Elizabeth May writes in ‘The Attawapiskat audit: Distracting us from a legacy of failure’ that former Auditor General Sheila Fraser dedicated ‘much of her final report to the unacceptable multiple failures of the federal government in delivering on goals in meeting minimum obligations to First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.’ Fraser added, ‘ “I am profoundly disappointed to note … a disproportionate number of First Nations people still lack the most basic services that other Canadians take for granted.” She did not point fingers at the individual communities, but rather at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for relying on vague policy.’ As we see in this NFB film, what is happening in Attawapiskat is happening coast to coast to coast. image of spence by fred chartrand, of may by karen fox.
May concludes that ‘just as the Idle No More movement was not an off-shoot of Chief Spence’s hunger strike, neither is the audit … relevant … to the … neglect of the treaty obligations … of Canada…. Numerous Supreme Court decisions make it clear that the federal government, as well as private sector corporations with an eye of First Nations’ lands and resources, have a duty to consult. Yet, numerous legislative changes made by the Harper Conservatives over the last year had no advance consultation, despite significant impact on First Nations. Both Omnibus bills, C-38 and C-45, had significant impacts on First Nations, without consultation…. From neglect, we seem to have moved seamlessly to an assault on First Nations, as though we could erase Constitutionally-enshrined rights should they stand in the way of mines, dams and pipelines.’
She asks, ‘Could we not begin to discuss the constitutional protection of nature itself? Could we not start designing a path to replace the Indian Act, establish a set of meaningful goals to ensure that all children on this piece of Turtle Island, indigenous and non-indigenous, have equal access to proper education, safe drinking water, decent health care and safe housing? Could we not live up to our promises of treaties past and lay the groundwork to a future premised on the respectful sharing of this land?’