Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It is shameful 

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

This story made me weep.
Why can't Canada do better than this? No Christmas lights or indoor plumbing make for grim Yule on reserve:
. . . "The conditions in Pikangikum would not be tolerated in our suburbs or rural areas," said Dr. Pete Sarsfield, medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit based in Kenora, Ont. "It simply would not be allowed."
"What are they reviewing, the font?" he asked in an interview Tuesday when told that Indian Affairs is still studying the damning 18-page report dated last September.
The report included photos of a frozen outhouse smeared with overflowing human waste, and the plastic containers many of Pikangikum's 2,200 residents use to store untreated lake water for cooking and bathing. Many people can't get to taps for clean water from the reserve's treatment plant because they live too far away, says the report.
Just 43 of the 431 homes located 250 kilometres north of Kenora have running water or indoor toilets, says Susan Bertrand, a spokeswoman for Indian Affairs.
Work to connect the remaining homes has been stalled since 2001. That's when the former Liberal government took over the band's finances - which were in order - citing its failure to deal with a daunting range of social problems. The Federal Court later ruled in Pikangikum's favour but the matter is still before the courts.
And, of course, God forbid any bureaucrat could ever provide some project funding for septic tanks or portable toilets until every last court case is settled -- why, the Auditor General might complain!
Here are some photos of this reserve and its people -- they're working hard to resolve some awful social problems, like high suicide rates, while also trying to promote economic development.
Wouldn't it be nice if the people of Ontario and of Canada could stop getting in their way and give them a bit of a hand for a change, eh?

Here is the photo credit for the last photo

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