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Idle no More

Jan. 8, 2013, 8:55 a.m.
Posts: 148
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

I thought this was a pretty good piece that I read this morning

What if Natives Stop Subsidizing Canada?

There is a prevailing myth that Canada's more than 600 First Nations and native communities live off of money - subsidies - from the Canadian government. This myth, though it is loudly proclaimed and widely believed, is remarkable for its boldness; widely accessible, verifiable facts show that the opposite is true.

Indigenous people have been subsidizing Canada for a very long time.

Conservatives have leaked documents in an attempt to discredit chief Theresa Spence, currently on hunger strike in Ottawa. Reporters like Jeffrey Simpson and Christie Blatchford have ridiculed the demands of native leaders and the protest movement Idle No More. Their ridicule rests on this foundational untruth: that it is hard-earned tax dollars of Canadians that pays for housing, schools and health services in First Nations. The myth carries a host of racist assumptions on its back. It enables prominent voices like Simpson and Blatchford to liken protesters' demands to "living in a dream palace" or "horse manure," respectively.

It's true that Canada's federal government controls large portions of the cash flow First Nations depend on. Much of the money used by First Nations to provide services does come from the federal budget. But the accuracy of the myth ends there.

On the whole, the money that First Nations receive is a small fraction of the value of the resources, and the government revenue that comes out of their territories. Let's look a few examples.

Barriere Lake

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have a traditional territory that spans 10,000 square kilometres. For thousands of years, they have made continuous use of the land. They have never signed a treaty giving up their rights to the land. An estimated $100 million per year in revenues are extracted every year from their territory in the form of logging, hydroelectric dams, and recreational hunting and fishing.

And yet the community lives in third-world conditions. A diesel generator provides power, few jobs are available, and families live in dilapidated bungalows. These are not the lifestyles of a community with a $100 million economy in its back yard. In some cases, governments are willing to spend lavishly. They spared no expense, for example, sending 50 fully-equipped riot police from Montreal to break up a peaceful road blockade with tear gas and physical coercion.

Barriere Lake is subsidizing the logging industry, Canada, and Quebec.

The community isn't asking for the subsidies to stop, just for some jobs and a say in how their traditional territories are used. They've been fighting for these demands for decades.


Attawapiskat has been in the news because their ongoing housing crisis came to the attention of the media in 2011 (MP Charlie Angus referred to the poverty-stricken community as "Haiti at 40 below"). More recently, Chief Theresa Spence has made headlines for her ongoing hunger strike. The community is near James Bay, in Ontario's far north.

Right now, DeBeers is constructing a $1 billion mine on the traditional territory of the ?htaw?piskatowi ininiwak. Anticipated revenues will top $6.7 billion. Currently, the Conservative government is subjecting the budget of the Cree to extensive scrutiny. But the total amount transferred to the First Nation since 2006 - $90 million - is a little more than one percent of the anticipated mine revenues. As a percentage, that's a little over half of Harper's cut to GST.

Royalties from the mine do not go to the First Nation, but straight to the provincial government. The community has received some temporary jobs in the mine, and future generations will have to deal with the consequences of a giant open pit mine in their back yard.

Attawapiskat is subsidizing DeBeers, Canada and Ontario.


The Lubicon Cree, who never signed a treaty ceding their land rights, have waged a decades-long campaign for land rights. During this time, over $14 billion in oil and gas has been removed from their traditional territory. During the same period, the community has gone without running water, endured divisive attacks from the government, and suffered the environmental consequences of unchecked extraction.

Sour gas flaring next to the community resulted in an epidemic of health problems, and stillborn babies. Moose and other animals fled the area, rendering the community's previously self-sufficient lifestyle untenable overnight. In 2011, an oil pipeline burst, spilling 4.5 million litres of oil onto Lubicon territory. The Lubicon remain without a treaty, and the extraction continues.

The Lubicon Cree are subsidizing the oil and gas sector, Alberta and Canada.

What will Canada do without its subsidies?

