telesur | 02 March, 2017
Instead of spending millions devoted to supporting Indigenous communities, Canada is spending a portion on promoting mining development in their territories, according to an investigation published Thursday.
Canada’s Indigenous and northern affairs minister, Carolyn Bennett, said in an interview in January that almost US$150 million are being spent on Indigenous initiatives, but a closer look at documents by Press Progress showed that the sum is exaggerated and that some is siphoned off into programs meant to win and pressure Indigenous communities into complying with mining projects.
Parliament set aside US$53 million last year to address a ruling that showed that Indigenous children were discriminated against in the budget. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, however, found that that gap was twice as big.
“We’ve got the extra money for Jordan’s Principle (securing healthcare for First Nations children), with that is allowing 1,500 more kids in care,” said Bennett in the CBC interview. “But we’ve also put money out to each of the agencies to develop their needs, develop their cultural programs. We’ve also increased the dollars to the agencies for their maintenance and those kinds of things.”
When Press Progress calculated the programs, though, they found that Bennett likely included programs “that have questionable relevance to Indigenous kids,” like one that works on community decision-making and not on supporting First Nations children.
Another one, the US$16 million Strategic Partnership Initiative, intends to work on “First Nations mining readiness activities” to “help reduce barriers to FNs who want to participate in and benefit from economic opportunities” from mining projects.
Projects devoted to “community well-being” are also often in tangent with mining priorities, reported Press Progress, which found that one of the packages dedicated to the Mattawa First Nations was drafted with a “condition of consent to development” which could help “attract mining investment in the region.”