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Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence holds hands with fellow hunger striker Jean Socks as she stands beside supporter Danny Metatawabin during a press conference outside her teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence holds hands with fellow hunger striker Jean Socks as she stands beside supporter Danny Metatawabin during a press conference outside her teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Jan. 9: Promises made to first nations, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Promises made

Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike focuses attention on the Crown’s not keeping faith with the first nations that entered into historic treaties with the Crown (First Nations Bringing Treaty-Rights Challenge To The Courts – Jan. 8).

Unfortunately, the track record of broken promises continues in relation to aboriginal peoples who are partners with the Crown in modern treaties that cover Arctic and sub-Arctic Canada. For example, in 2006, Nunavut Inuit were forced to sue the Crown for numerous fundamental breaches of the 1993 Nunavut Agreement. These breaches involve, among other things, denial of economic opportunities, inadequate pre-employment training, and lack of environmental monitoring – all critical to Nunavut Inuit achieving greater self-sufficiency, a central objective the agreement. Inuit brought this lawsuit after the Crown unilaterally withdrew from negotiations, rejected offers to arbitrate, and refused to respond to the recommendations of an outside conciliator. We have won a summary judgment on one specific breach of our agreement, and our litigation continues.

In our experience of broken promises under our modern treaty, Nunavut Inuit are far from alone. Such problems are so prevalent, a coalition uniting all modern treaty groups has been established precisely for the purpose of having those treaties appropriately honoured. It is time to learn from history, rather than repeat its mistakes. Promises made must be promises kept.

Cathy Towtongie, president, Nunavut Tunngavik


Yes, the recipient of public funds must document what is done with the monies (Attawapiskat Audit Raises Questions About Millions In Spending – Jan. 7). But government officials can’t just shovel more than $100-million out the door and say, “Have a nice day.”

Where is the government’s responsibility in the findings of the Attawapiskat audit?

Graham Steeves, Port Elgin, Ont.


Do the math: $104-million, over six years for 1,500 people, works out to about $11,555 per person per year. Perhaps not abject poverty, but that would depend on your definition of “abject” (A Way Forward – letters, Jan.8).

Linda Armstrong, Toronto


At a time when so many comments on native affairs are extreme, either in their support or criticism, Jeffrey Simpson’s criticism of the very idea of uneconomic remote communities, rather than the people living there, is refreshing (Nothing More Than A Dream Palace Of Memory – Jan. 5).

The reserve system has now had more than a century and a half to prove workable but has, instead, shown itself to be a miserable failure. Unfortunately there are still those, including The Globe and Mail, judging by its lead Saturday editorial (Fish Broth Is Not A Solution – Jan. 5), who believe that reserves – racially segregated rural settlements – can be turned into “viable economic Indian communities.” Sorry, but one more meeting on Jan. 11 between chiefs and politicians, just like the many meetings before it, is going to do nothing toward that end.

Richard D. McDonell, Red Deer, Alta.


Bank on big fees

You are surely correct that there is not enough banking competition to save Canadians from high ATM fees, non-negotiable account charges, or stunning credit-card rates (But About Those Fees – editorial, Jan. 5).

Big banks (Bank-Fee Value – letters, Jan. 8) have been peculiar evangelists for a competitive market because they offer the advice from behind ownership barriers that provide a measure of protection from foreign entry. Among the fee levels that result have been some of the highest mutual fund fees in the world.

Robert R. Kerton, Waterloo, Ont.


Disputed lessons

Re Minister Offers Little But ‘Hope’ For Peace In Public Schools (Jan. 8): Hope is at best a placebo; more typically, it is a narcotic that will remove the ability and desire to ask those awkward questions. When a politician offers you hope, you may well conclude that he or she has no plans to make your life better, no intention to act, and likely no ability to achieve results.

One simple step could solve our education-related problems and open up countless opportunities, and that is the school voucher – accountability and control placed in the hands of every parent. Hope-peddlers would soon be unemployed, and they know it.

Brian Beckett, Nepean, Ont.


The language in the Ontario government’s announcement that the repeal of Bill 115 will restore the right to strike to teachers seems just a bit disingenuous. A right, by definition, is something that cannot be absolved, withdrawn, or periodically ignored. To speak with accuracy in a language that respects recent political reality, the Liberals should state that: “Teachers will perhaps henceforth be permitted to strike, provided that it occurs at a time of mutual convenience for teachers, students, families and government – and provided that any future strike does not transgress acceptable levels of political fallout.”

Mark Jurdjevic, Toronto


And the mayor is …

The multiple-ballot runoff system used to fill vacancies by Toronto City Council suggests a solution for replacing Rob Ford, if he loses his appeal (Ford’s Lawyer Fights To Win Appeal – Jan. 8). All councillors – including Mr. Ford, to give him his second chance – should stand for mayor. After each ballot, the councillors with the fewest votes should drop off the ballot, until one councillor receives a majority of fellow councillors’ votes. Whoever achieves a majority of councillors’ votes is mayor until the next election.

Michael D. Levin, Toronto


Fans fight back?

With the fight over fans’ money now complete (NHL Lockout – Jan. 8), I propose an Un-Ooccupy The NHL movement. I’d love to see fans boycott each team’s home opener. Just one game. The owners and players temporarily locked us out. I propose temporarily locking them out.

Peter Noble, Calgary


Comparing hockey to religion is interesting since so many call religion “irrelevant” (The Church Of Hockey Gets Ready For Mass Again – Jan. 7). I wish that were so for hockey. I have no time for million-dollar hockey players or billion-dollar owners.

Real hockey takes place down the street or in the local rink. Now that’s a relevant religion I can watch.

Rev. John Pentland, Calgary


Same old, same old, indeed. NHL teams aren’t even on the ice yet and sports writers are already dumping on the Leafs (Same Old, Same Old – Sports, Jan. 8).

Jean Mills, citizen of Leafs Nation, Guelph, Ont.

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