Report says natives do better off reserve

Letter - The Regional

March 25, 2009

The March 18 "Turtle Island News" ran an article that was interesting: "First Nations in Canada Seeing Significant Increase in Jobs, Education: Report."

The report from the Canadian Press claims that registered Indians living in cities are doing much better in education and employment than reserve residents. Since conservatives push concepts like reducing government spending, while liberals adore concepts like helping minority groups, I think we can kill two birds with one stone.

Make Six Nations/New Credit a pilot project. Since people that leave the reserve tend to improve their lot, perhaps the reserve is the problem, not the people who live there. Rather than subject them to the stress of relocating, survey the area and rezone it. Make it deeded land. Give the individuals their piece of land along with a deed of ownership. Because they now own the land they'll start paying property tax.

(Note: The early Indians didn't own the land; they merely occupied it. The food on the land was what mattered. They may have liked the neighbourhood but if the food got scarce they hit the road. The aboriginal inhabitants (The Attiwandarons) went as far north as Oakville and as far east as St. Catharines. They travelled in a circuit, hunting an area out then moving on. By the time they got back around the food supply was replenished. It was sustainable only because there were so few of them.) It wouldn't work today. On Six Nations there'd be famine within a year.

Things improve for Indians once you get them off the reserve, but statistically they still have more problems than the rest of us. What to do? I have an idea that should please everyone but won't. Throw the status cards in the garbage. Conservatives will like the billions in tax savings. Even though things will improve for the (formerly) registered Indians, liberals will still be cross because government isn't doing it for them.

Doug Fleming

Caledonia