Friday, February 8, 2013

FIRST NATION BENEFITS: FICTION AND NON-FICTION

Another quick post to inform the debate and discuss the issue of First Nation benefits.

Just what are the benefits of being declared a member of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation?

If you listen to the uninformed, one might be excused for thinking that status means that individuals do not have to pay Income Tax, GST or PST. Some say members of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq and their children have a right to free educations and vehicles.

These “perceived” rights are the nexus of concerns articulated by talk show hosts, public commentators and detractors of those entitled to Indian status in Newfoundland.

From what I understand,from my past association with native groups in Bay St. George going back to the late 1980’s was that the Mi’kmaq population was determined to gain recognition under the Indian Act.

They argued for decades that they should have gained that status when Newfoundland became a province in the Canadian Federation in 1949.

This status offered the same health, education, economic development benefits as other off reservation First Nation’s people across the country.

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation agreement does not provide for an automatic tax exemption on goods. It  is not a part of the agreement.

A “free” education is not an automatic right either. First Nations are given a pot of money for is education, training and entrepreneurial opportunities in the public and private sectors. It is not a bottomless pit.

The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation must be accountable and transparent with it’s expenditures. There are applications, minimum requirements and a vetting process. All of which is predicated on the core funding made available to the First Nation. Simply receiving your status is far from a guarantee of educational funding.

Another fallacy is related to the provision of Cadillac universal health plan for members. Another fallacy. Many services like vision and dental care are not covvered100%. Some services are not covered at all

There is no special status for hunting and fishing either.

My point is that the so called “free ride” that many people of First Nation ancestry are supposedly taking advantage is not what critics have portrayed.

Many people have just become aware of their aboriginal heritage. Many of these people, like my father and grand-father have continued to fish, trap, hunt and work in the woods like their aboriginal forefathers did. 

Certainly the technology has changed as has the compensation. Instead of bartering there is a cash economy.

How can these people's legitimate pre-confederation Mi’kmaq First Nation ancestry be denied?

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