October 16, 2008
Judith Maxwell (2008-01-28), former head of the Economic Council of Canada and Canadian Policy Research Networks, claimed that the high concentration of at-risk Canadians live in highly disadvantaged neighbourhoods of poverty by postal code. In 2008 the Canadian national poverty rate remained at c. 16% where we’ve been stuck for eight years. Maxwell claims that religions, some social-minded businesses and countless volunteers who constitute civil society are revitalizing desperately poor neighbourhoods, tackling homelessness and letting governments know that the current policies prevent people from escaping poverty.
Maxwell, Judith. 2008-01-28. “Forget policy makers, civic leaders are spearheading the fight to end poverty.” Globe and Mail.
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July 1, 2008
“Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008 ).”
The Conference Board of Canada (2008 ) compared economic, innovation, environment, education, health and society performances of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States which are considered to be Canada’s international peers. Canada’s standard of living ranking dropped from 4th spot in 1990 to 9th in 2008. In terms of Education and Skills, over 40% of adult Canadians lack literacy skills required for everyday life and work in modern society. In terms of innovation Canada scored D since the 1980s and has failed to produce any top global brands.
The full report for 2008 will not be available until September. I am curious to see how data specifically related to Canada’s growing aboriginal community with its unique social histories and current dilemmas will be analysed in this report. When we examine the weakest points in the report, it is obvious that the vulnerabilities faced by Canada’s most at-risk group (aboriginal women and children) affect our international ranking. It is also useful to consider the location of remote aboriginal communities in terms of the most volatile environmental debates in Canada.
Data for this annual report comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (c.80%), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. The report measures quality of life based on this definition:
“The Conference Board defines a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians as being achieved if Canada records high and sustainable performances in six categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health and Society (B 10/17). The word “sustainable”  is a critical qualifier. It is not enough for Canada to boost economic growth if it is done at the expense of the environment or social cohesion. For example, to take advantage of high commodity prices by mining and exporting all our natural resources may make the country rich in the short term, but this wealth will not be sustainable in the long or even medium term. The Conference Board has consistently argued that economic growth and sustainability of the physical environment need to be integrated into a single concept of sustainable national prosperity—what we call here a “high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians.”
“Having a high quality of life means living in communities that are free from fear of social unrest and violence, communities that accept racial and cultural diversity, and those that foster social networks. A country that provides a high quality of life also minimizes the extremes of inequality between its poorest and richest citizens, while reducing the social tensions and conflicts that result from these gaps. Performance in the Society category is assessed using 17 indicators across three dimensions: self-sufficiency, equity, and social cohesion. Self-sufficiency indicators measure the autonomy and active participation of individuals within society, including its most vulnerable citizens, such as persons with disabilities and youth. Equity indicators measure equity of access, opportunities, and outcomes. Social cohesion indicators measure the extent to which citizens participate in societal activities, the level of crime in society, and the acceptance of diversity [. . .] Canada’s social safety net results in lower rates of poverty and income inequality along with higher rates of self-sufficiency of vulnerable populations than in the United States. But many Canadians would be surprised to find out that the U.S. has a lower burglary rate, a lower suicide rate, and greater gender equity than Canada [...] Canada’s relatively poor record on child poverty, income inequality, and assault [remain] shocking [...] Particularly troubling is its ranking on child poverty. In Canada, according to OECD statistics, one child in seven lives in poverty. Canada also still has an unacceptably high rate of poverty among its working-age population. According to statistics published by the OECD, just over 10 per cent of its working-age population is below the poverty line. This is double the rate of Denmark, the best-performing country on this indicator. Canada’s crime record is also disturbing—with 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. Crime takes its toll on trust—both within the community and within public institutions. This picture of crime is not what Canadians think of when they think of their society. [...] Canada ranks high on the indicator measuring acceptance of diversity [...] Canada’s past achievements, such as reducing poverty among its elderly, show that, given the political will, Canada could successfully address other social challenges to sustain future quality of life (Conference Board of Canada Society Overview 2008).”
1. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland 1987:43).”
Webliography and Bibliography
Brundtland, Gro Harlem. 1987. Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Conference Board of Canada. 2008.
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November 27, 2007
A United Way report Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City claims almost 93,000 Toronto, Canada households are raising children in poverty. That’s 30% compared with 16 per cent in 1990.
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Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. Kashechewan, made headline news in 2005 when 100s evacuated because water was contaminated by E. coli. It is still a community-in-crisis.
Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. The suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation is one of many that [. . .] continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain.” (Barrett 2007)
“Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”
Selected Timeline of water quality problems in First Nations and Inuit communities
1970s In the 1970s project managers of the the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada oversaw all aspects of on-reserve capital projects, largely without the involvement of First Nations communities.
1980s As a result of downsizing in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada since the mid-1980s, and in keeping with the devolution policy, there has been an increasing transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects having First Nations including planning and implementation of various program activities on reserves. Consequently, there has been a continual transfer of responsibilities to First Nations and tribal councils for capital and maintenance projects, under funding arrangements with the Department (DINA 1995).
1989-90 Information disclosed in government reports inaccurately portrayed the status of conditions on reserves claiming that 92 percent of houses on reserves received adequate water services in 1993-94 (86 percent in 1989-90). However, a survey report released after our audit showed that only half of the water systems in First Nations communities are not experiencing problems and about one fifth of the systems pose potential health and safety concerns (DINA 1995:2390)
1992 the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada started to develop an Environmental Issues Inventory and Remediation Plan in 1992, Over 1,600 environmental issues including soil contamination, were identified on inhabited reserves, and remediation would involve millions of dollars (DINA 1995).
1995 The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was responsible for providing services to over 800 on-reserve communities, most of which are located in rural and remote areas. Populations were rapidly outgrowing their already inadequate infrastructures.
2000 The contamination of drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario led to widespread illness that resulted in seven deaths and
ongoing illness for hundreds of residents. “A subsequent inquiry by Associate Chief Justice Dennis O’Connor of the Ontario Court of Appeal not only probed the causes, but also set out detailed recommendations on how to prevent a recurrence. This “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” reflects pressures to increase drinking water safety that all jurisdictions in Canada have felt since the Walkerton tragedy.
2001 Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada also “uses funding arrangements with First Nations to define drinking water requirements. However, the wording of the arrangements is general and does not specifically refer to water systems. In 2001, in a submission to the Walkerton Inquiry, the Chiefs of Ontario stated: “First Nations, their consultants and federal officials are left to discern the applicable standards from vague and conflicting language in funding conditions, guidelines and manuals.” This situation had not changed significantly at the time of our audit. (OAG 2005 ).
2003 INAC and Health Canada developed the First Nations Water Management Strategy. The strategy is intended to fix most of the problems identified in the 2001 assessment and substantially improve the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities by 2008. It covers the following seven elements: developing comprehensive guidelines, policies, and standards; educating on-reserve residents about drinking water issues; clarifying roles and responsibilities; building and upgrading water systems to standards; improving operation and maintenance; providing operator training; and expanding water testing. The departments have been trying to address the last five points since 1995 (OAG 2005 ).
2004 World Health Organization published Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition).
2005 The Auditor General’s Office concluded that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and First Nations do not operate under a regulatory regime for drinking water as most provinces do. When it comes to the safety of drinking water, residents of First Nations communities do not benefit from a level of protection comparable with that of people living off reserves.2. There is no statute or regulation requiring the monitoring of the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities. Health Canada relies on its staff and on First Nations to sample and test drinking water quality. Regular tests at the frequency recommended under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are not carried out in most First Nations. When the results of these tests are reported to Health Canada, they are not properly recorded; nor are they systematically shared with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Finally, not all the information identified was collected by the departments in 2003–04 and some critical indicators were missing. Parliament is not yet receiving enough information about the First Nations Water Management Strategy and the quality and safety of drinking water in First Nations communities (OAG 2005 ).
2005 “Kashechewan made headlines in October 2005 after hundreds of its residents were evacuated to several Ontario towns and cities because of drinking water contaminated by E. coli bacteria.The evacuation prompted the federal and Ontario governments to scramble for solutions to the issue of dirty drinking water in First Nations communities (Barrett 2007).” “The October 2005 evacuation of the community of Kashechewan, in northern Ontario, brought to national attention concerns about the water in this remote community. The evacuation came close on the heels of a report from the federal Office of the Auditor General that found that residents of First Nations communities did not benefit from a level of drinking water protection comparable to that of people living off reserves (OAG 2005 ).”
2006 United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 3 and 31. On June 29, 2006 the Human Rights Council adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour to 2 against and 12 abstentions a resolution on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration was forwarded to the UN General Assembly for approval in 2006. Canada has so far decided not to support this Declaration. Nonetheless, were a Canadian government to decide to support the Declaration, this would be a further indication of the policy direction Canada intended to pursue, and would be consistent with the general movement towards recognizing aboriginal self-government rights “GC Vol 2. 2006.
