Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holding on to History

Justine Hunter is the daughter of Greenpeace Founder, novelist, essayist and TV reporter, the late Bob Hunter.

She has been writing from Victoria and Vancouver Island for years, including her current assignments with the Globe & Mail.

Her lead story this morning
on the problems of a Port Hardy native reserve is very powerful in its simplicity and its horror.

One woman has 19 grandchildren in government care. Most of this woman's children are addicts. 27 people living in a single family house. Most houses carrying deadly moulds.

Last week, Mark Milke wrote a piece describing the simple fact that First Nations people who live off the reserve make on average 40% more income.

I look forward to the day when reservations are a thing of the past, when First Nations people join in the rest of the circus with Germans, Jews, Irish, Latvians et al and continue to honor their past. I am sure it is the height of political incorrectness to say that the very idea of reserves is offensive and that the living proof of their ineffectiveness should be enough for more and more natives to consider abandoning them.


Anonymous said...

Also David, may I suggest tossing the Department Of Indian Affairs into the scrap heap. If there is anything that has perpetuated the conditions described, any more than that Federal Program, it escapes me as to what it could possibly be. Hm, maybe the 300+ self serving Federal/Provincial/Municipal Agencies within a 10 square block area of the D.T.E.S.

Cheers, Gary.

Dave C. said...


It's unfortunate that a medical term like "addiction" has become a label ("addicts") for human beings, conveying as it does an implication that these individuals have "caused" their own suffering. All by themselves.

But considering the conditions on reserves like Port Hardy, and unhealthy environments everywhere, becoming an addict might even be seen as a realistic alternative to facing worse forms of suffering. A mistake in judgement to be sure, but what if you're raised in an environment that doesn't offer viable alternatives? Or one that fails to strengthen your self-esteem so that self-harm is a no-brainer?

Sure, there are those who find the strength to avoid, or even overcome, impoverished environments. But wouldn't it be more productive to provide healthy, nurturing environments for all children in our society?

Why is it, for example, that early childhood education meets such stiff resistance in Canada? Not only by those who view it as "social engineering", but by governments that refuse to provide the necessary financial support. Can there be better "infrastructure" to support our society than a generation of healthy children?

Shouldn't "The Best Place on Earth" be a place to raise all our children?