From the days of beaver trapping to today's aspirations of becoming an energy superpower, Canada's economy has always been based on natural resources. With 90% of its settler population amassed along the southern border, exploitation of the land's wealth almost always happens at the expense of the Indigenous population.

Canada's economy could not have been build without massive subsidies: of land, resource wealth, and the incalculable cost of generations of suffering.

Overall numbers are difficult to pin down, but consider the following: Canadian governments received $9 billion in taxes and royalties in 2011 from mining companies, which is a tiny portion of overall mining profits; $3.8 billion came from exports of hydroelectricity alone in 2008, and 60 per cent of Canada's electricity comes from hydroelectric dams; one estimate has tar sands extraction bringing in $1.2 trillion in royalties over 35 years; the forestry industry was worth $38.2 billion in 2006, and contributes billions in royalties and taxes.

By contrast, annual government spending on First Nations is $5.36 billion, which comes to about $7,200 per person. By contrast, per capita government spending in Ottawa is around $14,900. By any reasonable measure, it's clear that First Nations are the ones subsidizing Canada. (2005 figures; the amount is slightly higher today.)

These industries are mostly take place on an Indigenous nation's traditional territory, laying waste to the land in the process, submerging, denuding, polluting and removing. The human costs are far greater; brutal tactics aimed at erasing native peoples' identity and connection with the land have created human tragedies several generations deep and a legacy of fierce and principled resistance that continues today.

Canada has developed myriad mechanisms to keep the pressure on and the resources flowing. But policies of large-scale land theft and subordination of peoples are not disposed to half measures. From the active violence of residential schools to the targetted neglect of underfunded reserve schools, from RCMP and armed forces rifles to provincial police tear gas canisters, the extraction of these subsidies has always been treated like a game of Risk, but with real consequences.

Break the treaty, press the advantage, and don't let a weaker player rebuild.

Idle? Know More.

The last residential school was shut down in 1996. Canadians today would like to imagine themselves more humane than past generations, but few can name the Indigenous nations of this land or the treaties that allow Canada and Canadians to exist.

Understanding the subsidies native people give to Canada is just the beginning. Equally crucial is understanding the mechanisms by which the government forces native people to choose every day between living conditions out of a World Vision advertisement and hopelessness on one hand, and the pollution and social problems of short-term resource exploitation projects on the other.

Empathy and remorse are great reasons to act to dismantle this ugly system of expropriation. But an even better reason is that Indigenous nations present the best and only partners in taking care of our environment. Protecting our rivers, lakes, forests and oceans is best done by people with a multi-millenial relationship with the land.

As the people who live downstream and downwind, and who have an ongoing relationship to the land, Cree, Dene, Anishnabe, Inuit, Ojibway and other nations are among the best placed and most motivated to slow down and stop the industrial gigaprojects that are threatening all of our lives.

Movements like Idle No More give a population asleep at the wheel the chance to wake up and hear what native communities have been saying for hundreds of years: it's time to withdraw our consent from this dead end regime, and chart a new course.

Jan. 8, 2013, 10:58 a.m.
Posts: 1721
Joined: Dec. 31, 2006

I thought this was a pretty good piece that I read this morning

So what is this article suggesting? All economic activities in rural areas cease? Yes there are areas in Canada where wildlife stocks have decreased or relocated, and that is shitty. But if these resource companies are operating in a responsible way, then jobs are created in the area for those who live locally want to work. These big projects are not short term. Exploration, construction, extraction and reclamation takes many years and could provide good jobs for generations of people.

Let's talk about scale too. Large scale disturbances over hundreds of square kilometres done without the full consent of those living in the area is wrong. But in my experience, the disturbance created from some of these projects (ie mines) is relatively small, let's say 10 square kilometres, and requires written consent from band representatives before proceeding. In an area of 10 000 square km claimed by a very small number of people, seems to me it's asking the local people to share a small portion of their land in return for a big economic boon.

There's got to be more to the story of Barriere Lake and Attawapiskat than this article indicates, so I won't comment of those two areas. From the sounds of the article the Lubicon Cree have not been treated properly and it is an example of how not extract resources.

