January 11, 2013

Idle No More satires

Stephen Harper finally caves to pressure from animal spirit guide

By Aaron Hagey-MackayPrime Minister Stephen Harper finally agreed to meet with an assembly of Aboriginal leaders on January 11th, after bowing to pressure from his animal spirit guide, Odjiig.

“It is after careful consideration between myself, advisors, and Odjiig, the earthly, yet ethereal messenger-being, that I have decided to meet on January 11th with various chiefs of the First Nations of Canada to begin a dialogue,” said the Prime Minister in a statement released last week.

Odjiig, the weasel spirit, who shares Harper’s strength, cunning and singularity of purpose, had kept a vigil outside the Prime Minister’s residence as an omen of warning to repair relations with the First Peoples of Canada.

“He first noticed me as he was coming home from a celebration of the new year,” said the wise and powerful messenger weasel.
First Nations audit of Federal Government reveals billions in mismanaged fundsThe Canadian Government has been mismanaging funds for over 140 years according to a damaging audit commissioned by the First Nations released this morning.

The audit, conducted by a private auditing firm, says the Canadian Government had difficulty maintaining satisfactory records, and cited numerous examples of questionable spending practices dating as far back as 1867, and ranging from money spent on school pencil sharpeners, WWI, the auto industry, prisons, unnecessary F-35 fighter jets, and, most recently, the high price tag for hiring Deloitte and Touche to audit First Nations spending practices.

According to a portion of the audit, “the practice of diverting funds to corporations and individuals” without properly accounting for them is a practice that “has plagued all branches of government across the country since its existence, from former and current city mayors, to MPs, to the very first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, who accepted bribes in return for federal investments.”

Even worse, the audit continued, “many top paid politicians are known to show up for work only half the time, yet there is no system in place to correct for this type of wasteful spending.”
Stereotypes are no joke

These two pieces are Onion-style satires, but the joking continued in the "real world." It puts these satires, especially the second one, into context.

#Ottiwapiskat takes on stereotypes

By Mia RabsonThe stereotypes of First Nations Canadians which flood newspaper website comment sections, Twitter, my email inbox every time I write a story about First Nations, and very likely, dinner conversations across this country, are rampant.

The stereotypes are also ridiculous: all chiefs are crooks living high on the hog while their people suffer, First Nations people are all lazy and would rather live in poverty on welfare than get an education and a job, etc.

While nobody can dispute there are some bad apples among chiefs, there are also some great ones. And there are lots of bad apples among non-aboriginal leaders as well. How many Canadian mayors are facing charges in this country right now, as just one example. Or how many cabinet ministers from various governments have been slapped on the wrist for ridiculous expense claims or hotel stays (yes, I'm looking at you Bev Oda and Peter MacKay.) These stereotypes and comments are not helpful to the conversation and serve only to further the chasm between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

Well, aboriginal artist Aaron Paquette had had enough, and over the weekend started a Twitter hashtag that seems to have caught fire.

He started with a simple tweet Saturday night:

"So much corruption in Ottawa-piskat. We need more transparency and accountability."

Which a few minutes later led to the creation of the hashtag, #ottawapiskat.

"Can we get #Ottawapiskat going? As in, Parliament sure is wasteful in #Ottawapiskat ;) just some good natured satire," Paquette tweeted.
And then a little later he used it again.

"Why does the leader live in a mansion while members of the community are homeless?" he wrote, with the hastags #ottawapiskat and #idlenomore.

And so it began. The hashtag has been trending off and on in Canada over the last day.

The idea, clearly, is to show that the same accusations made against chiefs and band councils can just as easily be made against the federal government. The new hashtag #ottawapiskat is a play on Ottawa and Attawapiskat, the latter being the northern Ontario reserve led by Chief Theresa Spence, who is refusing solid food in a bid to get change from the federal government.

An audit released last week which showed her band couldn't account for more than 80 per cent of financial transactions between 2005 and 2011, caused a furor, with many non-aboriginals seeing it as proof all chiefs are crooks, and many natives seeing red at an attempt by the federal government to smear a chief.
Comment:  I presume "Ottawa" and "Attawa" (as in Attawapiskat) have the same origin, so there's a linguistic connection too.

For more on Idle No More, see Idle No More = Occupy and Harper to Meet with Chiefs.

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