Friday, July 25, 2008

Free health care not a native treaty right

Canadian courts have consistently ruled that free health care was not guaranteed to signatories of Treaty Six. However, Treaty Six nations across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba recently convened at the Thunderchild Reserve in Saskatchewan to propose a health system autonomous from the federal government. Thunderchild band spokesman Eldon Okanee features in this excerpt from the article.

Despite the presence of Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) senator Sol Sanderson and vice-chief Guy Lonechild, who holds the health portfolio, many of the dignitaries at the gathering were critical of the First Nations political bodies.

The FSIN and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) are not signatories to any treaty and as such, "they do not speak for us. Nobody speaks for us," said Okanee.

"The AFN does not represent First Nations as well as it should," echoed Chief Rose Labouchane of the Driftpile First Nation in northern Alberta....

Treaty Six was created in 1876 and has 50 First Nation signatories, including two bands from Manitoba, 17 from Alberta and 31 from Saskatchewan, totalling about 30,000 people.

One of the selling points for the original signatories was the promise of a vaguely-termed medicine chest. Rather than referring to a first aid kit with some gauze and bandages, First Nations contend the intent of the term is full health-care coverage.

In 1935, a federal court judge agreed, ruling the definition of the medicine chest clause should be interpreted as meaning that "all medicines, drugs, or medical supplies which might be required by the Indians ... were to be supplied to them free of charge." But that has been contested by Ottawa and the provinces, and argued in the courts ever since.

In 1971, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled "the terms of Treaty No. 6 do not impose upon the Government of Canada the obligation of providing, without cost, medical and hospital services to all Indians." That ruling stemmed from a $72 matter in 1966, in which a First Nation man accused of unlawfully failing to pay the Saskatchewan Hospitalization Act Tax ($48) and the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act premium ($24). He was acquitted in a trial in 1969 but the Court of Appeal overturned that decision two years later.


Greg said...

It was actually one of my Mooshums who as a young man who could read and write english and remembered the reference to the Medicine Chest clause spoken and agreed upon by both parties. As with most dealings with people even to this very day how Canada as a state deals with other countries and modern day Treaties and negotiations promises are made to the benifit of all with the exception of first Nations(Note lower case F) His Grandfather who was the signatory to the Treaty lowered and raised the flag each day in allegiance. He as a leader strived that his community do all that it could to become participants in the new emerging Nation of what is now called,"Canada!" His and the communities reward was to have their community partitioned into what is now 5 seperate First Nations, with the reserve bearing his name only one tiny part of it now. As a direct descendant of that same man whose name was Mistawasis, and an actual status card holder, my children are exactly 7 Generations from him and a prophecy, it is my hope that they will never have to go to the government or the band office for anything. They know the ceremonies already, and have their traditional names and will speak 3 maybe even 4 different languages, they wont access or exercise the so-called rights that their relatives receive, however they will know who they are and where they come from freely. Remember the rights to housing education, and health care are dispursed and syphoned through many sieves before it even leaves Ottawa, and the level to which those are accorded monetarily will be the level to which they will aspire to in life. There is little if any that actually reaches First Nation people or constituents. Most of it goes to pan-aboriginal brown breurocrats, the Aboriginal elite! These being the 1 out of 10000 Aboriginal people who are "Made" not uncommnly referred to as the "Moccasin Mafia!" You can witness them at any government announcement that will involve dollars being spent on anything Aboriginal. No my children will look to the service people who are frontline working at women shelters, the educators in the classrooms and at the ceremonies as role models, life is great fro them thankful to the many men and woman who chose to preserve the true identity of giving not taking. Right now Aboriginal people do not go into a tribal council or band office cause they are saying,"hey we got too much money we better give some to the Chief and Council!" Rather it is to try and get something for their families, so in effect they are on the take, the Chief and Council and it's employees are payed for by the Federal government so in effect they are on the take. It is a great learning for anyone Aboriginal or not to go to a ceremony and be gifted and share food, with this, we are still here as such, and will be here long after there is no rights funded from Ottawa, as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow.

Lee Harding said...

I sincerely thank you for sharing this.

Greg said...

I believe the true fight for Canada's Indigenous People will be when regular tax paying, voting hard working informed Canadians say,"Our First Nations People an Communities Deserve Better!" The the revolt or stand will not be against the Aboriginals, or the lack of accountability of the current fiscal relationship, rather it will be a forensic review for change, line by line review even by a body of the United Nations and/or World Bank. This would have be done internally inside the Canadian Government, as right now there are 33 Federal Departmental entities accessing the Aboriginal disbursement from treasury, like foreign affairs? As Canadians hearing on the news or from various media sources the ignorance to where these allocations really go is perpetuated, some agreements like the James Bay Agreement(Treaty) have 50 year gag orders on them. Have you ever heard of Ouje-Bougoumou? It was the only community in Canada that was designed by and for Aboriginal people, it uses bio-energy waste to heat the whole community, won international and U.N. awards as the community of the future, last year it had %100 per-cent employment(the only place in Canada Native or Not) they import workers form all over to come in for Eco-Tourism. There is a media ban on this community, The department of Indian Affairs refers to this as the community that got away, only one minister has ever visited this place.é-Bougoumou,_Quebec

I believe our greatest asset will be the non-Aboriginal Canadian that gets enlightened to what is happening and says enough is enough. What a revolt, maybe organize a national speaking tour with the Universities, of like minded people, perhaps get a writer like Naomi Klein(Shock Doctrine) to consider a new book on how Aboriginal people have been made into a bureaucratic resource or commodified, given a number since birth and as the most researched studied people and species of life for that matter on the planet produces the effect of, "Disaster Capitalism!" Truth be told Health Care is a right given or gifted upon us as two legged beings from birth, no-one can give us what we already have, if they do in a way it has been stripped from you, I have heard of people both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal dying, as they waited for the Government to pay for their medicare rather than pay for it themselves, they thought or believed they had rights. If that is dying for the cause, I choose to live and pay taxes. I send a thank you for listening it is a great respect shown.


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