By Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Jordan’s Principle settlement claims process should have more structure to it with some sort of Indigenous-led oversight committeethat will ensure those who qualify for settlement money are supported in their future endeavours, Kahnawake’s grand chief said earlier this week.
The settlement, which has been returned to the drawing board by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for expansion to more classes of plaintiff, would theoretically see each claimant get a lump sum of about $40,000, and the settlement was on the agenda at last week’s Assembly of First Nations special chiefs meeting in Ottawa.
“Sure, they’re going to get $40,000 each, but that’s not that much money, and obviously, there would be some concerns about kids who have not gotten much guidance from parental figures over the years in terms of financial responsibility,” said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer. “I think that some sort of oversight body or some sort of clearing house would possibly be a way to make sure these kids _ now adults _ are supported going forward. Canada’s responsibility doesn’t end with a cheque being cut.”
Sky-Deer said the conference got off to a bit of a stilted start in the wake of AFN’s last gathering, in July in Vancouver.
AFN’s executive committee had temporarily suspended National Chief RoseAnne Archibald amid accusations of workplace bullying and harassment, until First Nations leaders at the Vancouver assembly voted to reinstate her at that time.
“There was a little bit of a hangover on the first day from the July meeting, but we got down to business and I think we’ll be able to move forward,” Sky-Deer said. “We got moving pretty fast.”
Sky-Deer said AFN meetings help her to realize what a good position Kahnawake is in, given the horror stories she hears about housing crises in other First Nations communities.
“I know we have a housing shortage in Kahnawake, but it’s just that: a shortage,” she said. “In other communities we’re hearing some real horror stories about a housing crisis. You have 20 people living in one small house with one washroom and that sort of thing.”
The Grand Chief said because Kahnawake’s political and social-support systems are so entrenched, it enables the community to come to the aid, of less-organized communities who aren’t as well off.
“We’re very lucky here in Kahnawake,” she said. “There’s opportunity for people here. People who want to leave to go elsewhere have the means to do so. We have so much to share in terms of best practises that the real benefit of going to these meetings is to extend a hand to our brothers and sisters in other communities and help them, whether it’s with knowledge, experience or information.”
Marc Lalonde is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THUNDER BAY SOURCE. The LJI is a federally funded program.