2006 The most recent Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published in March, 2006 and last updated in September (HC 2006) did not provide an explicit definition of “safe drinking water” in Canada. There is no explicit definition in any provincial or territorial legislation (GN 2006).
2006 Kashechewan was under a precautionary Drinking Water Advisory, but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada claimed they had completed upgrades to the water systems and the system was closely monitored by a certified operator (DINA 2006 ).
2006 Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice launched a plan of action in March to address drinking water problems in First Nation communities. (CBC 2007)
2006 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada issued a priority list of communities identified as high risk drinking water systems with drinking water advisories in effect (DINA 2006 ). These high priority list in July 2006 included: New Brunswick: Woodstock, Pabineau; Quebec: Kitigan Zibi; Ontario: Constance Lake, Shoal Lake No. 40, Moose Deer Point, Northwest Angle, Ochiichagwe’babigo-ining, Kingfisher, Muskrat Dam Lake, Wabigoon Lake Ojibway; Alberta: Dene Tha’, Driftpile, Frog Lake; British Columbia: Shuswap, Toosey, Toquaht, Lake Babine (Fort Babine), Canoe Creek, Semiahmoo, Taku River Tlingit.”
2006 The Government of Canada’s panel of experts produced this report “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November.
2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine called for Ottawa’s immediate attention to the suicide-plagued community-in-crisis Kashechewan First Nation “Kashechewan and many other aboriginal communities in Ontario continue to struggle with poorly designed water plants or overly modern systems that are considered too costly to staff or maintain” [. . .] A report released in November by federal government adviser Alan Pope made a series of recommendations for Kashechewan, including moving the reserve to within the city limits of Timmins, Ont. – 450 kilometres from its current location on the shores of James Bay. Pope said the move would improve the lives of the community residents, particularly young people, by giving them access to high schools and post-secondary education, as well as economic opportunities and employment. But in a speech on [February 8, 2007] to the International Congress on Ethics in Gatineau, Que., Fontaine spoke out against such a move, saying that First Nations have been subject for too long to policy that amounts to “social engineering.” (Barrett 2007)
2007 Instead of providing new water plants for the 89 First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory, Health Canada will make better signs and posters warning people to stop drinking contaminated water. There are 600 First Nations communities concerned by the issue of clean water. Chief David General of Six Nations, ON knows his community members become ill from drinking tap water. “They would rather have a new water plant instead of a new communications strategy” (CBC 2007).
Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.
Barrett, Michael. 2007. Kashechewan ‘Community in Crisis’. Red Lake Net News. February 8.
CBC News. 2007. “Message about bad water on reserves not getting through: study.” May 11
DINA. 2006. “Priority List of First Nation Communities With High Risk Water Systems and Drinking Water Advisories.” Last Updated 2006-07-20
Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.” Vol. 1. November 15.
Government of Canada. 2006. “Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations: Legal Analysis.” Vol. 2. November 15.
Government of Canada. 2006. Report, Presentations and Written Submissions to the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations.
Health Canada. 2006. “Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.” >> Environmental & Workplace Health. Last Updated: 2006-09-19.
Health Canada. 2007. “Drinking Water Advisories.” in First Nations & Inuit Health. May 10.
Office of the Auditor General (OAG). 2005. “Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.” Last Updated: 2005-09-29.
2011-05-25 Former auditor general Sheila Fraser gave her final news conference in which she deplored the fact that First Nations’ access to the basics of life — education, child welfare, clean drinking water and adequate housing — are persistently and dramatically substandard, and in some cases deteriorating.
Kirkey, Sharon. 2011-06-10. “Despite billions spent, conditions on reserves have worsened: AG.” Postmedia News.
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (DINA). 1995. “On-Reserve Capital Facilities and Maintenance.”
WHO. 2004. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (3rd Edition). World Health Organization, Geneva. Website accessed September
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Moratorium on what some call Canadian ‘Blood Diamonds’? De Beers Canada benefit from government stalling tactics on land claims to extract valuable raw resources leaving behind environmental devastation. Many of the 45,000 Cree and Ojibwa in NAN region live in fourth world conditions in post-RCAP Canada. How many more NAN youth will choose suicide? Let’s not forget Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Kash’s still unsolved water problem.
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Benign colonialism for dummies: how to impress OECD while Canada’s First People live in Brazil-like favela. Canadian Public Policy research has been usefully challenged by seasoned journalist Atkinson Fellow Marie Wadden’s recent series which continues her research begun in 1978 in response to the hidden horrors of Canada’s Innu town, Davis Inlet. The True North strong and free has been limping for a long time.
