Fixing the native economy

Does Canada’s oldest struggle have a new hope in Chuck Strahl?

by Aaron Wherry

Fixing the native economyIt was a slogan that epitomized a party that altered Canadian politics: “So you don’t trust politicians. Neither do we.” Those words—the first sentence in bold black font, the second in green—blared from the first page of a 1994 pamphlet summarizing Reform party policy. Below were two paragraphs of explanation, then one final credo: “Let’s change the system.”

This past June, nearly 16 years after he was first elected among an inaugural class of 52 Reform MPs, three years after he became a minister of the Crown, and a year after he was assigned perhaps the heaviest portfolio in cabinet, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl stood before an audience of Aboriginal and business leaders at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa and stirred the echoes. “I must say I’ve been a member of Parliament for 16 years almost and if simply making promises to Aboriginal people was the way to prosperity, they would be the most prosperous people in the world,” he said. “I’m not going to pretend that government, that any governments, Aboriginal or the federal government, public governments, have all the answers. I know as you do that we don’t have the market cornered when it comes to good ideas. In fact, that old phrase, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’ that strikes terror into people’s hearts, I realize.”

There was much more of this. He talked of “getting a better bang for our buck” and “return on investment.” “We realize,” he said, “we can’t tackle each and every problem that requires attention by simply throwing money at it, throwing it around like pixie dust hoping that some of it will miraculously cause something new to happen or something magical to happen.”

These were not, perhaps, the sorts of things one is supposed to say when talking about what is generally regarded as a humanitarian crisis. But here, again, Strahl wants to change the system. “It’s meant to point in a new direction,” Strahl says now, seated in his Parliament Hill office. “There’s not much doubt about it.”

His speech that day previewed what Strahl unveiled shortly thereafter—a “federal framework for Aboriginal economic development.” It is a plan that promises government collaboration, partnership with the private sector, skills development and easier access to capital. “One of the problems has been, in the past, is that there’s one place to go for your solution to your problem,” he says. “There’s only one thing to do, that’s get on the blower and dial 1-800-FEDS.”

He talks of multilateral agreements, private investment, and making Aboriginals full members of the national economy. When a community asks for funding, he says, he wants to hear first about what other partners have agreed to invest—something, he maintains, he demands of any applicant in his B.C. riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon. The Aboriginal population, he says, is eager to be involved, and corporations are equally ready to do business.

Strahl’s optimism was seconded earlier this summer by economists at TD Bank. With lengthy caveats about the challenges faced and the mess of obstacles that must be overcome, economists Derek Burleton and Don Drummond reported that “the winds of change may have started to blow in the right direction.” These winds, they wrote, include Supreme Court decisions demanding Aboriginal input into natural resource development on their land, burgeoning Aboriginal entrepreneurship, recognition within the private sector that the Aboriginal population presents untapped opportunity ahead of a looming labour shortage, and greater government focus on the need to improve education standards. “We’re not saying that we’ve seen enormous change already,” Burleton says, “but a lot of the pieces have been falling into place and I think if there’s been a time for transformative change, now is probably the best opportunity of achieving that.”

The caveats, of course, are many and seem to multiply each week. Reserves in Manitoba have struggled this summer to deal with the H1N1 virus. A survey released last month by Statistics Canada showed that Aboriginal adults made up 22 per cent of Canada’s prison inmates, despite counting for only three per cent of the general population. A border crossing near Cornwall, Ont., was recently blocked in a dispute with Akwesasne Mohawks. A year ago, the House of Commons paused to apologize for the scourge of residential schools, but the truth and reconciliation committee established to sort through that dark history soon fell apart (it has since been restarted). This spring, the House went silent again as Liberal MP Todd Russell rose, read the names of five of a reported 520 Aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered since 1970, and asked for a full inquiry.

“The road to hell,” says Russell, a Métis from Labrador, “is paved with good intentions.” He is circumspect to say the least, doubtful of the government’s genuine interest in working with the Aboriginal population and hesitant to declare an answer found. “Economic development within itself can be a means to enhancing the life conditions of Aboriginal peoples, but it’s very hard to concentrate on entrepreneurial activities when, as leaders, many leaders in a lot of Aboriginal activities are dealing with overcrowding or water and sewer [problems] . . . when you’re dealing with education that is not on a par with the rest of Canadian society, when you’re dealing with things like H1N1,” he says.