There's got to be success stories of individuals and bands who have good relations with companies operating in their traditional territories and have steady, meaningful jobs. You just don't hear about them on the news because of the squeaky wheel syndrome.

Jan. 8, 2013, 11:33 a.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

You know, last I checked sipping moose and fish soup is not a hunger strike. Sounds more like some New Years weight loss resolution diet.

Jan. 8, 2013, 12:14 p.m.
Posts: 3250
Joined: Dec. 3, 2002

You know, last I checked sipping moose and fish soup is not a hunger strike. Sounds more like some New Years weight loss resolution diet.

Why don't you give it a try for a month and we'll see how it goes. Place your family in a trailer with 80 other people and you can stop when I decide to do something about it. Don't worry. I've fostered a great relationship with you over the last year.

Also since you're intellectually challenged and I feel the need to assist where I can. Read these:

Jan. 9, 2013, 10:41 a.m.
Posts: 13211
Joined: Nov. 24, 2002

In the last few days, I have been thinking about this thread, several responses and about my own, personal opinion as a foreigner with a rather weird historic background, given the often openly expressed racism in this thread.

What caught my attention was that there are a lot of posts in which a reader can easily susbtitute the words and phrases that have something to do with the First Nations with words and phrases that have something to do with colored people, immigrants, asylum seekers and the like.

Honestly, I am appalled by what quite a few users have posted about First Nations, their living conditions and teir treatment by the Canadian government in this thread.

I am more than equally glad that there are more of you who honestly think that these users should re-evaluate their info and their viewpoint, and that these are in no way representative of a Canada/Britsh Columbia I know and love.

"You don't learn from experience. You learn from reflecting on the experience."
- Kristen Ulmer

Jan. 9, 2013, 10:50 a.m.
Posts: 549
Joined: Sept. 2, 2010

So what is this article suggesting? All economic activities in rural areas cease?

I am confused that this is the take away you got from that article?

Isn't the author simply stating that economic activity is taking place on unseeded land, land arguably subject to first nations right and title, and we all benefit?

I have never had that much of an issue with the $ spent on first nations in Canada. It seems to be pretty cheap rent considering.

Jan. 9, 2013, 11:05 a.m.
Posts: 148
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

I am confused that this is the take away you got from that article?

Isn't the author simply stating that economic activity is taking place on unseeded land, land arguably subject to first nations right and title, and we all benefit?

I have never had that much of an issue with the $ spent on first nations in Canada. It seems to be pretty cheap rent considering.

glad someone got it, I wanted to imply that it went over his head, but I didn't think it was that hard a concept to grasp!

Jan. 9, 2013, 11:27 a.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

Why don't you give it a try for a month and we'll see how it goes. Place your family in a trailer with 80 other people and you can stop when I decide to do something about it. Don't worry. I've fostered a great relationship with you over the last year.

Already tried the institutionalized living method once. So fuck that.

Reality is that when it comes to the problems with the system in place for Aboriginals in Canada has flaws and needs to be looked at. This needs to be done on both sides of this. And none of this is helped when people start asking questions the first thing one gets in response is "your racists" for saying or asking it.

Let's face reality, it's hard to accept a protest about how everyone on her reserve is desperate. Yet she lives in a good home, drives a nice car, husband is paid $850 a day, and so on. So this of course to me doesn't add up. Something is seriously wrong on that end.

When was the last time anyone looked at and updated any sections of the Indian Act? And let's not even talk about the paper pushers.

As has been mentioned before. There is tremendous pressure to not succeed and improve one's life on reserves in southern Canada. That has to be worked on. I don't know how but it has to change. Best example, there is a public school Toronto that is for Aboriginals. Yet if you go to the teachers lounge there is not one aboriginal teacher. Simply because there is not enough. And the reality is that it is the teacher who help pass on their culture and past. Wonder how many know who Tommy Price was? Probably not many. No different then Canada's black community and their history.