Neither Left nor Right, just wrong
Decades later, Wadden concerned about the elusive solutions for problems of addiction in Canadian Aboriginal continues her research by visiting remote communities to find stories that will unsettle Canadian complacent apathy, compassion fatigue and worldly-wise jaded perspectives. We just do not want to give up the adventure stories that inspired our youth of Arctic explorers in frozen, isolated, hinterland Hudson Bay posts. Perhaps her shocking series will shake our stubborn pryde in our grandfathers’ mythologies while shamefully neglecting tragic tales from our Other grandparents.
Her passion for the subject earned her the 2005 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy and led her to a year-long, cross-country trek to look at the causes, effects and potential solutions to the addiction crisis among Aboriginals. Her series of stories — Tragedy or Triumph; Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions — is appearing in the Star and online at thestar.com/atkinson. Wadden began her career at CBC television in Newfoundland 27 years ago and has won numerous journalism awards. The St. John’s resident is the 17th winner of the Atkinson Fellowship and the first from east of Montreal. The fellowship, sponsored by The Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Toronto Star and the Beland Honderich family, aims to further liberal journalism in the tradition of Joseph E. Atkinson, the Star’s founder. The Atkinson Series, Tragedy or Triumph, Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions
Seven years in a Third World military dictatorship did not prepare me for the harsh reality of the everyday lives of Canadian Inuit and First Nations. I felt shame, powerlessness and confusion stemming from years of work as insider in cultural institutions devoted to Inuit studies. It took me ten years to build heightened levels of trust so all the stories pored out. The more I learned and accepted without offering bandaid solutions, patent excuses, weak explanations or high-haded social theories, the more stories seemed to come to me. It was as if I had a pair of antennas, an open channel to a stream of unending stories each one corraborating the other. The more I learned the more I questioned so I paralleled the kitchen table accounts with deep research into footnotes of published materials, Hansards, and cross-disciplinary work. I asked more specific questions of Inuit elders and the knowers in communities. (The knowers were often Inuit women of any age who had been chosen to learn more because of their superior abilities to learn languages. Their emotional maturity, discretion and wisdom was daunting. Often stories were shared in whispers. I would never get permission to share them. Potent stories of individual personal strength, survival could not be shared because the surviving members of the perpetrators of violence and injustice were still alive. In small isolated hamlets there are systems of power in everyday life that are as imposing as those on parliament hill. This explains why a convicted sex offender can be chosen to represent a community (where family violence is extremely high — off the charts in terms of the Canadian average) in the political arena. In Third World countries there is always the hope that education and maturity, in civil society and democracy, might provide improved access to human rights for citizens. My despair, my overwhelming sense of hopelessness, became consuming as I realized that this tragedy was taking place in one of the more advanced democracies with a relatively informed civil society. I began to meticulously develop a detailed timeline of the social histories of First Nations, Inuit (and African-Canadians). I would take the stories shared by friends and students and cross-reference them with dates provided by classical ethnographers, anthropologists, art historians, museologists, geographers, geologists, administrators and Hudson Bay Company reports. I reread the entire series of Inuit Studies, Inuit Art Quarterly and realized that it was not bad research on my part that made me so shamefully unaware. The very cultural institutions on whom we depend for insight into our shared communal memories, these institutions have failed us miserably. They continue to perpetrate distorted histories insisting covertly on presenting a benign colonialism. Examine the brilliant RCAP, the most in-depth (and expensive) report, undertaken using a progressive research methodology called Participatory Action Research (PAR). It’s on-line and available for anyone! Read the section on how our institutions of public curricula were specifically called upon to reexamine distorted histories in collaboration with Inuit and First Nations communties. The do as I did and examine what these institutions have done since then. A tourist visiting Canada’s cultural institutions, either virtually or in glass, steel and stone buildings, such as the National Gallery of Canada or the Museum of Civilization, or exploring Cybermuse, will not learn of the depth of despair of First Nations and Inuit communties. They will leave perhaps learning something of the heroic status of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Inuit art cooperatives, the benefits to Inuit of entering the international art market, the exquisite aesthetics of Inuit clothing from the pre-1950s, Inuit legends shortened and deformed for consumer tastes. They will learn about the dynamic Inuit culture as if the best of the culture sank with the Nascopie. Explorers and Hudson Bay Company employees are heroized when their work should now be reviewed through the lens of the informed, intelligent generation born in the 1930s and 1940s. Remove the overt desire to portray colonialism in Canada’s north as benign, to continue to cherish histories of post WWII heroism of southerners who conquered the hinterland to benefit all Canadians. Challenge the assumptions that learning English, the market system and the northern form of Canadian democracy was beneficial in the long-run. Unsettle the assumption that the errors were in the past and we should all move on. The litany of mistakes outlined in this brilliant, moving, informed series can be complemented by a thorough reading of one of Canads’ most-difficult-to-read stories, Mistakes. Let’s ask the communal archives of memory for the answers to the questions about what really happened to Inuit-Scottish, Inuit-Danish and Inuit-Icelandic children abandoned in the 1930s, 1940, 1950s, 1960s by their fathers who returned south and built profitable careers on their heroism, adventures in Canada’s north while ignoring pleas from their former partners, and even own children abandoned to the care of small vulnerable hamlets. We no longer accept that the genetic pool of the Scottish, British, American, Danish and Icelandic improved Inuit and First Nations do we? How can we continue in 2006 to lionize those who felt pryde in their improvement of the gene pool? Is there no way that we can honour our blue eyed grandfathers without simply forgetting. We need serious, committed memory work on the level of what has been done in Post WWII Europe. The situations are in no way the same. But the revamping of our institutions of communal memory is just taking too long. In Post WWII Europe it became evident over the decades that it could not be ignored by national cultural institutions. In Canada it has been politically shrewd to use delaying tactics in our museums just as we have in land claims issues, and the dozens of other recommendations of the RCAP. Read the most recent articles by Canada’s anthropologist and you will find apologies for these institions arguing that great progress has been made. After al we do have an Algonquin canoe floating silently in the Group of Seven section of the National Gallery of Canada. Silently is the word. Speak to renowned Algonquin elder William Commanda and put his voice through a loud speaker in those galleries. Listen to him describe the starvation when tourism trade grew as southerners flocked north to enjoy the Canadian Shield. Hear his gentle, firm voice as he describes in elaborate detail how he built canoes to stave off starvation as the First Nations communities were denied access to their fishing camps which had become the land of the tourists. He speaks without rage. His voice is still powerfully spiritual. He calls for a freeing of the rivers from the damage of the dams. In the room devoted to Canadian art of the 1950s install a Stan Douglas type piece where the voices of Inuit and First Nations whose lives were irrevocably changed by the one of the worst incidence of TB on the planet speak of their grandfathers, camp leaders, fathers, the hunters, trappers and fishers buried in unmarked graves near Moose Factory’s sanitorium.
In the National Gallery of Canada’s Inuit Art section (in the basement) remind visitors that the artists whose works continue to be revered, have suffered starvation in Canada in the 1940s and 1950s, have succumbed to alcoholism, and drugs, that they have met violent deaths through suicides, murders, or in preventable house fires. How many Canadians know the other stories connected to Inuit women artists who made history when they were honoured with the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest award or the Royal Canadian Academy? One died alone in a hospital near Montreal in the 1980s, so depressed because of her linguistic isolation (she could only speak Inuktitut) that she gave away her ulu, the woman’s knife so affectionately mentioned in articles about Inuit art. Another was confused at one time when nortern officials refused food to her family during the peoriod of starvation in the 1950s. What about Canada’s most widely admired Inuit artist whose works are honoured internationally who was now ill, forced to live on city streets and was so badly beaten by police he carried a lump on his forehead for weeks. They and/or their families still live in houses where the entire contents of their fridges are a plastic bottle of ketchup and mustard. The have developed diabetes. A few have become violent and abusive. So many Inuit artists are in the Baffin Correction Centre at any given time that local people suggest a visit as part of the itinerary for Iqaluit, Nunavut’s art scene. Then let’s see some footage of the renowned Inuit elder and activist, as he describes through his son, artist and interpretor, his trip to New York or his interpretation of one of his carvings. Let’s hear him sing with tears in his eyes, the song he wrote for the homeless man on the streets of New York. Where is the strong articulate voice of Sheila Watt-Cloutier in any contemporary site claiming to represent to Inuit culture? If you do not know this name you should. She has made history. What about Paul Okalik, Peter Erniq. These are names all Canadians should know. Let’s begin with something simple: honest, inclusive timelines. Let’s contextualize stories about Inuit culture. Stop funding Inuit studies unless there is a critical component that examines issues, not as tidy sanitized disciplines that claim to be protecting Inuit art and culture from the sordid truths of everyday life. Inuit art and culture are dynamic, alive, robust. The Inuit art and culture market will survive but perhaps not by continuing to enrich southerers or those who live decades in the north, return to the south and continue to become enriched on their insider knowledge. If Inuit benefited fully from their own art production in a sustainable, equitable fashion there would be far less need of so much government intervention. There is more percapita talent in the tiny hamlet of Clyde River waiting for a venue than there is many southern cities. There is also far more youth suicide, violence against women and despair.
The private Atkinson Foundation, founded in 1942 by former publisher of The Toronto Star, promotes social and economic justice in the tradition Joseph E. Atkinson. This includes the work of Armine Yalnizyan, (2000), “Inequality Rises As More Families Slide To The Bottom Of The Income Scale: Tax cuts don’t address economic reality says new report,” Centre of Social Justice, January 27, 2000 http://www.atkinsonfoundation.ca/publications/The_Great_Divide_Armine_
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November 25, 2006
Child poverty in Canada is almost six time that of Denmark. Overall poverty rates are also high. 10 % of Canadians live in poverty – a stark contrast to Denmark’s 4.3 % and Sweden’s 5.3. (Rothman, Laurel. 2006. “Report of a Standing Committee on Finance,” www.campaign2000.ca) Recommendations: minimum wage $10 per hour; Employment Insurance reform.
CBC, 2006. Aboriginal children face terrible poverty in Canada: report: B.C. and Newfoundland have highest rates; Alberta and P.E.I. have lowest rates. Last Updated: Friday, November 24, 2006 | 2:04 PM ET, Accessed November 24, 2006 11:19 PT.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Canada’s nasty secrets revealed to OECD: Child Poverty in Rich Countries,” last updated November 24, 2006 11:05 am. papergirls.wordpress.com, accessed (YY/MM/DD) http://papergirls.wordpress.com/2006/11/25/canadas-nasty-secrets-
Laurel Rothman, Laura. 2006. “Reducing Child & Family Poverty in a Time of Prosperity: The Roles of Tax Benefits, Public Investments and the Labour Market Submission to Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultation,” http://www.campaign2000.ca/rc/rc06/06_C2000NationalReportCard.pdf Last updated YY/MM/DD Accessed November 24, 2006.
Selected webliography on Status of Women Canada generated from my Endnote bibliography, compiled from (1992?-present)
Dion-Stout, Madeleine & Kipling, Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research Directions for Policy Development. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.c/publish/research/abwom-ehtml
Dion Stout, Madeleine & Kipling, Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research Directions for Policy Development. Ottawa, ON, Status of Women Canada. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662634314/199803_0662634314_e.pdf
Frulla, Liza (2005) Statement of Canada. United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 10-year Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/newsroom/news2005/0302_e.html
Gender Equality, Aboriginal Women (2000) Roundtable Report. Ottawa, Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable on Gender Equality. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/publish/table/010914-e.pdf
Jenson, Jane (2004) A Decade of Challenges; A Decade of Choices: Consequences for Canadian Women. Montréal, Canadian Policy Research Network-Family Network. http://www.cprn.com/en/doc.cfm?doc=558
Kenny, Carolyn, Faries, Emily, Fiske, Jo-Anne & Voyageur, Cora (2004) A Holistic Framework for Aboriginal Policy Research. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662379594/200410_0662379594_1_e.html
Kipling, Dion-Stout and Gregory D. (1998) Aboriginal Women in Canada: Strategic Research directions for Policy Development. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.c/publish/research/abwom-ehtml
Lindsay, Colin, Almey, Marcia & Statistics Canada (2004) A Quarter Century of Change: Young Women in Canada in the 1970s and Today. Ottawa, Status of Women Canada (SWC) Policy Research Fund. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/pubs/0662388976/200412_0662388976_1_e.html
Press Release (1998) Fry welcomes gender breakthrough in APEC. Manilla, Phillipines. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/newsroom/news1998/1019-2_e.html
SWC (1995) Setting the Stage for the Next Century: The Federal Plan for Gender Equality. Status of Women Canada
SWC (1999) Highlights of Federal Government Initiatives to Address Violence Against Women: Legislative Reforms That Assist in Addressing Violence Against Women in 1999: Bill C-79. Status of Women Canada. http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca
Voyer, Jean-Pierre (2003) Introduction: Social Capital: A Useful Tool for Public Policy? in Initiative, Policy Research Horizons. Public Works and Government Services Canada. http://policyresearch.gc.ca/v6n3_e.pdf
Filed in Aboriginal Women in Canada, child poverty, critical ethnography, CulturalAnthropology, First Nations, human rights, Memory Work, Nunavut, OECD, Public Policy, social exclusion, Social Justice, urban ethnography, vulnerability to social exclusion, webliographies
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Economist Milton Friedman, propagated 18th century values in the Post-WWII global economy. Like Adam Smith he preached the gospel of minimal government, laissez-faire. The triad, Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944), Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957), and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962) pit economic efficiency against social justice.
I compiled this digitized collage, inspired by Deborah Barndt’s Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail on November 16, 2006. I used a Google earth generated globe to situate as a kind of circumtomato globe. I developed the concept of John Elkington’s Cannibals with Forks for the image of a world being devoured by those who choose to make decisions based on only one bottom line.
See also speechless.wordpress.com
Barndt, Deborah (2001) Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail, Aurora, ON, Garamond Press.
Davis, Ian. 2005. “The biggest contract: By building social issues into strategy, big business can recast the debate about its role, argues Ian Davis.” The Economist. May 28.
“The great, long-running debate about business’s role in society is currently caught between two contrasting, and tired, ideological positions. On one side of the current debate are those who argue that (to borrow Milton Friedman’s phrase) the “business of business is business”. This belief is most established in Anglo-Saxon economies. On this view, social issues are peripheral to the challenges of corporate management. The sole legitimate purpose of business is to create shareholder value. On the other side are the proponents of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), a rapidly growing, rather fuzzy movement encompassing both companies which claim already to practise CSR and sceptical campaign groups arguing they need to go further in mitigating their social impacts. As other regions f the world—parts of continental and central Europe, for example— move towards the Anglo-Saxon shareholder-value model, debate between these sides has increasingly taken on global significance. That is a pity. Both perspectives obscure in different ways the significance of social issues to business success. They also caricature unhelpfully the contribution of business to social welfare. It is time for CEOs of big companies to recast this debate and recapture the intellectual and moral high ground from their critics. Large companies need to build social issues into strategy in a way which reflects their actual business importance. They need to articulate business’s social contribution and define its ultimate purpose in a way that has more subtlety than “the business of business is business” worldview and is less defensive than most current CSR approaches. It can help to view the relationship between big business and society in this respect as an implicit “social contract”: Rousseau adapted for the corporate world, you might say. This contract has obligations, opportunities and mutual advantage for both sides.” See The Economist premium content.
Elkington, John (1997) Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, New Society Publishers, Limited.
Elkington, John (2003) Chrysalis Economy: How Citizen CEOs and Corporations Can Fuse Values and Value Creation, Wiley, John and Sons, Incorporated.
- CBC, 2006. “In Depth: Wealth Canada’s super-rich,” CBC News, Last Updated December 4, 2006, accessed December 12, 2006.
- Canadian Business magazine lists 1. the Ken Thomson family (media) $24.4 Billion Cdn or 19.6 Billion US); 2. Galen Weston (groceries) $7.1 $24.4 Billion Cdn; 3. The Irving family (oil) $5.45 Billion Cdn; 4. Ted Rogers Jr. (media) $4.54 Billion Cdn; 5. Paul Desmarais Sr. (Power Corp.) $4.41 Billion Cdn; 6. Jimmy Pattison (entrepreneur) $4.35 Billion Cdn; 7. Jeff Skoll (eBay) $3.93 $4.41 Billion Cdn; 8. Barry Sherman (Apotex drugs) $3.23 Billion Cdn; 9. David Azrieli (real estate) $2.44 Billion Cdn; Fred and Ron Mannix (mining) $2.38 Billion Cdn as ten of the 22 Canadian families who are part of the uber wealthy group of 793 billionaires who control $2.6 trillion US of the world’s wealth. Others include Alexander Schnaider (steel) baron, Calvin Ayre (online gambling), John MacBain (classified ads), Guy Laliberté (Cirque du Soleil) 1 Billion Cdn. of this group of 22 billionaires their money came from pharmaceuticals, media, oil and gas, food retailing, printing, money management, construction and the BlackBerry. Five of the 22 are in their forties.
- Danko, William D. The Millionaire Next Door
- Danko, William D. Richer Than A Millionaire
- Drummond, Don, Tulk, David. 2006. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Unequal: an Investigation into Wealth Inequality in Canada.” Special Report. TD Bank Financial Group. December 13, 2006. Accessed December 14, 2006.
- Drummond explains how the wealthier quintile of the Canadian population will continue to become wealthier while the middle quintiles will suffer with lower wage gains intensifying wealth disparities. The assets of of the lowest quintile fell by 9. 1% since 1999. This is the group which includes single women, Canada’s children who live in poverty and seniors.
