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DonLever

Idle No More and the Audit of Chief Spence's Band

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I am surprised there is no thread about the Idle No More Movement on this forum. So I am starting one now. What do you think of the Movement?

Today the federal government released an audit of Chief Spence's Attawapaiskat Band.

It found a lack of documentation in 80 percent of transactions. It showed $100 million was given to the band in six years.

http://www.montrealg...4927/story.html

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The federal government will do anything and everything to discredit this movement

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I honestly don't see what the mismanagement of that band has to do with the movement it is unfortunate that one of the founding leaders of the movement has to be involved in those shenanigans but IMO the "movement" is a good one.

It is calling on Canadians and even citizens worldwide to take a stand against the corporate run greed filled politics that run our countries today.

It will be interesting to see how this movement progresses and what comes of it in the future.

That's really all I have to say for now I guess.

Also I guess I really don't acknowledge Spence as a leader in this movement but she has got a lot of attention.

It's pretty stupid how she is putting on a front like she is starving blah blah I want to meet with Harper personally etc.... sounds like a greedy band with greedy leaders trying to get another hundred mill.

Other then that the movement is good and spence and her needs shouldn't be the focus in this movement.

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The federal government will do anything and everything to discredit this movement

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Do not forget that Attawapiskat was under co-management with the AANDC (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) for ten years before the the federal government sought unsuccessfully to put a third party manager in place.

That was found unreasonable by the Federal Court in a decision on August 1, 2012.

The Federal Court said today in a judicial review that it was "unreasonable" for the federal government to appoint a third-party manager in Attawapiskat last fall as the Ontario community was dealing with a housing crisis.

Attawapiskat First Nation had applied to the court for a judicial review of the decision by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to have a third-party manager take control of the community's finances.

The northern Ontario reserve had been under co-management for 10 years before the third-party manager was appointed in November 2011 in response to a housing crisis that generated headlines for weeks.

The community of 2,000 declared a state of emergency last October after a severe housing shortage forced more than two dozen families to live in temporary shelters, some without insulation or plumbing.

"This judicial review confirms, if such confirmation were needed, that decisions made in the glare of publicity and amidst politically charged debate do not always lead to a reasonable resolution of the relevant issue," Justice Michael Phelan wrote.

He said there is no evidence to support the accusations from critics that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Duncan and other cabinet members acted in a reprehensible way, and said the problem in this case lies not "at the feet of the political masters, but in the hands of the bureaucracy."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/08/01/pol-attawapiskat-court-ruling.html

According to that decision the judge was concerned that the AANDC bureaucracy had not in fact identified any substantive reasons why the change to a third party manager was warranted despite the fact was the government bureaucracy was a co-manager for 10 years.

Maybe the persons who should be fired are the AANDC bureaucrats involved as co-managers because pretty obviously they were not doing their jobs to provide professional assistance to the elected and appointed band administrators.

Mind you had the audit that came several weeks afterwards been available, perhaps that might have changed the decision.

However the question remains what the heck were the AANDC bureaucrats doing while the massive deficiencies identified by the audit were taking place? They should have been helping to put proper record keeping and accounting systems in place.

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Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's take on the Theresa Spence hunger strike and the underlying issues.

Chief Spence's hunger strike, carried out with dignity and determination, and the broader Idle No More campaign, which has gone beyond the traditional politics both within and outside the Aboriginal community, are based on a deep sense of frustration, of promises broken, of conditions that no people in Canada should have to accept. Federal and provincial governments face a fire of resentment and anger not next time, but this time. To ignore it, as the Conservatives and some provinces have done, is to court disaster.

It is a universal in life that people want recognition and respect. The deeper meaning of last year's summit, and the Prime Minister's eloquent apology in the House of Commons, is that there is a hunger for this respect, and appreciation when it is offered and followed with effective action. The Prime Minister faces a deep challenge. Many in his party are opposed to the recognition and constitutional protection that Aboriginal people have achieved, and to its implications. At the same time, the old bromides of assimilation and "let's concentrate on education and the economy" completely ignore the aspirations for self-government, autonomy, and a real transfer of power and resources that have the deepest roots in today's aboriginal politics. Mr. Harper's apology in the House of Commons, and the summit he called last year, have simply not been followed by effective action.

...

The issues Chief Spence is raising -- issues of terrible living conditions, of deep neglect, of poverty and powerlessness -- will not go away, and will not disappear in the face of attack. They are the shame of our nation and they must be addressed.