Jan. 9, 2013, 11:51 a.m.
Posts: 11972
Joined: June 29, 2006

I have spent a lot of time working this issue over in my head and every time a new protest or conflict arises real solutions seem to be non-existent because there is no real consensus on what the end game is.

We have a few sharp minds on here, passionate views on both sides of the issue so I would like to get a new dialogue going on what everyone would like to see as the "solution". I am not talking about solutions to select problems, but a long term framework that leaves us in a place where the fighting stops, the flow of money into the hands of lawyers is over, and my kids or grandkids talk about this as a sad part of history.

So from POV, I want to see final agreements on who has claim to land within the framework of the Canadian government. I am happy with a situation where the natives groups have special title and rights over their land over say a regular Canadian citizen on their private land, but I want each and every band to own and regulate their property, end of story. This would give them all the royalties as part of it and the Canadian government could still tax these companies in the way they do all businesses in the country.

The problem to getting here as far as I can see comes from both sides. The Canadian government would rather pay the ongoing legal battles than concede and lose the royalties, so decisions for things as simple as saying "I am sorry" are handled by lawyers and not our elected officials. On the other side of the fence the natives bands will not work together to sort out traditional lands and are not willing to compromise. They need to decide once and for all what they want and then be willing to compromise in a grand bargain because like it or not the Canadian government does hold a lot of the cards and fighting these issues for eternity does not help their people.

A proper bargain will cost a lot up front including land and infrrastructure, but having a peaceful co-existence is more than worth it.

Jan. 15, 2013, 11:17 a.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

If it is this bad just amongst the Aoriginal leadership then nothing will change.

In today's Globe Gordon Gibson suggests the best way to move forward is to simply bypass the Aboriginal Chiefs and aim to help the average Aboriginal move forward. Can't find a link to it unfortunately.

Here is an earlier one.

Jan. 15, 2013, 11:56 a.m.
Posts: 404
Joined: June 24, 2003

Yeah, if only those victimy natives would get over the residential school trauma their elders experienced! That sort of abuse doesn't happen now! Life's easy - get a job! [/sarcasm]

From CTV News:

Native children in care surpass residential school era

John Beaucage has given the heartbreak he sees around him a name: the Millennium Scoop.

The First Nations leader was recently hired by the Ontario government to look into aboriginal child welfare and what he found — not just in Ontario, but across the country — was despair.

After decades of wrestling with the impact of the residential school system — and then with the “Sixties Scoop” that placed so many aboriginal children in non-aboriginal homes — First Nations are now facing another tragedy of lost children in the new millennium.

Instead of being at home with their parents, brothers and sisters, tens of thousands of First Nations children are in foster homes, staying with distant relatives or living in institutions.There are more First Nations children in care right now than at the height of the residential school system. That system was a national disgrace that prompted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to apologize for its catastrophic impact on natives.

“It’s a culmination of decades worth of social ills,” Beaucage says.

A disheartening mix of poverty, addiction, history and politics has conspired to separate First Nations children from their parents.

Researchers aren’t certain how many native kids are no longer living with their parents. A major study in 2005 pegged the number at 27,500. Since then, provincial and federal data as well as empirical reports suggest the numbers have risen.

That’s easily double the size of the cohort forced away from their homes and into residential schools during the late 1940s and 50s — a brutal period of Canada’s history that still haunts First Nations families.

There’s no question native children dominate the child welfare system.

Former auditor general Sheila Fraser estimated First Nations children were eight times more likely to be in care than other Canadian kids. She pointed out that in British Columbia, of all the children in care, about half are aboriginal — even though aboriginals are only about eight per cent of the population.

Beaucage’s report says aboriginal people make up about two per cent of the population, but between 10 to 20 per cent of the children in care.

“Given the data I’ve had a chance to see, if anything, it’s an underestimation,” said Nico Trocme, director of McGill University’s Centre for Research on Children and Families.

“It’s getting harder to be a parent in these communities.”

Jeremy Meawasige is on the cusp of becoming the next child in that pile of statistics.

