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Boutilier: I would say “Happy National Indigenous Persons Day” but we know Canada has to do more

Painted by Kent Monkman

Today is National Indigenous Persons Day. Be mindful.

The bodies of 215 indigenous babies found at a residential school, while everyone holds their breath waiting to see how many more are discovered at residential schools elsewhere in Canada. Residential schools that were active up until the late 90’s.

Under the Truth and Reconciliation commission, a measly 1.5 million dollars were requested to search for the bodies of missing indigenous children and it was denied by the Canadian government.

There are many people alive today who experienced the horrors of residential schools first hand. The generational trauma it has caused will take many more generations to heal from it. More than 100 years of indigenous families being torn apart in an effort to crush their culture.

For decades indigenous communities have gone without clean water, and have only had access to filthy parasitic water that is dangerous to consume. This is despite Canada having endless amounts of clean drinking water. Sure, this is in the process of being addressed, but there is no excuse for this problem to even have existed in the first place let alone for decades.

The federal government is actively fighting a human rights ruling in favour of indigenous children who were unjustifiably removed from their families after 2006.

That doesn't even mention murdered and missing Indigenous women. The rate of murdered Indigenous women in Canada was 4.82 per 100,000. That is almost 3 times the national average.

Hell, recently the government spent more than $110,000 fighting a First Nations girl in court to block payment for orthodontic treatment that cost just $6,000. How might you feel if this type of treatment was aimed solely at you and your community?

Now to put this in perspective: government offices have reported spending more on individual office renovations than the total amount requested to find bodies of missing indigenous children through the truth and reconciliation work.

Since 2015 to the end of 2021, the Canadian government will have doubled its debt from ~600bn to ~1.2 trillion. Very little of this benefitted Canadians in any way, especially indigenous communities.

Billions of dollars leave Canada yearly to support nations that are torn apart from their own internal forces and leaders, some of it even ending up in the hands of terrorist organizations while the government continues to underfund and turn a blind eye to the travesty of indigenous people in Canada.

The government just announced a 5 billion dollar spend for restoration of Parliament’s Center Block. Priorities though, right?

I would say “Happy National Indigenous Persons Day” but I don’t think that’s appropriate. I would suggest today is best spent looking past the politics and the frictions between various communities in Canada and coming to terms with the reality of the plight of indigenous people in our country.

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