LETTER: Handling of aboriginal funding affects increases

Recently some Canadian aboriginals demonstrated in New York demanding more funding by the Harper government...

Recently some Canadian aboriginals demonstrated in New York demanding more funding by the Harper government.

Various aboriginal leaders across B.C., including some in this area, have complained to Ottawa about underfunding.

My reading of the public mood is that despite the acknowledged historical mistreatment of many aboriginals, it will be difficult to generate support for greatly increased government funding.

Unfortunately, the misuse of government funds on some reserves has negatively impacted the views of many Canadians.

My available data, quoted directly or indirectly from government records, reveals the following financial realities.

Importantly, all funds were received tax free!

Chief Shirley Clarke of the Glooscap Nation “and her three councillors were each paid more than $200,000 last year [2010] for running a band of only 300 people, fewer than 90 of whom live on the reserve.”

“One of those three councillors was paid an additional $728,000 [yes $728,000] for doing other reserve jobs …”

Attawapiskat’s band chief, the well-known Theresa Spence, was paid “about $83,000 for overseeing the hamlet of just 1,700 people.” Incredibly, this tiny settlement is governed by 14 paid chiefs and council members; two paid administrators; five paid unelected officials; 12 paid “education authority” officials; and a “daycare manager” paid $45,276.

In 2010 “160 First Nations politicians earned more than their provincial premiers, and … 50 chiefs earned as much money in a year as the prime minister’s annual salary of $315,000.”

In 2009 “at least 200 [‘native chiefs’] were paid more than their provincial premiers.”

In B.C., 18 earned more than the premier, and in Alberta, 47!

“On one reserve of only 304 members in Atlantic Canada, the chief earned a total tax-free income of $243,000” in 2009.

Given the above, it’s no wonder that a 2013 Ipsos Reid poll revealed that “More than four out of five Canadians don’t want more money sent to aboriginal reserves” unless the handling of funds by aboriginal leaders improves.

John H. Redekop

Abbotsford

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