Friday, 20 May 2011

The aboriginal services industry

In Jim Bell's recent editorial, Nunavut likes a winner,, he wrote that:

"When political leaders and senior bureaucrats across Nunavut woke up May 3 to contemplate the previous night’s election result, it’s a fair bet that most were smiling from ear to ear.

Given Nunavut’s utter dependence on the federal government, stability and predictability are crucial. The Conservative party’s majority in the House of Commons means Nunavut leaders now know whom they will deal with for the next four and a half years.

And if you’re a Nunavut leader, Leona Aglukkaq’s convincing re-election as Nunavut MP is even better news. That’s because the territory will continue to enjoy representation on the federal cabinet and at least some access to federal decision-making.

Nunavut likes a winner. When you’re weak and dependent, it’s the winner who offers the greatest degree of security and the greatest opportunity to gain what you need."

Like most non-Inuit who "live" in Inuit Nunaat and who have become "experts" on Inuit, he has an assumption that there are functional/psychological correspondences and similarities between non-Inuit and Inuit - that the differences in history, language, culture and socio-economics are merely incidental - though these apparent similarities are, at a deeper level, merely genotypes and not expressed in phenotypes.

Elections are almost always a crap-shoot especially when fairness prevails, even more so in Nunavut. But I digress.

The Nunatsiaq News rag is rarely kind to Inuit of Nunavut and has become increasingly blatantly cynical since the creation of Nunavut. It is as if Bell blames his shame and disappointment with government fiascos and blunders on Inuit who have little or no real presence in the upper echelons of power that is the GN and Aboriginal Affairs bureaucracies.

The problems are not of politics but more to do with the technical side of governments where real power resides. Nunavut suffers from the aboriginal services industry as all aboriginal groups under dominions of hegemony across the world. Nunavut, like most aboriginal groups of Canada, rarely achieves full eligibility requirements of federal and territorial funding that are ostensibly geared towards us.

Though I don't know the exact numbers, I know that untold millions of funding dollars lapse every year in Nunavut - monies that populate the budgets of governments - slated for small patchworks of aboriginals, which seem unjustifiably generous on paper though rarely reflected in the sorry realities in which our communities find themselves.

We must keep this unjustifiable "generosity" in perspective: bureaucracies are self-justifying systems. Most of the monies go to administration and O&M, and all the while social breakdown accelerates and participation rates in health, the criminal justice system, and welfare rolls keep rising. In this numbers game, there is no progress, only regression and degeneration. The rules and eligibility criteria ensures it.

In a jurisdiction where a large segment of our population speaks little or no English, government services are autistic and unresponsive. But, given the unjustifiable generosity, we should be grateful to the English-only bureaucrats and journalists who've graciously accepted an outpost at cost. But is our history of "weakness and dependency" our own fault or a self-fulfilling prophesy?

I, for one, am not holding my breath and hoping for political solutions to our social ills.


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