Friday, May 04, 2007

Last Saturday, April 28th, about 80 marchers began a trek from the source of the City of Winnipeg's aqueduct which supplies water for the City about 137 kilometers to the west. Their draw attention to an almost 100 year old injustice whereby the City of Winnipeg acquired the right to import water from the traditional native lands around Shoal Lake. In 1913 the government of Canada arbitrarily split the lands of the Shoal Lake community into three parts and two distinct "bands" under Canadian law. In 1917 the Shoal Lake No 40 First Nation Community was presented with a fiat accompli as their homes were isolated on a man made island due to construction of a channel that cut their town off from the mainland. Since then they have had to depend upon a ferry to reach the mainland where title is held by Shoal Lake 39 Band. The artificial division of the band has resulted in a large bill from #39 which is virtually bankrupt as they try to shift their burdens to the other Band. What Band # 40 is demanding is the construction of an access road to their community and preferably an all weather causeway to the island which is isolated during freeze up and break up. Band #39 has also sent a bill for "parking" of the #40 emergency medical vehicle which has to be parked on the mainland for logistical reasons. The marchers arrived in Winnipeg yesterday and held a press conference with a backdrop of the planned Human Rights Museum at the forks. What they are saying is that it is all well and good that a museum be built commemorating human rights be built here but attention should also be paid to ongoing violations of human rights very close to the self-congratulatory museum.
The people of Band #40 refuse to blame their cash strapped neighbours, and want what is actually their due considering the situation that the Canadian government placed them in in the early 20th century without any compensation. For the local press report on this event see the Winnipeg Free Press article. For another view see the Friends of Grassy Narrows site(also in our Links board under 'Other Interesting Sites).
Nobody seems to know exactly how many people live at the Band #40 reserve. The Friends of Grassy Narrows say "roughly 250 people". As of July, 2006 the Department of Indian and Norther Affairs reported a population of 498. On March 22, 2007 they reported a total of 526 residents. Not astonishing as some band members live off reserve, but the REALLY interesting report is from Statistics Canada who report a population of ZERO on their site. You know why. Stats Can cannot be bothered to send enumerators to the ends of the earth. So it's "zero". Keep this in mind when they threaten you with criminal penalties for not filling in the census form. Put in the proper effort guys and maybe you might be looked on with less cynicism.
Another little interesting Molly Note refers to a report from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs dated March 22nd, 2007. It's entitled 'Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nations Communities'. The first thing that struck Molly on reading this "report" was the way that the bosses at the department demanded that the Canadian government be referred to ie "Canada's New Government" . This is not a typo. It reoccurs throughout the report. Note the capital letters. Does the new Conservative government claim rights to either divinity or a new nationality such that they can capitalize their rule ? I can expect such nonsense from leftist sectarians, but it's disconcerting to see this little attention grabber used in what is supposed to be a dispassionate bureaucratic report.
Another thing that struck Molly when reading this triumphalist report about how the federal Conservatives are "solving" the problem of contaminated water on Canadian Indian reserves is a certain ambiguity to the word "solved" . How are the problems defined as "solved" ? Is it simply defining "solved" as a new definition of the word ? The phrase "certified oversight" reoccurs during the paper, and it is particularly apt for the Shoal lake community which has been under a "drinking water advisory since Dec 6th, 2000. Yes indeed !!!!!!!!the people whose land was expropriated so that Winnipeg could have a reliable source of clean water have no access to same. The evidence of "progress" on this matter was that on May 5th, 2003 "a consultant is being selected to resign the new water treatment plant". Construction is proposed to begin in the spring of 2008 with a hopeful completion date in 2010. What is "certified oversight" ??? This report whines that "certified oversight, which would result in a lower risk rating for the community has been offered to the First Nation. However, the First Nation has not responded"
A 'Molly Prize' is offered for the astute reader who can see the grammatical error in the above quotation from the government. Anyways, let's take a breather here. You can get your "risk rating" reduced by accepting a title of "certified oversight" even though NOTHING will be accomplished in the real world for years to come ???????? Oh yes. I'm sure. Seems like a great way to redefine problems out of existence for the-once more note the capitalization- Canada's New Government.
Wow guys ! Don't make the manure too obvious.

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