‘Attawapiskat Again’

The ongoing dysfunction of the Attawapiskat reserve has it back in the news again:

“The Attawapiskat Band council in northern Ontario has declared a state of emergency after tests showed tap water had potentially harmful levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs)…

“Attawapiskat Chief Ignace Gull said he asked officials with ‘Indigenous’ {‘Aboriginal’} Services Canada during a teleconference call on Monday to provide free bottled water to the community of 2,000, because many can’t afford to purchase supplies from the local ‘Northern Store’…
{If tribal leadership hadn’t embezzled so much, they could afford to do that themselves! See below…}

“A spokesperson for ‘Indigenous’ {‘Aboriginal’} Services Minister Seamus O’Regan, Kevin Deagle…said the department has spent about $1.4 million on the community’s water system since 2018 {!?!}

“Attawapiskat resident Adrian Sutherland said he was irked Sunday after seeing a tweet from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna praising the purity of Ottawa’s city water while his community faced an advisory warning that their own water could be harmful… Sutherland tweeted a photo of himself wearing a respirator mask to make his point…

“The only lasting solution to the nagging water woes would be to change the community’s water source to the Attawapiskat River — a conclusion reached by studies in 2008 and 2011.

“A new water source is also part of a broader plan for a desperately needed expansion of the community, which is bursting at the seams and pushing its existing water and wastewater systems to a near breaking point…

“The cost of the expansion is estimated at about $300 million to $400 million over 20 years {!}.”

–‘Attawapiskat declares state of emergency over water quality’,
Jorge Barrera, CBC News, July 09, 2019
From 2013:
‘Attawapiskat’s financial mismanagement is staggering’

“Back in late 2011, when Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence first confronted Ottawa over the state of housing on her northern Ontario reserve, it was revealed her Band government had not built the dozens of housing units the feds had paid for over the previous five years. Indeed, her band was nearly $12 million in debt despite having been given over $90 million for operations and new houses.

“Ottawa threated to appoint an outside administrator to handle Attawapiskat’s finances, a move Spence angrily denounced. (At any one time, one-quarter of Canada’s more than 630 reserves are under federal or third-party administration.)

“Instead, Ottawa appointed the international accounting firm of ‘Deloitte’ to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Band’s books.

“The results of that audit were leaked Monday and they are devastating. They identify a staggering level of incompetence.

As part of our audit”, 
Deloitte wrote in a letter to Spence last August,
we tested a total of 505 transactions to assess whether expenditures … were incurred in accordance with the terms and conditions of the funding agreements between Attawapiskat First Nation and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and Health Canada. We were unable to conclude on a total of 409 transactions … due to a lack of documentation. An average of 81% of files did not have adequate supporting documents and over 60% had no documentation of the reason for payment.”

“Deloitte looked at 505 transactions in which Spence, her council and Band employees paid out money given to them by Ottawa for health care, day care, welfare, housing, employment or local services. In 409 of those cases there were too few receipts, cancelled cheques, invoices, ledger entries or computer files to determine whether the money had been spent properly.

“In fewer than 100 cases could Deloitte follow where federal taxpayer dollars had gone. In a staggering 81%, there were “inadequate” documents. In nearly two-thirds of transactions (60%), there was no documentation at all.

“Deloitte also added,

There is no evidence of due diligence in the use of public funding, including the use of funds for housing.”

“In other words, in the chief’s initial dispute with Ottawa about 14 months ago, the feds hadn’t shortchanged her reserve. Plenty of tax dollars had been spent. Rather it was impossible to tell where the money had gone.

“Because Spence knew of this audit’s devastating conclusions back in August, on Monday some commentators suggested she may have begun her “hunger strike” on Dec. 11 merely to divert attention from her own incompetence or perhaps even corruption.

“I’m not that optimistic.

“Rather, the audit results have convinced me more than ever that Spence, like far too many aboriginal activists, is delusional.

“Her current crusade is for a greater share of resource income from a nearby diamond mine. She claims Attawapiskat is being shortchanged even though the mine owners, ‘DeBeers’, have given $325 million in contracts to Attawapiskat businesses in the past five years and 100 of the mine’s 500 employees are from the reserve of under 1,600 people.

“Tens of millions pout into Attawapiskat every year, as they do to reserves across the country. Band councillors are typically paid three to four times what their non-aboriginal counterparts are paid.

“Yet despite all this, there is a delusional belief among many aboriginals that non-aboriginal Canadians have way, way more money than they do. There is also a belief that non-Aboriginal municipal governments are no better run.

“Many aboriginal grievances are based on gross misunderstandings of the nature and source of their own poverty – a misunderstanding reinforced by liberal-left politicians and media who make excuses and blame non-aboriginal culture.

“Those myths have to be overturned if aboriginals issues are ever to be solved.”

–‘Attawapiskat’s financial mismanagement is staggering’,

COMMENT: “Let’s be clear, the federal government offered to send in accountants to manage the band’s funds and teach the Attawapiskat band council methods of proper money management and documentation. Chief Spence nearly lost her mind, she protested so vigorously.

“No, the problem is that the current Indian welfare state has become so ingrained that the Indian population considers it their right. It is time to show some tough love, take control of band management on every reserve that does not meet basic money management skills until the band council can prove that they grasp the process and are prepared to use it.”
“These are some of the reasons why we do not live on our reserves. The education our kids are offered is lacking in many ways, and a lot of times the schools close for community events… why?

“Another good point is, when it comes election time the Chief and Council go around ‘buying votes’ and making outrageous promises to ‘fix’ things if they ‘get in’. Sometimes even throwing big parties and events (with liquor flowing like a fountain) to gain supporters. Some of the band members will even ‘sell’ their vote to the highest bidder.