The Conservatives have rejected replacing the Indian Act with a real transfer of power, and the implementation of the self government agreements which all Canadian governments agreed to do in Charlottetown twenty years ago. They show no understanding of the significance of treaties and the meaning of a "nation to nation" relationship.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bob-rae/bob-rae-theresa-spence_b_2426382.html?utm_hp_ref=canada

BTW someone should remind Bob Rae that the Charlottetown Accord was rejected in a public referendum.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendums_in_Canada#Referendum_on_the_Charlottetown_Accord

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can someone please remind me again why my tax dollars have to go as not only free handouts, but free handouts in addition to whatever % the corrupt chiefs decide to siphon off for themselves??

what is the rationale that in 2013, certain groups of individuals still think they are more privilidged/special then everyone else?

why is it racist for everyone in canada to use the "i was here first" card except for aboriginals??

some politically sensitive/but logical questions that i doubt anyone could really answer.

this sense of entitelment must end. its never going to be enough, there will always be more people asking for more

the "idle no more" movement should really look in the mirror if they want to look for people to blame.

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can someone please remind me again why my tax dollars have to go as not only free handouts, but free handouts in addition to whatever % the corrupt chiefs decide to siphon off for themselves??

what is the rationale that in 2013, certain groups of individuals still think they are more privilidged/special then everyone else?

why is it racist for everyone in canada to use the "i was here first" card except for aboriginals??

some politically sensitive/but logical questions that i doubt anyone could really answer.

this sense of entitelment must end. its never going to be enough, there will always be more people asking for more

the "idle no more" movement should really look in the mirror if they want to look for people to blame.

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Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with what can be accomplished by this movement and the questions that are being asked by them before posting?

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can someone please remind me again why my tax dollars have to go as not only free handouts, but free handouts in addition to whatever % the corrupt chiefs decide to siphon off for themselves??

what is the rationale that in 2013, certain groups of individuals still think they are more privilidged/special then everyone else?

why is it racist for everyone in canada to use the "i was here first" card except for aboriginals??

some politically sensitive/but logical questions that i doubt anyone could really answer.

this sense of entitelment must end. its never going to be enough, there will always be more people asking for more

the "idle no more" movement should really look in the mirror if they want to look for people to blame.

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I trust that answers your questions.

I have a question... do they not teach this very basic part of our history and our laws as part of the public school educational curriculum?

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Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with what can be accomplished by this movement and the questions that are being asked by them before posting?

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you did not understand my question at all.

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I understood the question(s) perfectly well.

Maybe you simply did not like the answers?

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From day 1, Spence has been discrediting herself. Missing money ($104 million!), giving cushy jobs to romantic partners, "hunger" strikes, refusing to meet with key people such as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister John Duncan while settling for third-party leader candidate Trudeau Jr.

If this was a municipal government, the entire council and mayor would be sacked, and audits conducted to find how hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared. Alas, this is a native issue, and because of that, any criticism of Idle No More means you are a racist, anti-native, pro-oppressionist, Harperite, and anything of that realm.

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i did not ask for the legal justification of why it's happening.

I was already quite aware that it's the law, and a google search away from getting the exact text associated with that.

I asked rhetorically about the moral justifications of it.

PS. constitutional laws are not set in stone. there have been many laws that have been altered with the passing of time.

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An interesting article from Andrew Coyne on the Idle No More movement - note how it is in many ways similar to the Occupy Movement.

If it does nothing else, the Idle No More movement of the past few weeks will have provided a valuable lesson in why so many aboriginal Canadians remain so chronically destitute — why progress has been so frustratingly elusive, and why it is likely to remain so.

The movement, with its vast and ill-defined agenda, its vague and shifting demands, its many different self-appointed spokespersons, is open to any number of different interpretations. But the absolutist rhetoric, the dismissal of dissenting opinion as so much “racism,” and above all, the rigid insistence on adhering to the same approaches that have so signally failed to date, do not suggest a happy future for aboriginal relations.

Ostensibly the movement’s ire is directed at the Harper government, though for reasons that are not widely understood. The four Saskatchewan women whose protests first ignited the movement may have been focused on Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill — notably its provisions relaxing federal oversight of navigable waterways and lowering the threshold of democratic approval needed for bands to authorize development on reserve land.

But as more and more putative leaders have jumped in front of the parade, from Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence to the Mi’kmaw activist and Ryerson University Chair in Indigenous Governance Pam Palmater, the checklist has expanded to include the whole of the Harper government’s approach to aboriginal issues. Contrary to early media reports, it is not Harper’s neglect that inspires their wrath, but rather his activism.

In Palmater’s writings, the Harper agenda is nothing less than the deliberate “genocide” of aboriginal peoples, in the most literal sense of the word: not merely their “assimilation” or “termination,” in the ambiguous terminology preferred by other native leaders, but their complete elimination, “socially, culturally, legally and physically.” Though her most oft-cited specific evidence of this is the reduction in funding to aboriginal activist groups, she is in no doubt that the Harper agenda is about “getting rid of Indians once and for all.”

