Thursday, March 10, 2016

Homelessness in Canada

Image result for after the last river images

We watched several films at last weekend's Docfest in Belleville including After the Last River, about the remote Northern Ontario First Nations community of Attawapiskat. The De Beers diamond mine opened relatively close to the community, which brought hopes of well-paid jobs and increased prosperity. This hasn't been the case, with most of the money from the mine benefitting the company and the province.

Meanwhile, the school had to be closed and eventually torn down because it was on toxic soil, and scores of people have been housed in what are really construction trailers because their homes were condemned. Others, including families with young children had taken up residence in tents, living in these flimsy structures through winter temperatures plummeting to -40 degrees. We talked afterward about the sick feeling each of us felt in the pit of our stomachs knowing that this could actually be happening in Canada. The squalor is a national shame. Thank God for MP's such as Charlie Angus who have attempted to shine a light on the dire circumstances.

On Monday a United Nations report called out Canada for the persistent housing crisis across the country with a focus was on homelessness. I immediately thought of the people of Attawapiskat even though homelessness is an issue in many communities. I'm never quite sure how I as a Christian should be addressing this reality, but my gut tells me I should care and become involved.



roger said...

The helplessness and hopelessness of thousands of people living in our First Nations - especially the remote ones - continues. Promises of "sharing the wealth" get thrown around by corporations that are exploiting their lands, but do they follow through?

I have been to Kashechewan FN a couple of times - it's literally a 5 or 10 minute flight from Attawapiskat - and it is a real eye opener to see the conditions in which they live. Sadly, those are just two of hundreds of northern communities where the hopelessness is palpable.

I worked and lived in a northern First Nation community in Saskatchewan for two years, and rather than leaving me bitter and frustrated, it left me with a real appreciation for the many wonderful people who struggled daily with the surrounding violence, abuse and substance abuse.

The government can't suck and blow at the same time - it's time to follow through with promises. I feel there is hope with the new government.

David Mundy said...

I knew that you might be the only reader who has seen the misery of northern First Nations communities first hand Roger. I appreciate your thoughts>

Frank said...

I think most folks tend to drive straight through (or by) other first nations communities (eg. along hwy 17 between Sudbury and the Soo). What I think is worse is that we seldom pay any attention to their appearance. It just seems that these places are virtually invisible, like we shut them out of our minds as we speed on by.