“These are the people who keep the corruption alive in our band offices, because it is implied that it would ‘be in their best interest’ to follow the herd. All the band workers have money coming out of their asses, but when it comes to actually looking at the finances, there’s not a brain in sight… sickening, really. There needs to be a major overhaul on how our reserves are run and by who. I have always wondered why it is only ‘First Nations’ people who can vote in these band elections, our reserves actually rely on monies from the federal budget. Not taking sides, just living life and knowing that things need to change or people will continue to suffer the consequences of our leader’s actions.”


From 2016:
‘Drugs are fuelling the crisis in Attawapiskat and police can’t do much about it’

“Each winter in northern Ontario, a 300-kilometre ice road that connects Attawapiskat to the rest of the world becomes a pipeline for drug smugglers and bootleggers who conceal contraband in engine compartments, diaper bags, even in children’s ski-doo pants.

“The only other way into the town — in the headlines recently for a massive suicide and overdose crisis — is by plane. Drug couriers have flown in to the local airport with narcotics stuffed in their pockets, shoes and carry-on bags, police say. Pills are also sent into northern communities by mail, sometimes hidden in children’s toys or sewn into the seams of baby blankets.

We’re working hard to try to intercept, but some of it is going to get through; you won’t get it all,”

acknowledges Terry Armstrong, chief of the ‘Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service’, the largest ‘First Nations’ law enforcement agency in Canada with 35 detachments across northern Ontario, including one in Attawapiskat.

“Police know of 12 drug dealers in Attawapiskat, individuals who arrange drug shipments by plane, car or mail, and then distribute them. Payments are typically made through bank transfers, though it is not unheard of for suppliers to travel up north to settle debts.

“But drug dealers are not the only source. It is not uncommon for local residents, in the interest of turning a quick profit, to sell their prescription pills and “live with the pain”, Armstrong says.

“In fact, the most common substances police encounter are pain relievers, such as ‘OxyContin’ and ‘Percocet’, as well as amphetamines and marijuana. Occasionally, police will run into cocaine, and recently, they’ve seen fentanyl creep in.

“Drug prices up north can be as much as five times higher than prices in the south; police declined to say what the going rates are now, but said a single OxyContin pill has fetched $400 in the past. It raises the question of how residents can afford it.


“Nishnawbe-Aski police Insp. Eric Cheechoo says some residents will put some of their government assistance money toward drugs. Others will steal items from homes, re-sell them, and then use the money for drugs.

“Adds Armstrong:

Presumptively, kids (are) going without boots, houses (are) going without a fridge full of food.”

“Police suspect the youth involved in the recent rash of suicide attempts likely did not buy their drugs but simply stole them or found them lying unsecured in the home.

“Cheechoo says the number of attempted suicides — including 11 in a 24-hour time span earlier this month — caught officers off-guard.

We weren’t prepared to have so many attempted suicides, so many youth thinking about suicide all in one weekend,”
he says.
You’ve read about all the different problems, the lack of recreation, lack of something to do. It was sad to see the desperation in the children.”

“The crisis has brought promises from provincial and federal officials of more mental health support. Police say they, too, are desperate for extra support to deal with the illicit drug trade.

“Cheechoo says he lacks the investigative resources to go after the dealers.

We know where they live. But gathering evidence to bang on the door, there are so many roadblocks,”
he says.

“Investigators typically have to apply for a warrant over the phone and send supporting documents to a justice of the peace via fax, which slows things down…

“Conducting covert surveillance on an individual is also fraught with challenges, since everyone knows everyone in the community, Cheechoo says…

“Armstrong says he has 132 officers spread across northern Ontario but could use 52 more to shore up the frontlines and to create specialized investigative units. Currently, he has only one drug sergeant and one drug constable on the entire force…

“In the meantime, the Nishnawbe-Aski police say they’re doing what they can to curb the drug trade. During the winter months, they perform vehicle stops along the ice road, looking for contraband.

“Recently they brought a sniffer dog to a postal outlet in Dryden, Ont., to try to intercept contraband-laden packages destined for northern fly-in communities.

“Among the items officers seized: gabapentin pills used to treat neuropathic pain and seizures; “shatter”, a derivative of marijuana that resembles peanut brittle; marijuana cupcakes and suckers; and alcohol…”

–‘Drugs are fuelling the crisis in Attawapiskat and police can’t do much about it’,
Douglas Quan, National Post, April 22, 2016


Attawapiskat (CBC)

See also:
Money isn’t Attawapiskat’s problem {April 23, 2016}:
“A legion of government social workers flown in from down south, visits by consoling cabinet ministers, emergency Parliamentary debates, and a few barge loads more of taxpayer dollars aren’t going to make an ounce of difference. Because the problem is neither lack of government, nor lack of other people’s money…”

Tale Of Two Reserves’ (Attawapiskat and Osoyoos) {September 11, 2018}:
“A tale of two ‘Nations’ – Attawapiskat and Osoyoos. If you had a choice, where would you go?”

Moving is the only hope’ (Remote Reserves) {June 23, 2016}:
“The Assembly of ‘First Nations’ regional Chief for Ontario blasted former ‘Liberal’ Prime Minister Jean Chretien for suggesting some northern ‘First Nations’ may have no other hope left except to move away.”

Playing Political Games With Children’s Lives {May 6, 2016}:
“Amid political pressure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sent a letter to the chief of Attawapiskat ‘First Nation’ – the ‘beleaguered’ Ontario community that has made headlines around the globe due to its suicide crisis – to offer a meeting in Ottawa…”
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