Most First Nations Children On Reserves Live In Poverty

This isn’t surprising but it is very, very, bad:

The study released late Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada found that the poverty rate of status First Nations children living on reserves was triple that of non-indigenous children.

In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 62 and 64 per cent of status First Nations children were living below the poverty line, compared with 15 and 16 per cent among non-indigenous children in the provinces.

Poverty rates among status First Nations children are consistently higher across the country.

Co-author Daniel Wilson cautions that for many of them, “the depth of the poverty … is actually greater than the numbers themselves tell you.”

“Imagine any typical First Nations child living on a reserve,” said Wilson, a former diplomat and policy consultant on indigenous issues. “They’re waking up in an overcrowded home that may have asbestos, probably has mould, is likely in need of major repair, that does not have drinking water and they have no school to go to.”

The study is based on the 2006 census, the most recent data to provide a detailed portrait of poverty among all Canadians, at least until more of the 2011 census is released. The annual survey of labour and income dynamics typically used to assess poverty rates excludes those living on reserves.

You can read the CCPA report here. The CBC story goes on to report that conditions are much worse for First Nations people who are under federal jurisdiction — which reminded me of this 2006 political decision:

The Harper government is scrapping the five-year, $5.1-billion Kelowna accord to improve the lives of aboriginals, while coming up with its own two-year plan — at less than one-quarter of the cost. The Conservative plan appears to be worth about $225 million a year in new expenditures, as opposed to $1 billion a year in new spending under the Kelowna accord.

More on that here. The Conservatives should not have ignored the Kelowna Accord, which was supported by First Nations leaders, the other federal parties and the premiers (including my hero, Ralph Klein). More than any other federal leader, Stephen Harper’s politics lead him to ignore problems and the consequence is that children are hurt. And that’s something we all pay for.


A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS The coronavirus pandemic is a moment of reckoning for our community. We’re all hurting. It’s no different at Prairie Dog, where COVID-19 has wiped out advertisements for events, businesses and restaurants as Regina and Saskatchewan hunker down in quarantine. As an ad-supported newspaper already struggling in a destabilized media landscape, this is devastating. We’re hoping you, our loyal readers, can help fill in the gap so Prairie Dog can not only continue to exist but even expand our coverage — both in print and online. Please consider donating, either one-time or, even better, on a monthly basis.

We believe Prairie Dog's unique voice is needed, now more than ever. For 27 years, this newspaper has been a critical part of Regina’s social, cultural and democratic infrastructure. Don’t let us fade away. There’s only one Prairie Dog. If it’s destroyed, it’s never coming back.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting this was all a terrible, terrible mistake.