Russell notes the government’s unique constitutional responsibilities to First Nations and worries too that the government will ultimately be picking “winners and losers”—rewarding some communities, but leaving others only further behind.

Grand Chief Edward John of Tl’azt’en Nation in British Columbia sees initiative in Aboriginal communities, and agrees with the need to find solutions beyond the federal government. But he says disputes over land remain in the way. “The proof is in the pudding, they say. And we have to see the evidence of that pudding,” he says. “It’s not that we want more government handouts. If we had the land and resources and were able to develop those, we’d be in a far better place.”

The relationship between Aboriginals and this government has been strained—notably by the scrapping of Paul Martin’s Kelowna accord and Canada’s refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People—and good-faith collaboration would seem to be high on the list of demands. But Strahl may find some agreement with Shawn Atleo, the newly elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, whose campaign platform describes “education, entrepreneurship and work” as “the new whale.” And on general philosophy, at least, there may be some wider agreement, even optimism. “It’s not like we’re sitting back and talking about woe be me. We’ve actually taken the bull by the horns and said, ‘Come hell or high water, we’re going to make a difference in our communities,’ ” John says. “We’re going to bring in governments, we’re going to bring in industry, we’re going to bring in anyone who can work with us to improve the situation for our peoples.”

If there is a minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet capable of selling something new on the subject of Canada’s oldest struggle, it may be Strahl. Bob Rae has deemed him one of the best performers in the House of Commons. Equal parts folksy and stern, his metaphors are mostly food-based—“soup to nuts,” “peaches and cream.” He quotes Dr. Phil (“how’s that working for you?”). Even when talking about reopening the Indian Act, the contentious legislation of 1876 that has defined Aboriginal affairs ever since and is once again open for discussion, he pines for reasonableness. “I think that, while there’s a broad consensus that people don’t like it, both within our party and within the Aboriginal community,” he says, “what we’re doing is taking pragmatic steps to address outstanding issues instead of the big, grand reorganization plan.”

He speaks in terms of old and new, of what hasn’t worked up to now and what could work from here on. But much of his answer to the ancient question of how to mend relations between Aboriginals and the rest of the country and improve the lot of all comes back to the fact that he doesn’t have the answer. That where no politician has yet solved all the problems, no politician will. At least on his or her own. “The old conversation was, is there a program in the federal government that will fix this for me?” he says. “The new conversation is, what are the other partners that we can engage on this? And that’s a much better conversation to have than the old one. The old one was, there’s not enough money in the system, nor enough wisdom in the system, at the federal level, to make enough good decisions to help you out. But there is if we engage enough partners.”




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Fixing the native economy

  1. we must first recognize the truth..reservations and the inhabitants did not ask to be put aside and away on reservations!
    the government of the day probably did this to prevent backlash mixed with paranoia for taking the land without full acknowledgement from all parties… was in effect not good for the future…now the future is here! what now! first fix the problem of legislated regime of second rate citizenship by way of the archaic indian act…or is there another legislation that segregates an already marginalized group of patient talented wonderful people and stop beating on them instead….. raise the esteem by way of acceptance not tolerance acceptance not walking behind each other but walking forward together…words and politics will not hasten goodness but honest recognition of past hurts may alleviate the guilt and hurt expressed by all parties…now we go forward

    • The so called hurt is an unending supernovae ploy of exploitation, from both sides.

      Everyone working on this issue needs to do one simple thing before going on; getting over themselves.

      This nation is not so important that it can't spare land and resources, and the natives are not so important that we should bend backward, forward, backwards, then sideways whenever they say, then give up an arm so they can use it as toilet paper.

      You heard me right, anyone who say natives live in horrible conditions haven't seen a real reserve.

    • Getting rid of a few thousand bureaucrats in Indian Affairs who have a vested interest in the status quo would be a good start. Then get rid of the lands claim lawyers who also have a vested interest in not settling and come up with a deal that all parties can live with. Then on day two……….

  2. I hope Wherry realizes that Strahl was ripping off Reagan with the whole "I'm from teh govmint" line.

  3. I'm sure Aaron Wherry knows who Reagan is and what he said, given he isn't ignorant.

    I'm unsure about how this will work to encourage entrepreneurship when individual natives on many reserves don't have the opportunity to amass private property through homes and businesses given that reserve resources are held in common. You might be able to work out deals with the chiefs of these socialist republics with corporations, but how do you promote grassroots investment among individual natives which is what you really need to lift people out of poverty?

