“We have families living in tents and sheds and winter is coming. There is a risk to these families, especially the young children.”
Can you guess who this quote refers to? Survivors of October’s earthquake in Turkey? People displaced by monsoon flooding in Pakistan?
Wrong. The quote describes indigenous people living in northern Canada.
The northern Ontario settlement of Attawapiskat has a population of 3,281 but only 304 homes. Kashechewan has 1,900 people with only 268 houses while Fort Albany has approximately 1,000 people and only 150 residences.
Indigenous leader Leo Friday says that “while the average person per household in Canada is around 2.3, it ranges from 6.5 to eight people per household in our communities”.
The area’s member of parliament, Charlie Angus, says the federal government needs to provide “adequate housing and a housing strategy“.
Some Canadians argue that residents in these places should simply move south to larger communities; yet at the same time they would defend the rights of aboriginal people in other parts of the world to not be displaced from their hereditary lands.
Canada is one of the world’s richest countries; we welcome immigrants into a multicultural society that celebrates differences. Should we not be able to find a way to accommodate our original inhabitants who choose to maintain their historic, cultural ties to their land?