Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Look at Canadian Indian Policy

Canadian Indian policy a dismal failure and should be changed to focus on individuals, not traditional bands.

Canada's current Indian policy is deeply flawed and will be unable to change and progress until the country moves away from the concept of Indians as a collective and parallel society and embraces the idea of Indians as individuals, argues Gordon Gibson in a new book published by the Fraser Institute.

"Our current policy presumes and enforces a relationship between the Indian individual and relevant collectives, a relationship that is biased against individual freedom and choice," says Gibson, a former B.C. MLA, noted author and public policy expert, and Fraser Institute senior fellow.

"It costs a ton of money and yields disappointment in return. This relationship has produced adverse social outcomes in health, education, life span, incomes, employment, substance abuse, violence, imprisonment, and so on, that are universally criticized."

Gibson concludes that eliminating the poverty, despair and lack of education and employment opportunities facing Indians living on reserves will only come about by helping individual Indians make the most out of their individual lives.

This will not mean eliminating the choice of the parallel reserve system, but rather by adding new choices for individuals such as:

  • Providing a voucher system in education to be administered by parents, not the collective, allowing children to be educated at any school in the province chosen by the parents;
  • Making welfare funding available for income support according to local provincial standards and free from local politics, and administered by each province;
  • Providing funding for complete health care service delivery with on-reserve locations as negotiated with Band governments or accessible external facilities;
  • Reforming the current politically correct, parallel child-care system; and
  • Bringing accountability to Indian governments by sending much of current federal government funding to individuals instead, subject to a "tax back" by Chief and Council as approved by the local on-reserve voters.

"The new approach is simple: the touchstone is the individual, not the collective. The Indian tribe is not of paramount importance; that status is reserved for the Indian individual. The tribe is merely an instrument that individuals may employ more, or less, or not at all," Gibson says.

To read the full book you can use this Nanaimo Info LINK.


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