Bad to worse on the reserve
The band manager Stephen Harper sent in to manage the reserve’s business affairs took away the band’s money ($1.5 million) and refuses to pay the schoolteachers’ salaries until the chiefs open the books to him.
More bad news. It was bad enough when Harper decided the Indians would have to pay his band manager’s $1,200 a month salary.
Now it turns out they have to pay his travel and housing expenses as well. That’s $20,000 a month, or $240,000 a year -- big money anywhere in Canada— money Attawapiskat residents don’t have to waste on Harper’s man.
More bad news. The temporary housing units Harper promised before Christmas are finally on their way from Fredericton to Attawapiskat.
The modular units were supposed to reach the reserve by the end of January but now with the warm weather further south around Timmins means the winter ice road to the Attawapiskat won’t be ready until February or maybe March.
Seems Canada is going through some global warming. Harper probably knows all about that.
Tough luck. So for another month it’s back to the tents, the plywood shacks in the 30-degree below weather.
The United Nations “rapporteur” investigator filed his report castigating Harper and comparing us to the Third World. All we need now are the UN blue berets.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty came to the rescue and sent up by air warm blankets, space heaters and emergency food supplies.
The chiefs invited Harper to come up and see the misery for himself but he’s much too busy right now. The Commons Christmas holidays are over at the end of the month. Harper has to prepare.
Harper’s manager, Jacques Marion, did accomplish one thing. He hired workers to fix up the reserve’s “healing centre” to temporarily house about 60 people who were freezing in unacceptable housing.
But the healing centre is six kilometres from the village centre. That’s a long way for kids to walk to school or to go play with their friends.
The chiefs have turned to the last weapon they have to fight Harper. They’re taking him to court later this month to try to get back some of that money his manager took from them. At least they’ll be able to pay teachers.