Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Text Size

Is Stephen Harper trying to provoke a confrontation with First Nations?

By Daniel Wilson (blog)

You have to wonder if Stephen Harper isn’t actively trying to provoke serious conflict with First Nations.

There has been over 4 months of ongoing protest, hunger strikes, long distance marches by Indigenous youth, heated negotiations with First Nation leadership, vociferous opposition party criticism in Parliament, and widespread calls for action from non-Indigenous people across Canada.

During that time, his personally chosen First Nation representative in the Senate was suspended from his position and charged with a criminal offence, his Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had to resign in disgrace, the replacement Minister has stumbled out of the blocks, and there has been no progress on any of the issues behind it all.

He has stonily refused to address any of the concerns raised by the Idle No More movement over his unconstitutional legislative agenda.

The tables on treaties and comprehensive claims that were the sole product of the January 11th meeting between Harper and AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo have produced no results to date.

First Nations objections to resource development projects from the Enbridge and Keystone XL pipelines to the Ring of Fire continue undiminished and unaddressed.

New, unilaterally imposed conditions on funding have prompted several First Nations to refuse to agree to receive money for essential services and prompted Elder Raymond Robinson’s recent hunger strike, now in its third day.

A breakdown in federal-provincial funding arrangements for First Nations policing has brought about the cancellation of service in 26 communities across Quebec and threaten a similar crisis across northern Ontario where conditions have led to the suicide of 2 Nishnabe Aski Nation police officers.

And with the release of Aboriginal Affairs’ Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), we see that departmental spending actually will go down by over $500 million next year and more than $1.5 billion before the next election in 2015.

In my last blog, I detailed $73 million in new spending identified in the recent budget. It turns out that this will not match the cuts coming over the next two years.

Planned spending of $8.4 billion in 2012-13 will fall to $6.9 billion in 2014-15, an 18% reduction.

Core services in the area of education, infrastructure and social development – the programmes that have created and maintained third world conditions on reserve – will fall by a total of $10.4 million. This includes small increases in education and infrastructure such as housing and water, doing little to address existing need, let alone growth due to inflation and population increases. The overall reduction is due to a cut in social assistance funding of $97.4 million which should tell us all what Harper expects to happen as a result of his new workfare program.

And First Nations governance, an area where the Harper government has focused its criticism and the subject of the recently passed First Nations Accountability Act, will be cut by 15%. No doubt Mr. Harper feels this is the best way to support the new reporting requirements.

Of particular note, the ministry’s RPP rates the “Aboriginal Relationship Risk as very high”, with “mitigation strategies” that amount to more funding cuts. Specifically, “co-operative relations” will see a reduction of $534.9 million and a 38% reduction in staff, a dubious way of managing the department’s highest risk.

Meanwhile, departmental staffing for internal services such as communications and legal counsel – where a whopping 31% of Aboriginal Affairs staff work – will be reduced by only 5%. Of course, none of those services go to First Nations.

Certainly, those employees will be needed to fight the numerous court cases Harper’s policies are engendering. Not that his Aboriginal Affairs department is expecting them. In fact, the RPP forecasts a reduction in current total liabilities (now over $14 billion) while admitting that “new claims and litigation and new environmental liabilities cannot be reasonably foreseen or quantified and have therefore been excluded from the forecast.”

Given these circumstances, what can be reasonably foreseen is mounting conflict, more litigation and protest certainly, but the increasingly real risk of outright confrontation. The only question is whether this isn’t in fact the Prime Minister’s intention.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins