We were told the recent federal budget intended to ensure that First Nations “become full and contributing members to the Canadian economy” with just under $600 million going towards education and water infrastructure. As many have already said, it isn’t likely to make a substantial difference, but in a time when 19,000 federal employees will be getting pink slips and 7 billion in other cutbacks happening government wide, it is a decision which is at least going in the right direction.
I don’t have to tell you that many First Nation communities are infamously impoverished and a focus on improving education has shown again and again that:
This is an incredibly powerful and important focus that should not be understated. Proof of this statement is abundant. A study done by the US Census (2002)looked at the earnings of those with different levels of scholastic achievement over a lifetime. On average:
- High school diplomas are worth $1.2 million
- Bachelor degrees are worth$ 2.1 million
- Masters are worth $2.5 million
- Doctorates are worth $3.4 million
- Professional degrees are worth $4.4 million
While I don’t think that these dollar amount necessarily apply directly to people in First Nation Communities, I think the principles that underlie these findings could be transferrable. Which is: higher paying jobs tend to go to those with more education. It might also be argued that more innovation and successful business is an ancillary benefit.
More than ever it seems, communities are being faced with “watershed type” decisions, decisions that will define our futures and will most likely be irrevocable. Whether it is to allow or conduct a particular type of resource extraction, embark on a path of self government, settle land claims or conclude a treaty. Critical thought and informed decision making is becoming ever more crucial.
Peruvian Economist Hernando De Soto’s Private Property Ideas Gain a Foothold
Last week the government also announced as a part of the federal budget, that they intend to explore legislation with First Nations that would turn reserve lands into fee simple lands. While I haven’t been able to find any evidence that this has resulted in anything other than the displacement of poor landholders and increased tax revenues for governments elsewhere, it is my sincere hope that communities are able to consider verifiable facts rather than the unfounded claims, inaccurate analysis, hype and propaganda that has surrounded FNPOA from the beginning.
Some feel as though Canada is beginning to resemble Peru. I am starting to wonder...