Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has reportedly ‘taken control’ of Pine Creek First Nation in western Manitoba, placing the reserve under third-party management.
According to an article in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press, INAC decided to get rid of the Band Council last July, because of what they saw as ‘a total breakdown in band government’.
“The situation at Pine Creek First Nation has severely deteriorated to the point [where] the First Nation is unable to function,” states a letter dated July 17 from regional Indian Affairs officials.
An example, INAC “alleges that safety standards fell apart and the health of the 1,191 people living on the reserve was threatened when water tanks on water trucks weren’t cleaned anymore. The trucks deliver the only potable water on the reserve,” says the free press article.
The Band is also said to have ‘ruined’ a relationship with the only bank willing to lend it money, because of ‘Personality conflicts’.
Aswell, says INAC, ‘there was a breakdown of a hard-won agreement on council to pay down a $1.2-million deficit with tobacco tax profits and VLT gaming revenues.’
‘”Administration of programs and services are largely dysfunctional. (There’s) direct involvement of councillors in administration. Staff are intimidated, mixed directions are sent out to staff and political agendas take priority over services. There is no clear separation between administration and politics,” the federal government’s letter stated.’
It’s not clear how long Pine Creek will remain under TPM. It may not be for too long, since the band council’s two-year terms are about to expire, which means a new election must be held.
Is it just me, or does this take over sound completely unreasonable? Ok, sure, there’s a few problems at Pine Creek that need to be addressed — but I mean, show me a government that isn’t dysfunctional!
Just look at Canada… The Federal government systematically ignores the health and safety of tens of thousands of Indigenous People who are effected by a plethora of dangerous toxins and heavy metals, who’s INAC-funded homes are filled with black mould and asbestos, who are suffering from a massive shortage of clean water (as of September 30th, 2008, there are 106 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory) and who are regularly forced to sacrifice their lands because the government refuses to consult them before they sell it off to resource-hungry corporations.
Keeping in mind that this is a small fraction of the issues facing Indigenous Nations in this troubled northern state, compare them to the few problems in Pine Creek and ask yourself: who’s the one that should really be placed under Third Party Management here?
It sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? Especially since Canada considers itself a democratic state. I guess it just goes to show you that Indigenous People truely aren’t a part of Canada. Or at least, that Canada believes first nation communities are the equivalency of a department store… just waiting to be bought, sold, traded, seized and torn down for a brand new parking lot.
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