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Old Posted Mar 26, 2008, 11:28 PM
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We should be bringing more positive things into this thread. Of course there are more negatives than positives, but there are positives and that's a start.

My neighbourhood is largely aboriginals, and is one of the poorest and least educated in Ontario. There are many initiatives to help change that but many of the aboriginals (especially older ones) seem content to continue living the way they are living. The younger generation really seems to want to change though so there is hope for the future. What the government should do is put some of that money into programmes to help aboriginals start their own businesses, or to have education professionals travel to remove First Nations to teach the people there valuable life skills. Aboriginal languages and cultures should be taught in school to help foster understanding among all people to remove the stigma of being aboriginal from society as much as possible. Female students at a school in Fort Frances were video taped mocking a pow-wow, and as a result Couchiching First Nation and the girls' high school had a cultural exchange ceremony, which no doubt improved the students' understanding of aboriginal culture. We need more of that, and it shouldn't have to be triggered with racism. It should just happen!

Additionally, more attention has to be paid to the knowledge that aboriginal people, especially elders, have of the land. The whole mess in Kashechewan could have been avoided if the government had listened to the elders and placed the new community on higher land, away from the flood plain, and located the sewage treatment facility downriver from their water intake pipe. (It's really absurd that this happened; it's not like that is standard practice in other communities). The whole thing in Kash was avoidable! And policing is also a problem. Many of our police are white, don't understand aboriginal culture and as a result are (or at least come off as) being racist. Aboriginal police forces are underfunded, overworked and have terrible working conditions. Only one of the thirty five Nishnawbe Aski Police Service detachments meets building codes. Most of them don't have bathrooms, they have slop buckets! And this is in Canada! More effort has to be done to police aboriginals with respect to their culture and situation. Treating them like shit and throwing them in jail isn't solving anything. We can also learn from the way they deal with their disputes. I can't remember what its called right now but it focuses more on communication, understanding and rehabilitating than accusing and punishing. There are many aspects of if that we could probably benefit from integrating into our own legal system.

We also have to respect their land and what they wish to do with it. Most of the band council of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug is in prison for the next six months because they oppose mining on their own land. There needs to be more co-operation between aboriginals and industrial interests to respect their land and provide opportunities for their people. While I think the mine could have benefits to the people of KI, there appears to have been not enough consultation with the community over the mining activity proposed to occur there, and the way their protest was treated was less than appropriate.

As you can see, there are many issues and many more ways to solve those issues, but we need to talk about it. This thread shouldn't be closed. It just need better moderation to remove statements which contribute nothing to solving these issues, which in my opinion are some of the most pressing in our nation today.
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