Palmater on Canada’s First Nations and the environment

First Nations, with our constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights, are Canadians’ last best hope to protect the lands, waters, plants, and animals from complete destruction – which doesn’t just benefit our children, but the children of all Canadians.

Palmater, Pamela. “Why are we Idle No More?” in The Kino-nda-niimi Collective. The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement. Arbeiter Ring Publishing; Winnipeg. 2014. p. 40 (paperback)

Palmater on a basic Canadian injustice

The creation of Canada was only possible through the negotiation of treaties between the Crown and indigenous nations. While the wording of the treaties varies from the peace and friendship treaties in the east to the numbered treaties in the west, most are based on the core treaty promise that we would all live together peacefully and share the wealth of the land. The problem is that only one treaty partner has seen any prosperity.

The failure of Canada to share the lands and resources as promised in the treaties has placed First Nations at the bottom of all socio-economic indicators – health, lifespan, education levels and employment opportunities. While indigenous lands and resources are used to subsidize the wealth and prosperity of Canada as a state and the high-quality programs and services enjoyed by Canadians, First Nations have been subjected to purposeful, chronic underfunding of all their basic human services like water, sanitation, housing, and education. This has led to the many First Nations being subjected to multiple, overlapping crises like the housing crisis in Attawapiskat, the water crisis in Kashechewan, and the suicide crisis in Pikangikum.

Palmater, Pamela. “Why are we Idle No More?” in The Kino-nda-niimi Collective. The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement. Arbeiter Ring Publishing; Winnipeg. 2014. p. 37-8 (paperback)