    I certainly agree with the sentiment that the best cure for native problems will be a way to cultivate future prosperity and cultivate ambition for it through the free market rather than government handouts, but first individual natives need private property rights and private capital on reserves. I don't think the ruling families on many reserves is willing to give up their absolute power, or that the left is willing to give up their captive population for social experiments.

    • Name one single Canadian that has property rights .

      • Yeah, I know on paper, we hold all of our land "in fee simple" for the Queen.

        In practice, you are allowed to exploit property you buy (except for mineral rights which you need to negotiate with the government) and you can do stuff like gain equity in your home and develop a private business on your land, using the surface resources of that land.

        Guess what you can't do on most native reserves?

    • i agree…there has to be communication with people not chiefs and councils who have dollars signs in their eyes (can tell you horror stories and some of these involve oil rich reserves who made a fiasco of suing in a shady shoddy manner! and millions of dollars are gone that was intended for the membership and this is truly a sad sad state of affairs and no one will do anything which is sadder!) am also not about the shelved royal commission….what has to occur is to fire up the inherent natural instinct of survival (a little struggle never killed anyone)…to allow this to happen but to maintain transparency and depart from this present communist form of government and relay it to a contemporary form with an elected chairman and board to work on reform and such (already been done in the usa). basically there is just over politicization on most or all reserves!

  4. We already know how to create wealth – rule of law and property rights – so why are pols and native leaders always seemingly trying to re-create the wheel instead of using what we already know works.

    It is no coincidence that the only ethnic group with it's own government ministry is also the most troubled within Canada.

    • "so why are pols and native leaders always seemingly trying to re-create the wheel instead of using what we already know works."

      Because there's a few hundred years of very complicated history, agreements, broken agreements, unresolved treaties, racism, abuse, dependency, bureacratic bungling, cultural devistation, and that sort of thing.

      There's a grain of truth in the idea that Ministry has ultimately done precious little good, and often outright harm, to First Nations peoples. There's also no doubt that at some point, the cycle of dependency and paternalism must end.

      But these sorts of Flanaganistic approaches treat the current context as though it appeared out of thin air, and tend to be morally and legally tenable only if one ignores the history that got us to this point.

      • I you mean to imply that the state of Native community is mostly the government's fault I'm going to go over to your house and set your computer on fire.

        • You are an idiot. Come on over and we'll "chat".

          • I guess I am. I'm asking because I don't understand your comment. What does flanaganistic mean? Which context? How much history, and when?

            I don't know what you've told, so your comment is just really vague to me. But if you do mean to say the government is mostly responsible the Native's woes then I'll just have to do something really cruel to your personal property.

            I live in a part of Canada where no matter where you are a native reserve is no further than 100kms away. I've been on a few of them. Most of my familly worked on building them, then rebuilding it, again and again. The conditions they live in is their own fault.

          • You might understand the issues better if you were more educated or well-read (apart from redneck kind of magazines Andre). Sorry Guy, but you seem to be asking good questions, but it would take a LONG time to educate you on the issues.

  5. Thank you for your enlightenment JWL…about as enlightened as Minister Strahl IMO – I too think Aaron read him wholly wrong…
    the man is an ideologue – through and through – and preaches hard right kant like it is going out of style.
    Fortunately for Canada's farmers – Harper moved him on before he could do any more damage of the type he did running a combine through the Wheat Board!
    He's lucky he has hair on his chin as well as the top of his head – by the time he has finished riling up the First Nations communities – he'll be thinking he's lucky he has two scalps to give them…

    • I didn`t know you could still do scalp jokes.

      • while in seemingly in defense of Aboriginal people nonetheless, albeit implicitly…. uhm….what William said.

    • Stop insisting that speak for my father, a farmer, who hates the wheat board. There are farmers who regret that there are socialists who insist that they need to intrude on their business for no practical reason or benefit.

      Also, fun fact. My Dad remembers that when he was a younger man the Wheat Board refused to grant permit books to natives to sell wheat and other cereal crops, thus cutting off at the knees the agricultural industry on reserves, Yay centralized economic planning!

  6. Because there's a few hundred years of very complicated history, agreements, broken agreements, unresolved treaties, racism, abuse, dependency, bureacratic bungling, cultural devistation, and that sort of thing.

    Which side are you talking about ?

    • Often the government, sometimes particular native populations, sometimes broader Canadian society. Some of the complexity comes from sheerly unforseen and unintended consequences. It's too complex a situation to point to one side or factor as culpable, or one approach as the obvious solution.

