Financial problems on the Attawapiskat First Nation community in northern Ontario could be typical in more than one First Nation community in Canada.
I recall working in First Nations communities and observing that the elected hierarchy took care of their own first. Like tossing a pebble in a pond the strongest ripples were closer to the elected chief.
The further your relationship was away from the chief and band council, the longer it took to get needed help. Other inequalities that I observed were that employment opportunities within the band often were handed to family members on first basis rather than on a skill-level requirement.
All forms of government seem to operate on some form of priority basis. Election campaigns seem to always start with, if elected, I will push for building some edifice in the community. Not said is that the communities, then forever beholden, will always recognize the great contribution that such a politician has made to the community. The U.S. political system uses words like Pork Barrel Politics to describe this. The proposed $398 million bridge to Gravina Island in Alaska, dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere,” is one example of such Pork Barrel Politics.
So in Attawapiskat, the possibility exists that elected members may have diverted a portion of the available federal funding to purchase a Zamboni for the new ice arena.
Most of the First Nations populations I worked with don’t want the federal government interfering in band management, at the same time forgetting the source of such funding; somebody has to be responsible for taxpayers’ dollars.
The problem that I see is that somehow, if better housing and other needs are to be eventually met in First Nations communities, bands need to increase their self sufficiency, even if this means approving some things that seem so disagreeable to their former way of life.
In non-native communities, children are not that much interested in any former way of life.
They want the latest technology. Simply stated, critical to keeping children in their own communities is to have stay-in-the-home-community employment opportunities.