Yes, I hear and understand where former prime minister Jean Chrétien was coming from when he spoke of the situation in Attawapiskat: “There is no economic base there for having jobs… and sometimes they have to move, like anybody else.”
Chrétien and others have good reasons for having this belief.
But have we thought of the repercussions that would follow such a migration?
If all the residents of Attawapiskat were to leave and go to let’s say, Thunder Bay, I’m guessing a large number would end up on the streets and a large percentage of those would probably turn to drugs and alcohol.
Even though their living conditions are deplorable they don’t want to leave their land—they still have their traditional way of life.
From the municipal point of view of the cities they migrate to, what becomes of their situation with this sudden influx of residents from Attawapiskat and other communities in similar situations?
Will the provincial and federal governments give places like Thunder Bay billions of extra funding for more housing, education, health and other services resulting from this migration?
If we refer to the influx of thousands of Syrian refugee over past months, many are still living in hotels/motels waiting to be allocated housing.
I agree Canada was correct in bringing them here, but are they willing to do the same for those whose ancestors originally lived on this land we now call Canada? Just asking!
To reiterate differently: Would large towns and cities be willing and able to house (including more rentals, and social housing), educate, provide health care, social services, food banks, transportation, etc. an influx of thousands and thousands of on-reserve migrants from their northern communities?
In 2016 are we really asking and expecting First Nations to be willing to leave their land and assimilate!
Think of the trauma they will experience on top of the existing trauma most already try to cope with from ‘our’ previous attempts to assimilate them through residential schools and the 50’s/60’s Scoop!