Nor is she alone in this belief. Here’s Daniel Wilson, former senior director with the Assembly of First Nations: “Indigenous death and despair serve the government’s purpose … through underfunding and interference with local governance, the current government is starving people off reserves [to] make it easier for the government’s friends in the oil, gas and mining industries to go about their business unhindered.”

How is this murderous agenda being pursued? Among the dozen or so bills activists cite are the following: Bill S-8: The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act; Bill S-2: The Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Right Act; Bill S-6: The First Nations Elections Act; and Bill C-27: The First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Oh, and: Bill S-212: The First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill. Those monsters.

If you are puzzled how providing safe drinking water or recognizing self-government add up to genocide, well, you need to take responsibility for your own racism. But here’s the thing. If you interpret Harper’s motives and actions in such a fantastic light, then it is not just his government you must denounce: it is anyone who collaborates with it.

And indeed, the longer Idle No More has gone on, the more it has become clear it is not so much a dispute between aboriginal Canadians and the Harper government, but between rival factions in the aboriginal community: between modernizers such as former chief Manny Jules, chairman of the First Nations Tax Commission, or Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo, who are prepared to work with the Harper government, and what one might call the fundamentalists, such as Palmater.

The fundamentalists represent the traditional agenda of aboriginal activists, focused heavily on the legal and political arena. In this model, the advancement of aboriginal peoples is at heart a collective matter, based on treaty rights, land claims and reserves under communal property ownership.

The modernizers would not, I think, deny the importance of much of this. But their focus is less on abstract constitutional principles and more on giving individual natives and bands the tools they need to participate in a modern, market-based economy: education, for example, and property rights, a particular concern of Jules (he is co-author of Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights).

For Palmater and her followers, this is at best weakness, at worst betrayal. “The days of waiting for the AFN to do something are over,” she writes. Last year’s Crown-First Nations Gathering was a particular object of scorn: “Clearly, the AFN has crossed the line and no longer works on our behalf.” The Joint Action Plan that emerged from it, with its emphasis on education, accountability and economic development, is “the beginning of the end if we let it happen.”

Having been defeated last summer in her bid to unseat Atleo as AFN chief, Palmater evidently sees Idle No More as a chance for a do-over. Atleo, she writes, is in the “same category” as Senator Patrick Brazeau, “who acts as Harper’s mouthpiece tearing apart First Nations at every chance he gets.” Still worse is Jules, “who now promotes the destruction of reserves and the biggest assimilation policy plan created in recent years.”

So as Harper and aboriginal leaders prepare to meet again, we should be under no illusion this will settle anything. For those, such as Palmater, who regard “individual opportunity” as “code words,” who insist the way forward is to return to “our traditional ways of governing, learning, trading, sustaining and relating,” such co-operation is not the solution. It’s the problem.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/01/07/andrew-coyne-idle-no-more-movement-is-a-dispute-between-rival-factions-in-the-aboriginal-community/

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A year ago the CBC and Adrienne Arsenault were on site and the problems with the leadership were obvious.

As Jonathan Kay writes in Six lessons from a brilliant, scathing year-old CBC report on Attawapiskat’s mismanagement:

CBC News made headlines on Monday by publicizing a scathing audit report on Attawapiskat, the impoverished northern Ontario Cree community led by hunger-striking chief Theresa Spence.

Yet you’ll find an even more searing indictment of Attawapiskat’s leadership in a televised report from the CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault. That segment is a year old, but it’s getting a new life on the internet thanks to a Twitter-based resurrection campaign led by blogger Richard Klagsbrun.

Watch the video: It’s shocking how many important lessons from Attawapiskat Ms. Arsenault manages to pack into just eight minutes.

Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1ynaC8f5ues

And the remainder of Kay's article that lays out the six lessons:

  1. The idea that the destitution of far-flung First Nations such as Attawapiskat is a result of Ottawa’s neglect is wrong. Ms. Arsenault’s quick tour of Attawapiskat — a place that then was supposed to have been in a housing crisis — shows a half-dozen well-constructed houses with no one living in them. When questioned about this total waste of resources, Chief Theresa Spence has no real answer.

  2. In fact, Ms. Arsenault’s reporting suggests that the real problem in Attawapiskat is Ms. Spence’s own incompetent leadership — in which capacity she is aided by her live-in boyfriend Clayton Kennedy, who serves as the community’s manager. Neither apparently can be bothered to fill out the paperwork required to get needed resources from Ottawa, or even supply basic accounting information. When Ms. Arsenault bluntly asks Mr. Kennedy whether its appropriate for the chief’s unelected romantic partner to be running the place, he answers that it’s “nobody’s business.” (A decade ago, Art Eggleton got thrown out of federal cabinet for awarding a research project to a former girlfriend. Yet Ms. Spence has become a “grass roots” hero after giving an even cushier job to her current boyfriend.)

