’s never enough. Their houses were new at one time, so why do they always look like shacks, because no one looks after anything, use it, break it & the gov’t will give you a new one.
commented 2016-04-16 00:11:56 -0400
So pathetic. You’re right Ezra, NOTHING WILL CHANGE, so Ottawa keep on sending millions but God forbid any transparency from the chiefs. This is disgusting & it"s corruption at it’s finest & when PM Harper finally does something to end it along comes Trudeau to kibosh the whole thing. Themselves the sunny ways of the drama teacher.
commented 2016-04-15 21:27:28 -0400
I liked your rant, u read my mind. When I meet people I can tell they’re in university. The institution has twisted them. None of them will be able to work
commented 2016-04-15 19:54:14 -0400
Throwing good money after bad never works.
Unless native community models itself after one of the sucessful indian bands like Osoyoos , they should not have free unaccountable access to any federal funding.
Unless Canada stops wiping their butts and coddling them indian band problems specific to so called "First Nations’ will never go away. Raise a child the same way we have treated Indian bands and the result is a delinquent child. Say no more.
commented 2016-04-15 19:16:35 -0400
Now that the Supreme Court has granted the Metis & off-reserve Indians official status, there will be more pigs at the trough at the expense of those of us who pay the tab. Canada, the new Greece.
commented 2016-04-15 18:33:13 -0400
Obviously not everyone is suited to life on a res let alone an isolated one, just as not everyone wants to be a carpenter, mechanic or an accountant .there has to be a time when tradition is put aside for practical. Even the bison moved on when the pasture wasn’t sustainable.
commented 2016-04-15 15:51:01 -0400
When a government of a country and its Supreme Court sanction “assisted suicide” what is the problem on this native reservation? Many Canadians see nothing wrong with a doctor putting a person"out of its misery" like putting an animal down, so now everyone is screaming when a number of native people plan to do it to themselves! Is not that a double standard with hypocrisy thrown in for good measure?
commented 2016-04-15 15:05:37 -0400
What we’re seeing in Attawapiskat is socialism in action. The political class (reserve leaders) live like royalty. Their cronies get the handouts. The “little people” get the crumbs left over. When disaster strikes they find someone else to blame it on. Maybe the answer is to hold them accountable? Oh, right, to socialists that’s racist. The only thing they care about is maintaining the narrative. Disgusting.

Tommy Robinson is a true freedom fighter. We need more people like him in the world.

Socialists always do well with fully indoctrinated useful idiots that have been conned into thinking things like health care & education can actually be “free”. They want to turn the world into Attawapiskat. Sanders popularity has a lot to do with the blatant corruption of his opponent & people being sick of the political establishment. The NDP is headed for the fanatical fringe.
commented 2016-04-15 14:04:38 -0400
The elephant in the room, the Indian Act. Get rid of it.
commented 2016-04-15 08:50:51 -0400
hey guys, if we all go muzzie, we can treat the people on the rez like they wuz kurds.
just sayin’
commented 2016-04-15 08:44:44 -0400
Great show, excellent news about Tommy! :-)
commented 2016-04-15 08:31:50 -0400
The hypocrite left…fachist liberalism. Corrupted immoral nation.
What kind of citizen can be living without ever having to work and be provided with food, house, clothing and money? They don’t know how to be native and never learn how to be productive citizen. I feel sorry for the kids not the useful idiots who are adults.
commented 2016-04-15 06:24:32 -0400
Every political party has had members put forward bills to dissolve the Indian Act and do away with the reserve system and every time to had been fought by the Chiefs of AFN . To a man every single one of them is happy with the status quo. The Elected Chief, the Hereditary Chief and both their families are at the top of the food chain and they intend to make sure no one tampers with that.
The Liberals are both brainless and spineless so nothing will improve for the average native at the bottom of the food chain in any reserve.
Keep in mind that it was only a generation ago that native women were given rights on reserves and that only happened when the Supreme Court of Canada and the Govt. forced it through Parliament against the wishes of the Chiefs at that time.
I think that fat doughboy in North Korea would be jealous at what some of the families on the reserves have been able to get away , courtesy of the Govt. in Ottawa over the years.
commented 2016-04-15 05:07:10 -0400
STEPHEN… One of the questions raised during the Chief Theresa Spence “eagle feather protest hunger strike” era were several blank accounting entries in the band’s financial ledgers about “property acquisitions”… They were never explained or pursued by our otherwise “keen to accuse” mainstream news media, and if they were explained I have never seen it… Couldn’t be timeshare holiday condos in Florida, could they?…. Perish the thought…