Nine people killed in house fire in Pikangikum. Pimicikamak Cree Nation has high number of suicide deaths and high number of suicide attempts. One year ago Shamattawa Reserve had four deaths from suicide. The response of course is a few stories in the media outlets and sound bites from both Indigenous politicians and main stream politicians. The issues seem to be similar: poverty, poor housing, absence of resources for youth and need more cash for the communities.
There is a cry used many times by Indian leaders of "Third World Conditions". Sorry but I cringe when I hear someone use the analogy. Canada is part of Global North and it is true the conditions on Reserves are bad. Bad compared to Canada standards. Canada enjoys a disparity of riches which half the world (Global South) does not. So yes Indians have it bad and it should not be so. However to compare the conditions of Reserves to poor countries is wrong. It paints a picture that is not true and diminishes the argument (although righteous) of sorrowful conditions on Reserves.
So what can we do? Or what should our leaders be saying or looking at? What can we do, what can they do to change the situation we find our people in?
We know there are finite resources. We know in the short term no one is going to come and give money. So what to do. The inequities in Canada between the main stream life and the life of a Native person in the Reserve are huge.
We need to try new things. Look at the houses. There are many new innovative creative housing models out there;
0 energy homes
Whether or not these homes could be an alternative to the type of structure currently used in Reserves is beside the point; the point is to think of alternatives. Alternatives to the situation now. There is a man that made a home out of a Round steel storage bin on highway number one in Manitoba. There is a man called the garbage warrior who made a home with recycled material. There are outside the current situation thinking. We are not doing that. Instead we rely on old battle cries and waiting for someone to fix the situation.
So let's stop saying we are Third World (or even the Forth World label) its an embarrassment.
Instead let's say this is what we are going to try, this is what we are considering, this could work.
The lives of our people really depend on a change in outlook by everyone.
We need our kids to be more than a media soundbite.