When the Federal Court ruled that 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status Indians in Canada are "Indians" under the Constitution Act, an automatic fiscal responsibility on the Federal Government to support 600,000 additional people is not what this decision means, at least for now. With the possibility of at least two more appeals to go, it will likely be years before changes, if any, will be made.
However, one cannot help to think: where will the money come from? The reality is that our government does not have the funds to support the desired programs and resources as it is. So likely, this could mean an increase in taxes, a re-allocation of funding, or going further into debt. These options are far from ideal and likely will not result in a long term or sustainable improvement in the quality of life for First Nations people.
As best-selling author Brian Tracy says, if you want to find out how to achieve success, find a person who is successful and do what they do. Just as Canada should be looking to examples like Switzerland and the Netherlands in terms of reforming our heath care system, we can look to Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band. He has exemplified successful fiscal management that is viable, prosperous, and sustainable.
The Band is known for its superior work ethic, independence and entrepreneurial attitude. Amongst other achievements, this has led to a world class winery (Nk'Mip Cellars) and Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa. And the future is bright for this band, who now working on a major housing development in the Nk'Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course. As Chief Louie says “[w]e don't need more social spending. We need more economic development spending."
In order to reach the best possible outcome for all parties, it is imperative that we all focus our attention on going forward instead of fighting ancient battles. We can all agree that life is not fair. What happened to the First Nations people of this country is not fair, however there is always choice. While our government works to resolve these issues with the First Nations people, we can all take life into our own hands, make a future and take advantage of the many great opportunities this country has to offer.
Jennifer Tassone, Peachland