Friday, December 2, 2011

Benevolent assistance and hostile take-over — are they really the same thing?

A question posed by the CBC regarding the financial troubles of the Attawapiskat First Nation:

Do you agree with the federal government's move to put Attawapiskat under third-party management? Why or why not?

My Answer:

No, I do not agree and, of course I'm gonna tell you why!

I'm pretty sure that if you picked any group of people and gave them a huge amount of money (say $90million) to manage without assistance you would get essentially the same result. This could be any Canadian village, a church organization, a service club, a large, charitable ngo or any group you could pick . . . . unless the group had a good percentage of members who were accustomed to manage immense amounts of money or . . . . the giver of the money made a condition that the group accept training and assistance with money management for a period after receipt. This is nothing like taking the authority away from the receivers but puts a responsibility on both parties for good stewardship.

Governments of the type we are stuck with at the moment see their primary purpose as making themselves redundant by cutting the size of public service and cutting out services, programs, inspection, oversight, and anything else that adds to the common good of those they are governing. If they were to second one or two 'redundant' accountants to a First Nation such as Attawapiskat for a pre-agreed to term, the expertise could be transferred and handed down for generations to come.

Unless I'm missing something, this would seen prudent and, if done with some sensitivity, should be gladly accepted by those receiving the money. It would also be considerably more efficient than having the money poorly managed and accounted for and then spending millions more on investigations and reports to answer the question. "Where did the money go?"

Nobody can reasonably be expected to pick up the skills necessary to manage millions of dollars with no assistance. It usually doesn't work for lottery winners, professional athletes, movie stars or inheritors of large fortunes so why would it work for a group of people who have mostly lived a remote and rural lifestyle and whose inter-generational knowledge of European ways is largely based on the dysfunctional Residential School system.

At this point, the take-over of the Attawapiskat people's affairs will tend to ensure the extension of that dysfunctionality for at least another generation. Perhaps, by that time, we will be looking to the First Nations people to assist us in learning skills that will allow us to survive in a post-oil world. I expect they will treat us better than we treated them.

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA

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