In a 2016 interview, CBC journalist Peter Mansbridge confronted children’s advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock with this statement regarding public funding for Indigenous programs:
“Billions of dollars have been spent in trying to come to grips with the situation that so many Indigenous Canadians face. And of those billions, it’s on the record that some of them, a lot of them, have been misspent, not just by non-Indigenous groups, but by Indigenous groups.”
In response, Blackstock did not argue with Mansbridge, but noted that the Auditor General of Canada had looked into this and found that the misappropriation of funds was not significantly different than it is in the non-Aboriginal community. She then pointed out that this stereotype has been weaponized against Aboriginal people resulting in funds being held back, money that should be used to help children overcome the challenges they are facing.
Blackstock’s point is quite valid, and much more needs to be said with regard to corruption, not only in Canada, but throughout the industrialized world.
The truth is our democracies are rife with corruption, and this is nothing new. We allow those who have the most to gain by unjust policies to make our laws.
Even today our laws allow the wealthy to profit from our most vulnerable citizens. We have, in essence, legalized loan sharks who give money to those who struggle with poverty and addictions and then charge exorbitant interest rates and unreasonable fees. Isn’t it ironic that we question funding social programs that will help these people, while we pass laws which allow unscrupulous businesses to exploit them?
No one will argue that Indigenous groups do not need to be held accountable for the use of public funds. The more important point is that in reality, our efforts to focus on corruption in the Indigenous community while allowing obscene amounts of funds to flow into the pockets of wealthy individuals is arguably the very definition of systemic racism.
We are passing laws that establish unjust tax structures and reward unscrupulous business practices while holding money back from children who need better schools and social programs.