EDITORIAL: First Nations claims unfortunate
There’s no question that some First Nations band councils in Canada are not living up to their financial responsibilities and necessary resources aren’t getting to rank-and-file members.
But what’s been unfortunate over the last few days is how some federal politicians and media suggest these situations are the norm and all First Nations bands are either in financial difficulty or using money inappropriately.
Those claims are particularly troubling as the Department of Indian Affairs’ website states there are 614 First Nations bands in the country and 157 are under default management because of financial matters.
Ineptness and inappropriateness aren’t limited to just one race and they can be found at all levels of government, as demonstrated by the recent allegations of corruption in some Quebec cities. Here in Vernon, a mayor resigned and was sentenced for breach of trust because of false expense claims.
And yet, there weren’t broad accusations that all mayors in B.C. were involved in similar activities because of what happened in Vernon.
While we should all expect transparency and prudence from bands, the current situation is a blatant attempt to divert attention away from the federal government’s handling of First Nations matters.
And these political games are unfortunate because they may leave Canadians believing that all First Nations are using tax dollars inappropriately. The reality, according to Ottawa’s own figures, is a vast majority of bands are operating responsibly and meeting financial requirements.
Ultimately, some in government and the media may want to cling to tired paternal attitudes, but that unfairly reflects the country we live in and the ability of most First Nations to govern.