What is also interesting is that there is a significant amount of inequality within the highest wealth quintile of Canadians. One can get an appreciation of this fact by noting the pronounced difference between the mean and median asset holdings. While median net worth for the top 20% is $862,900, the average stands at $1,264,200 suggesting a significant skew towards the extremely wealthy. This difference is even more pronounced when holdings of individual assets are compared for those who hold them within the highest quintile. The largest source of the skew towards the wealthy comes from the holdings of bonds which has a mean-median ratio of 7.9 (the larger the ratio, the greater the share of the asset is held by the top segment of the wealthy). The nebulous category of “other non-financial assets” also has a significant concentration in the super-wealthy. Included within this category are such items as the contents of the residence, valuables, collectables, as well as such high value and sparsely-held items as copyrights and patents. [...] Within this category, the share of employer-sponsored pension plans (18.5%) is twice as large as individual pension assets (10.5%) such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), and Locked-in Retirement Accounts (LIRAs). Holdings of non-pension financial assets (10.4%) and equity in business (10.5%) each represent a comparatively smaller portion of total asset holdings.
- Morissette, René, Zhang, Xuelin. 2006. “Revisiting wealth inequality: Perspectives on Wealth and Income,” Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/75-001-XIE/11206/high-1.htm
Vol. 7, no. 12. December 13, 2006. Accessed December 14, 2006.
- “When all families are considered, real average wealth rose 70% from [1999 to 2005] however wealth inequity increased as well. Real average wealth increased between 51% to 70% reflecting large increases for the wealthiest 10% of Canadians who held 58% of the wealth, a percentage that continues to rise as it has since 1984. For fifteen years prior to the deep cuts made in the post-1984 period of deficit panic wealth inequity fell then plateaued. Canadian families will continue to become more at-risk to social exclusion as their debts increase, equities are reduced and they face little or no wage increase.Morissette and Zhang (2006) reveal how challenging it is to estimate the share of total wealth controlled by the upper quintile, particularly the UHNW. See also Davies (1993). While 10% may control 58% of Canadian wealth less than 1% of Canadian families may in effect hold up to 46% of the wealth.While Morissette and Zhang (2006) claim that elderly unattached individuals saw their median wealth double, from roughly $48,000 in 1984 to $100,000 in 2005, they did not qualify that the extremes of wealth and poverty skew the statistics. See the article on the large number of senior Canadians who live below the poverty line.While the wealthiest quintile, particularly the top 1% benefited since 1984, the lowest quintile, mainly female lone-parent families remain as by far the most financially vulnerable. “In all years, more than 40% of persons in these families were in low income and would have stayed in that state even after liquidating their financial assets.” This is where Canada’s children who live in poverty in a rich country live. Lower quintile included those with median wealth no higher than $7,000, families with no assets at their disposal to lessen the impact of unexpected expenses or earnings disruptions. The average wealth of the most vulnerable families fell to -$1000 between 1999 and 2005 from zero assets/debt ratio through the 1980s to negative (about -$1,000) in both 1999 and 2005. The value of their real estate, for those who did have a modest home, did not rise. “it fell substantially among those in which the major income recipient was aged 25 to 34. In 2005, these families had median wealth of $13,400 (in 2005 dollars), much lower than the $27,000 and $17,400 registered in 1984 and 1999 respectively.” While in the middle quintile there was a modest rise of average wealth rose of about $19,000, families in the most wealthy quintile experienced a substantial increase in the value of their real estate. They allocated more of their financial assets to RRSPs and LIRA holdings. They sharply increased their investments in RRSPs between 1986 and 2003. “Median wealth more than doubled between 1970 and 2005, having grown by c.20-25% since 1984. While the median wealth of young families fell by half between 1984 and 2005, it rose by almost 40% for those in which the major income recipient was a university graduate aged 35 to 54.”
- Stenner, Thane, Bower, Rod, Currie, John, O.Connor, Rory. 2006. “True Wealth Report: Values and Views of Ultra-Affluent Individuals,” http://www.truewealthreport.com/downloads/2006_TWR_low.pdf.
- Researchers for the True Wealth report surveyed 165 Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals, those whose assets are over $10.
Filed in Aboriginal Women in Canada, child poverty, how to be poor in a rich country, OECD, Political Philosophy, Public Policy, Risk Society, social exclusion, Social Justice, vulnerability to social exclusion, Web 2.0
Tags: Aboriginal Women in Canada, Beck, Ulrich, Beijing Platform for Action, Canadian Policy Research Network, child poverty, CPRN, Deborah Barndt, digg, economic efficiency model, First Nations social history, Globalization on the Tomato Trail, Habermas, homelessness, how to be poor in a rich country, minimum wage, OECD, Policy Development, policy research, RCAP, social capital, social exclusion, Statistics Canada, Status of Women Canada, SWC, Tangled Roots, thinking press vs mass media