      I think many Canadians need to look at the history and current circumstances through a new lens. One that avoids paternalism, and abandons the tacit hope for assimilation of any meaningful sort (assimilation in particular is not a particularly moral or pragmatic outcome). I also think many native populations need to heal themselves, and strive for a self-sustaining future. But they can't just snap their fingers and make that happen: generations of destructive forces (cultural, disease, economic, emotional, etc..) have made a mess of things in many instances. Healing and autonomy (by whatever balance we can fairly strike) will take a lot of time and a lot of patience from all concerned.

      • I am impressed SeanStok at your thoughtful analysis! Yes, it is very complex. So many progressive Native leaders of today are frustrated by the dependency of the system initiated by the Royal Proclamation and the Indian Act and perpetuated by the same and the department of Indian Affairs and other government – federal, provincial, municipal and FIrst Nations.

        Try to address this with the complete disconnect of Harper's advisors (or previous advisors, since Harper is trying to appeal to Aboriginal people in his very limited manner) like Tom Flanagan who thinks Aboriginal people were immigrants like everyone else to this country, albeit the first ones, and should not be treated any differently.

  7. i know this is not a popular answer but the first part to making things better is the spiritual aspect. Helping people who are hurting from the wounds of abuse and drug addiction. However some new policies and getting rid of some of the red tape would be huge also. I think we all agree that we should hope,wish, and pray for the native people.

    • do not give me that condescending bs….spirituality is simple, the highest ideals of human nature which are….kindness, respect, compassion, not to mention love for yourself and everyone else unequivocally, without bias or prejudgment…tall order? you betcha, try it sometime! all other is dogma, hokus pokus and meant to frighten people and i do not do fear based thinking, talking or doing…there is enough of it in this crazy world…it thrives on it

  8. The fundamental problem on reserves is not lack of money it is lack of power. People feel powerless to change their situation and the government (local and federal) has always capitalized on this insecurity. There are also unscrupulous warlords (i.e chiefs) who are allowed to run reserves like African dictators. Women are treated as chattel and have had to fight tooth and nail for every inch of autonomy. Rape and incest are ignored and girls are blamed if they report to the police. I, unlike most of u, lived for 5 years on some of the poorest reserves and returned about seven years ago to visit and found nothing had changed and in some cases things had gotten worse. I have always felt that the patronizing attitudes of mainstream Canadians and the governments they elect contribute to the malaise on reserves but that does not excuse corrupt local governments. There needs to be truth and reconciliation before healing can begin and that has to start right on the reserve with people owning up to the injustice and hurt they have caused their own people to suffer and stop blaming outside forces. Residential schools have been closed for forty years so there is no reason why young girls should be getting raped and people excusing this behavior on the effects of residential schools. Elders who encourage their grandchildren to drop out of school because they know that if they get an education they may leave the reserve are selfish and near-sighted and given way too much say in the running of reserves. Change needs to happen and it needs to start right in the homes.

    • That is the fairest evaluation I've ever read.

    • Gary, you are right that Aboriginal people are perpetuating much of their own malaise because of the apathy that has developed over generations. The disempowerment experienced by not being able to make their own decisions, the banning of Native political, spiritual and wealth distribution institutions and the ongoing indoctrination that they were inferior continues with repercussions today. Native people were also not able to vote until 1960.____All of this has led to or is exacerbated by some awful abuses in some, NOT all communities.

  9. The current system has several problems and no clear solutions, making it difficult to solve. But blunt application of right wing ideology would turn things from bad to utterly catastrophic.

    • Yep, if we just keep trying we will have our ideal society of socialists with the ideals of back to the earth noble savages. Luckily they don't have the economic or political power to stop us in our quest to perfect social planning.

    • Right-wing solutions = catastrophe. Brilliant. Shutting down debate with empty rhetoric is very constructive.

      If the government wants to take indian affairs in a new direction, I'm all for it. Judging by the comments here, it seems all reserves are horrible places full of corruption and despair. Things probably can't get any worse, and any solution (even from right-wing ideologues! Eeeek!) is probably worth a shot.

  10. anyone can point out problems, its not rocket science…so what's the solution? Abolish the Indian Act and with it the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Of the 10.2 billion allocated to First Nations, 6.9 billion is eaten up by INAC to administer on behalf of the Federal Government. 6.9 billion to administer 3.3 billion…brilliant work Canada.

    • I whole heartedly agree. It would be cheaper to give e very status indian a one time cheque for one million dollars than to continue the expensive welfare for useless bureaucrats in Ottawa.

  11. Abolish the Indian Act and with it "Indians" (good thing Columbus wasn't looking for the Orient or we'd be called Orientals living under the Oriental Act) . At the same time, we would be able to get rid of the "reserve" status crippling our communiies of any economic development opportunities.

    Canada recieves in excess of 24 billion dollars in royalties from our natural resources.

    Royalties are paid by the end user, which in the case of oil is our good firend the United States of America, not the taxpayer, the municipalities, the Provinces or Canada. Get rid of the Indian Act and introduce revenue sharing and we will have vibrant healthy communities.

    The Dakota (sioux) are in the
    process of doing this with our comprehensive claim filed July 24 against Canada….stay tuned for more updates

  12. Why abolish the Indian Act u ask? Under the Indian Act, First Nations, Natives, aboriginals, etc etc become wards of the Federal Government to be treated like children. Go to the INAC website and download the Indian Act and read it for yourself. We are not people with the same rights and freedoms that the citizens of Canada have, instead we are designated as "Indians".

  13. "reserves" are "land designated for use by Indians"…it doesnt belong to us, it has no value and anything on the "reserve" has no value, meaning millions of dollars of assets cannot be used for economic development.

    The Dakota have a treaty with British dating back to 1763. This treaty created an economic, trade and military alliance. During the Revolutionary War of 1783 and the War of 1812, Great Britian called on the Dakota to go to war with the United States. Without the Dakota, Canada may not exist. Certainly not west of the Great Lakes.

  14. In 1876 at the Battle of the LIttle Bighorn, where the Dakota demolished the 7th Cavalry, forensic evidence indicated that the Dakota were better equipped than the U.S Army. The weapons used by the Dakota were British Military Issue rifles and ammunition. Considering that when the Dakotas left the reservations in South Dakota in the summer of 1875, they had no rifles to speak of. The weaponry came from the Dakota north of the 49th parallel and for Canada to call us refugees is ridiculous. We went, fought and came back. Just as our elders have said we did.

  15. i love it, love it ,absolutely fantastic the Dakota Sioux all of you have my highest respect for the benefits of democracy and collective freedom something that is close to my own heart…. which is what our people have to contend with and live by for the next generation and beyond again i must comment… you have my highest respect…this is a turning point and you have set the bar for others….all the best in your endeavors and you are going in the right direction…one word of caution….. with all respect to the profession, be careful how you spend the money for litigation.. do as much groundwork by yourselves to conserve the finances…lawyers fees can add up quickly! again i wish you the best!

  16. Aaron, I thank you for your interest in this issue and for reporting on developments. How I wish so many of our fellow Canadians could be freed from this trap of dependence. However well-intentioned (and I have my doubts) its creation, the maintenance of this system is evil.

  17. SeanStok, I like your reference to Tom Flanagan. The guy actually thinks Aboriginal people were amongst the many immigrants to this country, albeit the first ones. That means the Indigenous peoples have no more rights than any other immigrant peoples. Goes to show ya what Harper's advisors think, although both are keeping a low profile on their relationship since Harper is trying so hard to appeal to anyone who will keep him with at least a minority gov't – forget principles! (idealogy or party platforms; what are those?).

  18. How much support among the Native community is there for an abolishment of the Indian Act? I am having trouble with the concept that a certain "race" needs to be treated differently under a supposedly open, multicultural society.

    • Joel, its all about legalities. Land was stolen and treaties were breached. In a "civilized world", the rule of law means that these outstanding court/claims/grievances should be dealt with. Since these issues relate to the indigenous people of Canada, yeah, it is a specific issue with a specific race. Sorry, but Eurpeans, Asian, Middle-Easternerners, etc, and any other "race" do not have the same bone to contend with.

      • Right, but why do they need to live on places called "Indian Reserves" where they are bound by all these "legalities" different from ours? How many Natives want to be Natives within a Canadian society rather than living in their own, closed, pur laine band? I guess those are the ones who surrender their "status" and move off the reserve.

        It just seems like we're making exceptionally difficult for both sides to come to a resolution. I mean, come on. 6 km on both sides of the Grand River in Ontario?

