by Janet Pothier, Health Advisor, CMM

Prime Minster Stephen Harper ended the June 11 2008 apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools with the following statement about the Truth and Reconciliation process, “The Commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all Canadians on the Indian Residential Schools system. It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other, and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for us all.” No where in the apology does the Prime Minister make a connection between the social ‘problems’ as a legacy of the Residential School and the health of Aboriginal people in Canada today. This was short sighted on the Governments part and is a clear demonstration of how western ways of understanding health are woefully inadequate to meet the health and social needs of Aboriginal people.

The March 29, 2012 federal budget outlined in broad strokes the areas and departments that were expected to reduce spending to support the governments’ commitment to balancing the federal budget. Health Canada was asked to cut First Nations and Inuit Health Branch budget by $15 million over the next three years. Much of the media coverage focused on the predicted cuts to personnel in the public service and ...

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