MLI aboriginal affairs contributor Don Sandberg has an Op Ed in today’s National Post that poses a fundamental question: Why are some native communities in Canada prospering while most languish in poverty?
Sandberg, a member of the Norway House Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, spells out what he thinks it will take for prosperity to become the rule, rather than the exception, on native reserves. He warns that the recently announced “consultation” by the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, “better not look in the wrong places or it’ll come up with the same old wrong answers”, as it tries to answer the same question.
In Don’s analysis, it comes down to reserve location, native leadership and governance shackles of the Indian Act and bureaucracy. He writes:
Too many First Nations leaders are too comfortable with the existing situation. They’re afraid of risk. And even those who want to take an entrepreneurial chance are prevented from doing so: Sections 29, 87, 89 and 90 of the Indian Act effectively forbid commercial credit on reserves, making it impossible for outside courts to enforce contracts. Although the Indian Act was not designed to keep us isolated and in perpetual poverty, that’s what it is doing.
Posted by George Young