Band in Ontario threatens to block access to cottages
Last updated May 25 2006 - CBC News
A First Nations group in Ontario is threatening to block access to a subdivision on its reserve that contains cottages unless Ottawa quickly renews a leasing agreement that brings money to the reserve.
The Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, whose reserve is north of Wiarton, say they are upset that the federal Indian Affairs Department has not yet renewed the agreement with non-natives who own cottages on 140 lots on their land. They say they have waited 10 years for the department to sign the agreement.
Their reserve occupies part of eastern shore of the Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay.
Under the Indian Act, the department is responsible for administering the leasing agreement, but the Chippewas say their 2,300 band members are running out of patience. They believe the delay in signing is a result of legal issues.
Chief Chief Paul Nadjiwan said if the agreement is not renewed soon, the band will have no choice but to prevent cottagers from entering the reserve. A "No Trepassing" sign put up in the subdivision a few weeks ago was taken down but was replaced with a new one over the Victoria Day weekend.
Nadjiwan said money from the cottagers cannot reach the community unless the lease is signed.
"If there is an agreement, they know that they are welcome, and they have always been treated well by our community," he said. "But if there is no agreement? Then they really can't access the site."
Cottagers in the subdivision, called Hope Bay, said they are caught in the middle, unable to sell their cottages because they do not have a lease to the land and unsure of what access they will have because of the dispute.
Paul Van der Camer, a cottager in the area, said the people who lease the cottages are not the problem.
"We've been there 38 years we've enjoyed it we haven't had a problem until this," he said.
"And it is unsettling because nobody knows what's going on."
Indian Affairs has issued temporary permits to the cottagers for the summer. The Chippewas are expected to meet with Indian Affairs on Monday to talk about the issue
By David Loyn
BBC Developing World correspondent
Indigenous people are much worse off even in developing nations
This is among the findings of a major investigation launched by the medical journal The Lancet into indigenous communities.
The relatively poor health of aboriginal people in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has been well-documented.
But this study finds that indigenous communities are much worse off than other poor people in Asia, Latin America and Africa as well.
Looking at infant mortality among the Nanti tribe in Peru, the Xavante in Brazil, the Kuttiya Kandhs of India and the Pygmy peoples of Uganda, researchers found much worse figures than in the "host" communities.
In India for example, 25% of the population live below the poverty line, but among so-called "Scheduled Tribes" the figure rises to 45%.
Colonialism [created] an image of indigenous peoples as primitive, backward and deliberately obstructive to modernity
The concept of "indigenous" is a complex one, particularly in India and Africa.
The Indian government acknowledges the existence of "tribals", or "adivasis", adhering to pre-Hindu animist faiths.
It is among these "tribals" that India's biggest current security concern, the Maoist Naxalites, recruit and operate.
Lancet researchers record even more difficulty in defining indigenous people in Africa, blaming colonial persecution - inherited by other dominant groups since the end of Empire - for the poor health of some marginalised communities who live outside the mainstream.
Colonialism began the decline in health for indigenous peoples by introducing unknown diseases, and displacing them from their ancestral lands.
"Colonialism impacted as profoundly in a conceptual sense - creating an image of indigenous peoples as primitive, backward and deliberately obstructive to modernity," says the study.
Many of the indigenous people surveyed shared a sense of the loss or pollution of tribal lands, as mining, and other industries came in.
Unemployment, alcoholism, and drug dependency came along with their proximity to "civilisation". Homicide is a much more common cause of death among Australian aboriginal women than among the general population.
UN goals 'divert attention'
The biggest concern of the Lancet researchers, led by Dr Carolyn Stephens from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is that the health of indigenous people does not register on world statistics at all.
The current priority in development funding is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), targets set during the UN Summit in 2000. But the report says: "The MDGs could be achieved even if indigenous peoples disappear from our world."
Dr Stephens says the focus of the MDGs on "headline-capturing big numbers has an [negative] impact on indigenous peoples - both in terms of their international visibility, and in fund allocation".
The cultural traditions and knowledge of herbal medicine of indigenous people predate the collective knowledge of globalisation, and the Lancet researchers believe that we could lose much if these people are allowed to die.
"Globally, indigenous peoples represent a demographic minority and they are amongst the world's most disenfranchised peoples," says the study.
"Despite this, they have lived in and protected our most precious ecosystems and many of their ideas are vital to the survival of the ecosystem on which we ultimately all depend."
The authors quote approvingly the words of Mexican poet Octavio Paz: "The ideal of a single civilisation for everyone implicit in the cult of progress and technique, impoverishes and mutilates us. Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life."
AFN Press Release - May 11, 2006
AFN National Chief Says Drug Spending in Canada Report Confirms Discrimination of First Nations
Yesterdays’ Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) report on drug spending in Canada confirms that First Nations receive the least amount of health funding per person.
“We are among the poorest of the poor in Canada, which includes having the poorest health status. Health Canada has acknowledged this for many years.” said National Chief Phil Fontaine. “The average per person drug spending for First Nations is $419 compared to an average of $770 per Canadian, a difference of $350. This is simply unacceptable.
“This situation will only continue to get much worse since there is a projected $2 billion deficit over the next five years on health spending for First Nations,” commented the National Chief. “Our people suffer from poor health as a direct result of living in poverty. And yet the government continues to cut corners with our health services.”
In 2004-5, the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program, of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada, spent approximately $320.6 million on drug benefits, which averages out to $419 per person for the total population of 765,000 First Nations and Inuit. By contrast, the drug spending for Canada’s 133,000 veterans is approximately $843 per person; the 67,000 members of the Department of National Defence receive $3,519 per person; for the 21,255 inmates in federal prisons, it is $6,492 per person.
“The NIHB Program has many barriers and restrictions for First Nations accessing the drug plan. Most drugs on the NIHB Benefit list are cheaper generics, while the more expensive drugs or therapies are often listed as limited use, or may require prior approvals,” noted the National Chief. “Health Canada’s mandate is to increase the health status of First Nations. Why then is the government openly restricting access to benefits? With a 3% cap on the NIHB funding envelope, as opposed to a 6 per escalator for the rest of Canadians, First Nations will continue to suffer unnecessarily.”
The AFN released a First Nations Action Plan on NIHB in April, 2005 that sets out recommendations for addressing the current discrimination.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
Bryan Hendry, AFN Health and Social Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 229 or cell 613-293-6106
Don Kelly, AFN Communications Director
613-241-6789 ext. 320 or cell 613-292-2787
Ian McLeod, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 336 or cell 613-859-4335