First Nation, Metis & Inuit people are confronted with unique public policy challenges comprised of at least three parts:
- Geographic Isolation: Virtually all our communities are located in isolated, remote or rural communities with very small populations. This poses a challenge for infrastructure investments primarily but certainly in other areas as well. It’s an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” scenario.
- Demographic Marginalization: The majority of our population is under the age of 22 years old while the majority of the non-Aboriginal population is over 45. The Aboriginal population is also the minority by a huge margin. Government investments are targeted at the older, non-Aboriginal older majority. So you are likely to see investments in healthcare targeted at chronic or elderly health issues as opposed to Aboriginal children’s health. As a result, investment in issues that are important to Aboriginal youth – education, prenatal health, childcare, child protection – has been limited. Too often, these issues get lost or put aside.
- Jurisdictional Chaos: The provinces and federal government get caught up in a brutal game of “hot Aboriginal potato”. It becomes a game of “You fund them/ No, you fund them” – based on jurisdictional arguments between the two levels of governments. The sad part is they usually don’t involve Aboriginal people in the dialogue. As a result, you create mistrust, perpetuate misinformation and build in an “Us vs. Them” mindset.
Together these 3 challenges create a very unique public policy conundrum for Aboriginal communities when trying to advance a better quality of life.
One of the sad realties I have experienced in my political and professional life has been when I’ve heard MPs or MLAs or influential government officials say a version of the following: “They don’t vote, so why should we worry about what they want? Their leaders can take up their battles”.
This is one of the reasons I advocate for our people to vote! I can guarantee you will get their attention if Aboriginal Canada influences the outcome of dozens of federal and provincial ridings.