Tag Archives: funding

The Remnants of Colonization in La Loche: What Factors Lead to Tragedy?

On January 22nd, a 17-year-old student killed four individuals in La Loche, Saskatchewan.

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The four victims of the La Loche shooting, Adam Wood, Marie Janvier, and Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.

When I first heard about this heartbreaking tragedy I was shocked. Since then, I’ve been reading more and more about the town of La Loche in order to better understand the context of what happened. Below I’ve shared some of what I’ve learned about the situation this small Northern town has faced.

1. Rural isolation

Canada has become an urban nation, so the city is where most of our jobs and resources are.

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In some ways the popular Canadian cliche of a “vast, empty wilderness” is still true today. Just like the “discovery” of Canada – when a country filled with many different nations was considered “empty” by explorers – today Canadians still consider the jobless pockets of Northern Canada “empty”.

While settler-Canadians have congregated primarily in the region of Canada closest to the American border, First Nations peoples still tend to be the majority in Northern rural areas. In La Loche, for example, more than 2,400 of the 2,600 community members identify as First Nations or Metis.

However, these communities have changed considerably since “the discovery” of Canada. Generations of First Nations peoples were forced to give up their cultural practices during their time in the Residential school system, which lasted from the 1870s all the way into the 1990s. They also gave up huge portions of land to white settlers. Not as a gift, but in an exchange drafted out in treaties that the Canadian government has yet to honour.

First Nations communities continue to survive, despite the loss of many traditional practices and lands. While these communities struggle to overcome their isolation, many settler-Canadians continue to ask why they don’t move south to find more jobs and a “better lifestyle”. In her article responding to this question, Susanna Kelley argues that many rural reserve members are forced to give up their land and community support if they want to find employment and education.

“First of all, the overwhelming majority of [rural] reserve residents have not completed high school and have no place to work once they hit the urban south. And many fly in reserves don’t have high schools.  Would you like to send your 13-year-old to live 70 km. away for months at a time?

Many who do come to the cities end up in the sex and drug trade.  They simply are unqualified to make a living other ways…

Which is why many [First Nations] people stay where they are, close to family and their community.

But what most Canadians don’t know is that our nation is legally bound to provide housing, health care and education to [First Nations people] who live on reserves.

The federal government isn’t just doing it out of the goodness of its heart.

The obligation comes from legally binding agreements made by treaty many years ago.”

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Shame Day: The British Monarchy

That’s right: the British Monarchy. I’m taking them down.

Again.

Being a radical lefty, there’s no one easier out there for me to bash than a woman making a speech about austerity measures while wearing a golden crown encrusted with diamonds pillaged from war-torn Africa and impoverished India.I have, in fact, done so before on another blog, and got chewed out by a Brit for daring to disrespect “my queen.” I responded to the (presumably) pasty twit that I’m not actually British and therefore am not a subject of an inbred German family.

I have never felt more American

So if I’ve touched on the subject before, why do it again?

Because this is something that really is a shame.

Let’s talk about money.

You can’t really argue with the fact that the money- tax money- used to prop up this family could be put to better use, “better use” being pretty much anything else- from reducing education costs to building new roads. Heck, even studying the mating habits of the sea otter would have more pay-off.

Because they are freaking adorable…

Now I can hear all you romantics and loyalists shriek out:

“BUT GORDON! IT’S NOT THAT MUCH! VERY LITTLE CASH ACTUALLY GOES INTO SUPPORTING THE MONARCHY!”

“Very little cash”? The queen- the queen alone- gets an allowance of a little more than a million dollars a year. Is that a lot of money?

Yeah, it is.

It’s a million dollars per year for having been born into one family and not another. It’s a million dollars that could be spent relieving poverty. And of course, it’s not just a million dollars. Not when you take into account everything else done for her. The security, the transportation, the servants- heck, the freaking A/C for any one of her royal residences probably costs more than I’d make in three years.

“BUT GORDON! WHAT OF THE TOURISM?”

Ah yes, the tourism.

Who could live without this stuff?

Because if the queen went away, the castles, the diamonds, the viking graves, the monuments- those would all just vanish as well. Tourists do not go to Britain expecting to have a face-to-face conversation with the queen. Tourism is not going to die with the Mountbatten-Windsors. Besides, if your entire economy is built on the frail shoulders of an octogenarian, you really don’t deserve to have a civilization to start with.

“IT’S DIFFERENT! THEY’VE GOT A CELEBRITY FOLLOWING!”

So does Honey Boo Boo. So does Justin Bieber.

“THIS OBSESSION CREATES JOBS!”

You think these people’s undeserved fame and fortune winds up creating jobs? Heck, war creates jobs, that doesn’t make it something worth pursuing. Greed, gluttony, envy and cowardice have given us thousands of jobs- some causes aren’t worth the effects.

“DIPLO-“

Don’t you dare say diplomacy. Don’t you dare.

An elderly woman with a funny hat isn’t going to do anything a bunch of children holding hands can’t- heck, Severn Suzuki did more in her five minute speech at the UN at the age of 13 than the Queen has done in her entire reign.

Let’s grow up, people.

Princesses are not from Disney. Princes do not sprout from frogs [I don’t think Gordon understands how fairy tales work. -Evan]. Royalty are inbred leeches draining funds from society that could be used help people who are actually productive. 1 million dollars isn’t much? Tell that to a bum begging for change. Tell that to a ghetto kid trying to get into college. Tell that to a war widow. This drooling over the royal family isn’t simply childish, it’s barbaric. There’s nothing quaint and charming about a handful of human beings enjoying fame and fortune simply for having been born.

No, that’s just a shame.