The 16-year-old Mi’kmaq from the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia has myriad challenges: autism, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and a tendency to hurt himself.

But his latest affliction comes courtesy of inter-jurisdictional squabbling.

Ever since his mother had a double stroke last year and was no longer able to give her son the support he needed, she has had to rely on government funded social services.

But with each level of government pointing to the other for support, and his mother turning to band generosity in the meantime, Jeremy is now poised to be sent to an institution far from the only home he has ever known.

“They did an assessment on us, and say Jeremy is at the level where he should be institutionalized. I told them, over my dead body,” said mother Maurina Beadle.

“I’m the only person he will eat for. If you put him in an institution, that’s it.”

But with no one willing to provide long-term funding that would cover the costs of supporting Beadle and Jeremy on reserve, authorities want to send him to an institution outside the province.

His supporters say it’s a classic case of what has become known as Jordan’s Principle.

“Jordan” was Jordan River Anderson, a Cree boy from Manitoba who died in hospital at the age of five as he waited for federal and provincial governments to agree how to pay for his care.

Ottawa and provincial governments have vowed not to let such a thing happen again. They say a child in need of services will receive the services immediately, and the governments will work out the payment scheme later.

But Jeremy’s mother argues that if her son were off-reserve, he would be entitled to far more funding and services than he is receiving now — funding and services that would enable her to keep Jeremy at home where he belongs.

“I’ve decided I’m going to fight for that,” she says.

She has launched a formal court challenge, one that echoes a broader dispute taking place at the Federal Court of Canada.

In that case, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, along with the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, are arguing the discrepancy in funding for child welfare services on reserves versus off reserves constitutes discrimination.

Ottawa contends it’s not fair to compare the two.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the caring society, says she sees case after case of First Nations children in trouble being sent routinely into care because that’s where the funding is instead of trying to help families deal with their problems.

As the lawyers duke it out, laments Beadle, “Jeremy regresses.”

It would be myopic, however, to blame only jurisdictional wrangling and funding discrepancies for the high rates of First Nations children in care.

Expert after expert recognizes that family dysfunction is more broadly rooted in poverty, poor health and the oppressive legacy of the residential school system that robbed the parents of first-hand knowledge of how to raise a family.

“The simplest reason why, the most important reason why, is that these children are living in communities where families are facing enormous hardships,” says McGill’s Trocme. “The supports to bring up kids just aren’t there.”

A child at risk often comes from a home that is over-crowded, with up to four people to a sparse room. The home may not have clean drinking water. It may have mould or boarded-up windows as the house falls into disrepair.

The parents are often not there, or not paying attention. Instead, they’re in their own cycle of trouble, often related to addictions. Or they have not developed the social skills or parenting skills they need to deal with a precarious situation.

In the fridge, there might be some pop or processed food, but little fresh produce.

At school, there would be reading and writing. But not much in the way of library books or gym equipment or things to do after school.

In remote communities, the volunteer network that the urban poor rely on, such as the Salvation Army, shelters or food banks, is virtually non-existent.

In some cases, the child at risk is the victim of violence or abuse. More often than not, when the child welfare system steps in, it’s because of neglect.

Neglect, however, “is not trivial,” Trocme warns. Studies have shown that neglected children have the hardest time moving beyond their troubles, as their cognitive development becomes impaired.

“They have the absolute worst outcomes,” Trocme says.

Still, the Millennium Scoop is not the Sixties Scoop, when children were removed from their homes and adopted by families far from the reserve. There was little discussion then about what would happen to a child once he or she was taken into care.

There is now a recognition that assimilation is not an option, says Beaucage, and there is some attempt to plan for family reunification.

Troubled children are increasingly being removed from their homes, but about half the time, they are placed in other First Nations homes, says Trocme. About 90 per cent of them eventually wind up back home at some point, perhaps as an adult, he says. So the family ties are not being broken as in the past.

“Families don’t disappear when you remove a child,” he says.

