Bitter Dependency

The Jewish human rights organization B’nai Brith issued a communiqué today calling on the Canadian Government to increase funding for aboriginal communities in the upcoming budget. “B’nai Brith representatives have had the opportunity to see first hand the deplorable living condition of Aboriginals living in northern Manitoba, as well as central Ontario. “

The sentiment is understandable. No one who visits the reserves comes away without an ardent wish to see conditions improved. The question is whether increased governmental funding is the remedy. I sound unfeeling, but let me say it. Giving money dignifies  the giver and demeans the receiver.

Today we read that some of the Indian residential school survivors who recently received “Common Experience Payments” have since committed suicide. Jack Branswell and Ken Meaney, “Native suicides linked to federal payments,” National Post, A1. Did receipt of the payments remind individuals of their vulnerability as youngsters in those schools? Did it reinforce memories of abuse?

Did it forcibly suggest that they are still to this day persons who have to be taken care of? Compensated? Dependency is bitter.

Also in this issue of the Post is Lorne Gunter’s review of Gordon Gibson’s A New Look at Canadian Indian Policy: Respect the Collective – Promote the Individual. One to read. Take this line from the review: “Imagine, for instance, your mayor receiving all the money for local welfare and you having to cozy up to him or her to get your cheque.”

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