        • Lets not forget that they never asked to be put on reserves or for special status. These measures.were part of the gradual assimilation strategy to isolate them in order to civilize through enfrancisement. it was their 'development logic' that was wrongly premised on the idea they they were different, inferior and needed improving. There was to be no middle ground in post confederation canada. Read Ralston Sauls book and he lays it all out about the weak minded politician s who lack the vision to see canada the way it really is, an aboriginal inspired country. aboriginal people could have had an entirely different path, but society was incapable to put a higher vision out there. it came down to control and hegemony.

          • This just takes me back to my original question… how much support is there among Natives to abolish the Indian Act and do away with things such as reserves?

          • harold cardinal wrote a book in the 70s called an unjust society and talked about "tomahawk indians" who were coopted by Indian affairs. i think the issue of being "coopted" by the state and other hegemonic institutions and power relationships is something that needs to be articulated. how will indians ever begin to regard their' nationhood' outside of the overwhelming influence of the European modern? more deconstruction is needed in our society to begin to find a middle ground that works. look carefully at the "middle ground' discussed by john borrow, Ralston saul and other scholars and interdisciplinary thinkers. Weve had enough bean counters and bureaucrats leading the discourse

  19. Its amazing that we praise the next and latest politician to fix the indian problem in Canadas but the root of the problem is that we took their land away from the indian and imposed westerm traditions and systems on the indian without their consent. Thedoctrine of discovery still enlightens the likes of our politicians. It assumes that aboriginal title flows from the crown. In The government used the Louis Riel and St catherine Milling court cases to reduce aboriginal sovereignty to a separation between rights and title. Consent was a principle embedded in the RPA Act and the Treaty of Niagara. You wont find this information in any government speech.

  20. It really doesn't matter who PM Harper gives this portfolio to, at the end of the day he will still ask if everything was kept on an even keel. Sure the PM brought forward an apology to those that survived the residential system. It was a great empty gesture. Truth be told, PM Harper and the conservative party are under the indoctrination of Tom Flanagan, assimilation into the Canadian society. The remnants of our culture be added to the great melting pot or forgotten. The "Indian problem" is one that will never disappear or be resolved. Leave us to our own affairs. Leave us to our own nations. Leave us to our own democracies.

  21. Economic integration sounds like the new magic wand, but the government is still unprepared to begin to allow themselves to envision Canada as being true to its aboriginal nature. Thats the fundamendal problem with the likes of American/European inspired authors like Flanagan and those he convinces. But the proof is in the pudding,in the words of philosopher Ralston Saul, people just deny the reality in canada, that Canada is inspired by its aboriginal people- they always have been.! More so than by our dominant Americans next door or even our European heritage. I Our public history is only just beginning to express this histoci reality in canada. We are slowly reverting back to the "mean" a reciprocity with our indigenous nature.The most politicians can do is to inspire us to pragmatically integrate the indian economiically,They are not being true to Canadas true genius, its own unique history and culture, formed on true reciprocity, balancing individual with collective rights. We can do it! Co'mon guys!

  22. The solution is almost there. They just need to look for it.

  23. Get rid of reservations, join the rest of the country in working full time jobs, integrate into society . You can still have your POW wows, and chiefs and partys, but for the love of god Quit wineing about what happened in the past. It’s over!!!!!

    • Recompence, I want Recompence!

    • white person who doesn’t know shit ^^^^

  24. Gizmo has an extreeme vision on this, but here is what I think should happen.
    Over a period of 10-15 years all native reservations should be slowly phased out. Everything that is supplied in ways of money and allocations should be phased out. Natives are HUMAN just as anyone else in this country.
    Regardless of Race, Ethnicity, Cultural Background, no one should be getting preferential treatment. A white person, or black man, or Native should not be getting anything extra over anyone else. We are all CANADIAN and in Canada we believe in EQUAL rights – not preferential treatment.
    By integrating the Native reserves into the rest of Canada I believe the Native population will feel more part of Canada, rather than tucked away in tiny little reserves away from the rest of the population. Its time to get these people into society and have them become contributing members of the ENTIRE canadian society. The natives in Canada that are living on reserves deserve to have a good paying job in a city or town. They shouldn’t aspire to live off handouts as they have come to expect and RELY upon for life. They are good people and should not be treated as lower class citizens and tucked away where no one can see them on tiny reserves.
    So, lets get ALL canadians together and END the extreeme poverty by disbanding reserves and getting these people into good working jobs and have them become members of the great nation we call canada!

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