LETTER: First Nations are underfunded in Canada

Letter writer needs to look into the work being done to improve financial accountability

One has to question former city councillor and retired university professor John H. Redekop’s “reading of the public mood” as expressed in his letter to the editor, “Handling of aboriginal funding affects increases.” (The News, Oct. 17).

Was this a representative survey of thousands of people in each of the country’s 10 provinces and three territories? Or was it based on reading too much into benignly ignorant conservative bloggers who rant on things such as First Nations management and accountability, without knowing much about what they are blogging about?

Yes, it will be difficult to generate public support for increased government spending on the country’s 1.4 million people with aboriginal identity.

The reason? People who rely on any form of media for detailed information on Canada’s First Nations are benignly ignorant of the make-up of Canada’s population as it pertains to First Nations people and the circumstances in which most of them live due to the simplification of any news or information on this topic due to the age-old excuses of time, space and cost.

The lack of support stems from a constant reiteration by people like Redekop and his ilk, of limited situations of abuse of government funds by a very small number of First Nations chiefs and councillors who misuse their power, much like the Conservative Party members during the last election with all of the “Robocalls,” that MPs and party officials and members have conveniently turned a blind eye to.

My data, obtained directly from Statistics Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada as well as from documents published by the Assembly of First Nations, shows there are 614 bands or councils in Canada with 3,297 First Nations elected officials and 21 earning more than their province or territorial Premier for 0.64 per cent.

I don’t know where Mr. Redekop gets his figures but then a letter to the editor is not exactly a scholarly essay but, as it turns out, a rehash of Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation gripes that only go to inflame public sentiment, and does nothing to improve the knowledge and understanding of our First Nations and their plight and struggle with the Canadian populace.

So, two paragraphs are devoted to explaining the fiscal abuse by 39 elected officials in two First Nations communities. Gee, that’s 0.0118289 per cent of the First Nations elected officials in the entire country.

Why doesn’t Mr. Redekop explore the work going on with First Nations and provincial governments and the federal government to improve the financial accountability of the country’s other 612 councils and inform News readers of the positive work being done.

Finally, Mr. Redekop, don’t put too much faith in Ipsos Reid polls. How large was their survey (in numbers of people contacted) and was it representative sampling? And, oh, yeah, didn’t they kind of blow it on their last major survey — you know, the one telling us that the NDP would be elected in the May 2013 election.

With a growing First Nations population, poor housing, inferior education and life-expectancies far lower than average Canadians, the benignly ignorant four out of five Canadians need to realize that First Nations are underfunded.

Graham MacDonnell

Abbotsford