  3. Ms. Arsenault didn’t intend to profile Attawapiskat’s economy. But she did a good job of it nonetheless. Take a look at every backdrop: Every home is made from materials transported from hundreds of miles away. The temperatures are frigid, so every home goes through gallons of heating fuel daily. All the chairs and paneling in the leaders’ conference room, all the North Face coats, all of the snowmobiles and hockey equipment — it’s all flown in from Timmins or elsewhere, or trucked in on winter roads at high expense. This might be one of the most expensive places in the world to operate a human settlement. Yet the town itself has zero private economy — except for a few cafés and the like. There is a major diamond mine in the region. Yet we do not meet anyone who has any sort of high-tech job skills, or any way of achieving them in Attawapiskat. Put aside culture for a moment: In economic terms, Attawapiskat exists as a pure sinkhole for resources produced elsewhere.

  4. Perhaps the most pitiful scene in the whole piece is the one in which Ms. Arsenault examines the masses of boxes containing (apparently useful) donations from concerned Canadians. Yet until Ms. Aresenault came around, no one had even bothered opening them up: Ms. Spence complains that she couldn’t get “volunteers” to do the job. That in itself is a damning indictment of the state of civil society in Attawapiskat. We are always told that the preservation of reserves is a great way to maintain First Nations culture. But the opposite is true: The best way to destroy a group’s spirit of civic solidarity is to turn the economy into an outsider-funded cargo cult; whereby the locals’ only “job” is to sit around waiting for handouts — to such extent that apparently even rousing themselves to rip open cardboard and plastic is seen as too taxing.

  5. Far from being idolized by Attawapiskat residents, Ms. Spence seems to be regarded with a mixture of suspicion and exasperation — in large part due to her cronyism. Local reserve resident Lindy Mudd, interviewed at length by Ms. Arsenault, states quite clearly that he is ashamed by the manner in which Ms. Spence has made Attawapiskat a poster-child of native poverty. Ironically, Ms. Spence is far more popular with naïve, white Naomi Klein types who venerate her from afar as a sort of Gaian martyr than with the people who actually have suffered under her incompetence.

  6. Ms. Arsenault gave Ms. Spence and her lover a chance to address all of these points on air. And yet whenever given this opportunity, all they could do was assert self-righteous but extremely vague complaints about Ottawa — even when they were asked explicitly about decisions they had made that had resulted in the squandering of federal aid. This itself is a telling spectacle: We have gotten to the stage in First Nations politics whereby you no longer even have to string a logical sentence together to connect a problem on the ground with Ottawa’s blundering or malfeasance. Turning the feds into all-purpose bogeymen is convenient for Ms. Spence, but it also effectively destroys the very idea of sovereign native self-government — since the very notion of a government responsible for its own citizens is ludicrous if every problem is casually passed off as the white man’s fault.

Attawapiskat gets about $17-million a year from Ottawa. But as the audit report shows, we have very little idea how that money is spent. “In a letter dated Sept. 20, 2012, that was written by Deloitte to Chief Theresa Spence and copied to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, [the] auditing firm says that of 505 transactions reviewed, more than 400 lacked proper documentation,” CBC News reports. “The letter to Spence also says there is ‘no evidence of due diligence on the part of Attawapiskat of funding provided by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for housing projects and Health Canada for health-related projects.’ ”

Nothing in the CBC report, or in Ms. Arsenault’s year-old report, suggest that Ms. Spence or the people around her are stealing money. Instead, they collectively present an image of a massively unproductive, high-cost, sociologically infantilized and dysfunctional welfare state, run by poorly trained and educated locals who have little political legitimacy and no tax base — all of it overseen by an Ottawa bureaucracy that is itself beleaguered and only semi-functional.

The idea that these problems can be solved by giving more power and more money to leaders such as Ms. Spence is nonsensical. What we need instead is a candid discussion about whether communities such as this should remain in existence as subsidized entities.

Mr. Mudd says “There’s nothing here for my kids.” He plans to move away. Like other people interviewed by Ms. Arsenault, he wonders openly about whether anyone has a future in Attawapiskat.

The rest of us should be asking the same questions (and not just Ezra Levant, who’s been highlighting this stuff since 2011) — never mind the accusations of cultural genocide that surely will follow.

Ms. Spence is attracting the lion’s share of attention with her hunger strike in Ottawa. But the real issues lie 950 km away, in the well-funded wasteland she calls home.

http://fullcomment.n...-mismanagement/

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I was at Richmond Centre on Sunday and there was weird loud noises near the Starbucks. Turns out it was the Idle no more movement and police had to escort them out after they were rambling and banging their drums for about an hour. It's not like they were forced to leave, it was just that the police led them out of the mall after they let them do their thing..

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