The number of First Nations children in the child welfare system is rising. But slowly funding is also on the rise and so is discussion and innovation about how to help them, he said.

In mainstream society, the number of children in care dropped suddenly in the 1970s. That’s when child welfare agencies switched their focus. Instead of removing children from their home as a first resort, they devoted resources to prevention and help for troubled families.

The same approach wasn’t applied toward First Nations, Trocme says, but that is changing.

The federal government has added a new layer of child-welfare funding directed toward prevention. It is also funding a growing number of child welfare agencies run by First Nations themselves.

Many First Nations complain that their other child services are so broke that the prevention dollars are sucked away by other more immediate needs.

But Ottawa points to some success in Alberta, where it invested $98 million over five years for its new approach.

The number of children in the care of First Nations agencies in that province has now stabilized, or even edged down slightly, federal documents show.

Not every province has such a program quite yet, although Ottawa hopes to achieve that by next year.

The federal numbers don’t take into account the children who are in the hands of provincial agencies. And there are pervasive reports of widespread disillusionment and despair at the local level, says Beaucage.

But there are signs at senior levels of government of creative thinking and a willingness to allow First Nations a stronger hand in child welfare, he says.

“There’s a fair bit of flexibility and open-mindedness at the top level,” he said.

“We’re going to have to measure our success in decades and generations.”

Jan. 15, 2013, 5:46 p.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

Yeah, if only those victimy natives would get over the residential school trauma their elders experienced! That sort of abuse doesn't happen now! Life's easy - get a job! [/sarcasm]

All respond to this in two parts

It's all a mess. Just heard a report on this on the local radio and a comment made stood out. That being right now aboriginals like those at Attawpiskit need hard choices made and leadership. Just from what I have read several times I believe the government has tried to create some level of social services and every time the AFN rejects the offer of help.

- Okay, I get it that being forced forced for 5 or more years to go to a school where you no know one. Have no family there or near, nothing familiar to you, being stripped of what made you..well you, and generally forced into something. And barely able to see family at all. Well, unless you are a retard or like that type of abuse. It sucks.

That you come home finally. And are confused because everything has changed. You have no connections to anything and no longer know how to interact with those around you. The lonelyness of having no one to talk to, who can understand what you went through? So you turn further inward and focus on something to either make you feel something or take away the pain. For some it's cutting, others drugs, and in my case excessive volume endurance activity. While people around you either say…"oh he will get over it" or " he/she is ani social". And it continues on and on till you are comfortable in this small world of pain you are in. And fuelled even more by the people you are surrounded by in the same situation.

To the point where you either dig yourself out or are fortunate enough to finally meet the right people outside of your comfortable circle.

Jan. 15, 2013, 6:08 p.m.
Posts: 15633
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

They need to decide once and for all what they want and then be willing to compromise in a grand bargain because like it or not the Canadian government does hold a lot of the cards and fighting these issues for eternity does not help their people.

A proper bargain will cost a lot up front including land and infrrastructure, but having a peaceful co-existence is more than worth it.

Actualy they don't hold most of the cards which is why the Canadian gov has been mismanaging [HTML_REMOVED] putting off dealing with the issues for many years, its like in a court action where the defendant uses delay tactics on the plantiff years (centuries in this case ) hoping they get tired /go way/run out of money

And the solution as you see it is to figuratively speaking pay them off with 24$ worth of beads,blankets and cooking pots like those clever dutch paid for Manhattan

Jan. 15, 2013, 6:42 p.m.
Posts: 3737
Joined: May 23, 2006

And the solution as you see it is to figuratively speaking pay them off with 24$ worth of beads,blankets and cooking pots like those clever dutch paid for Manhattan

Hey! Twenty four bucks was a lot of money in those days!

Linda McQuaig

Freedom of contract. We sell them guns that kill them; they sell us drugs that kill us.

Jan. 16, 2013, 12:29 a.m.
Posts: 4329
Joined: Oct. 24, 2005

I like this guy.

Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos BC speaking in Northern Alberta :

Speaking to a large aboriginal conference and some of the attendees, including a few who hold high office, have straggled in.

'I can't stand people who are late, he says into the microphone. Indian Time doesn't cut it. '
Some giggle, but no one is quite sure how far he is going to go. Just sit back and listen:

'My first rule for success is Show up on time.'
'My No. 2 rule for success is follow Rule No. 1.'
'If your life sucks, it's because you suck.'
'Quit your sniffling.'
'Join the real world. Go to school, or get a job.'
'Get off of welfare. Get off your butt.'

He pauses, seeming to gauge whether he dare, then does.
'People often say to me, How you doin'? Geez I'm working with Indians what do you think?'
Now they are openly laughing ….. applauding. Clarence Louie is everything that was advertised and more.

'Our ancestors worked for a living, he says. So should you.'

He is, fortunately, aboriginal himself. If someone else stood up and said these things - the white columnist standing there with his mouth open, for example - you'd be seen as a racist. Instead, Chief Clarence Louie is seen, increasingly, as one of the most interesting and innovative native leaders in the country even though he avoids national politics.

He has come here to Fort McMurray because the aboriginal community needs, desperately, to start talking about economic development and what all this multibillion-dollar oil madness might mean, for good and for bad.

Clarence Louie is chief and CEO of the Osoyoos Band in British Columbia's South Okanagan. He is 44 years old, though he looks like he would have been an infant when he began his remarkable 20-year-run as chief.. He took a band that had been declared bankrupt and taken over by Indian Affairs and he has turned in into an inspiration.

In 2000, the band set a goal of becoming self-sufficient in five years. They're there.

The Osoyoos, 432 strong, own, among other things, a vineyard, a winery, a golf course and a tourist resort, and they are partners in the Baldy Mountain ski development. They have more businesses per capita than any other first nation in Canada.

There are not only enough jobs for everyone, there are so many jobs being created that there are now members of 13 other tribal communities working for the Osoyoos. The little band contributes $40-million a year to the area economy.

Chief Louie is tough. He is as proud of the fact that his band fires its own people as well as hires them. He has his mottos posted throughout the Rez. He believes there is no such thing as consensus, that there will always be those who disagree. And, he says, he is milquetoast compared to his own mother when it comes to how today's lazy aboriginal youth, almost exclusively male, should be dealt with.

Rent a plane, she told him, and fly them all to Iraq. Dump'em off and all the ones who make it back are keepers. Right on, Mom.
The message he has brought here to the Chipewyan, Dene and Cree who live around the oil sands is equally direct: 'Get involved, create jobs and meaningful jobs, not just window dressing for the oil companies.'

'The biggest employer,' he says, 'shouldn't be the band office.'

He also says the time has come to get over it. 'No more whining about 100-year-old failed experiments.' 'No foolishly looking to the Queen to protect rights.'

Louie says aboriginals here and along the Mackenzie Valley should not look at any sharing in development as rocking-chair money but as investment opportunity to create sustainable businesses. He wants them to move beyond entry-level jobs to real jobs they earn all the way to the boardrooms. He wants to see business manners develop: showing up on time, working extra hours. The business lunch, he says, should be drive through, and then right back at it.

'You're going to lose your language and culture faster in poverty than you will in economic development', he says to those who say he is ignoring tradition.

Tough talk, at times shocking talk given the audience, but on this day in this community, they took it and, judging by the response, they loved it.

Eighty per cent like what I have to say, Louie says, twenty per cent don't. I always say to the 20 per cent, 'Get over it.' 'Chances are you're never going to see me again and I'm never going to see you again' 'Get some counseling.'

The first step, he says, is all about leadership. He prides himself on being a stay-home chief who looks after the potholes in his own backyard and wastes no time running around fighting 100-year-old battles.

'The biggest challenge will be how you treat your own people.'

'Blaming government? That time is over.'

Maybe someone should get him to talk to Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

The best things in life all start with the letter B
Hooray for: Bacon, Bikeys, Boobies, Boards, and Beer!

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