Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins travelled to the troubled James Bay community of Attawapiskat on Wednesday. After speaking with community leaders and youth about the reserve’s recent rash of suicide attempts, he told reporters the situation was “deeply upsetting” — but also said Attawapiskat’s “courage” in confronting its problems left him with a sense of hope.
This is more or less how all officials are expected to react after visiting aboriginal reserves reeling from tragedy. It is not enough to lament the horrors on display. There must always be some ennobling sense of optimism that things will get better. The idea of hope — of human progress and redemption, even in the face of epic loss — is embedded in our optimistic Western liberal culture.
In fact, there is little hope for Attawapiskat. Hoskins probably knows this as well as anybody. But a Canadian politician simply isn’t allowed to speak plain truths — not on this subject. He has to pretend we can put in place some bright, shiny plan of action that will transform all our Attawapiskats into healthy, vibrant, productive communities.
This is the giant institutionalized lie that sits at the heart of Canada’s official policy toward First Nations...
This 2012 report on Attawaspikat shows some of the problems that have been ongoing at that reserve, and that our government and the natives themselves refuse to deal with: