Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement

Advocates speak out against the cutting of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation

Seven AHF programs cut in Atlantic Canada

by Jane Kirby

A Montreal rally protesting the cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), which funded over 130 programs for survivors of residential schools across the country. Photo: Ben Powless
A Montreal rally protesting the cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), which funded over 130 programs for survivors of residential schools across the country. Photo: Ben Powless
Campaigns have been initiated across the country to protest the cuts, including a sit-in by six non-native women in Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl's office on March 29.  Photo: Miori Lacerte
Campaigns have been initiated across the country to protest the cuts, including a sit-in by six non-native women in Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl's office on March 29. Photo: Miori Lacerte

“Residential school survivors and their descendents respond more positively to traditionally-based healing services than conventional methods” says Tarry Hewitt, Project Coordinator at Aboriginal Survivors for Healers on Prince Edward Island.

But it is precisely these services that are at risk with recent federal budget cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), which funded over 130 programs for survivors of residential schools across the country.

Coming just one year after the Canadian government's apology to survivors of the residential school system, these cuts came as a great surprise to many of those who were involved in AHF-funded programs. Funded programs included community and grassroots projects like suicide prevention programs, youth groups, traditional healing services, men's groups and women's shelters. Seven AHF-funded programs existed in Atlantic Canada. Many of these services, including Aboriginal Survivors for Healing on Prince Edward Island, may be forced to close their doors as a result of these cuts.

“The residential school system was in operation for decades, and the effects are not going to be addressed in ten or fifteen years”, says Hewitt. The legacy of residential schools includes the splitting of families, physical and sexual abuse and cultural genocide, and the effects of the schools continue to plague indigenous communities. The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996.

Although the AHF funding will be reallocated to survivor's programs provided by Health Canada, advocates of the AHF insist that Health Canada cannot provide the kind of community-driven  and  traditional healing services that made the AHF so successful.

Campaigns have been initiated across the country to protest the cuts, including a sit-in by six non-native women in Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl's office on March 29. One day later an emergency debate took place in Parliament to discuss the cuts, but so far the funding has not been restored.

Maya Rolbin-Ghanie, a member of Missing Justice in Montreal and a participant in the sit in, says the cuts to the AHF are indicative of the Canadian government's broader attitude to indigenous people

“It is important to draw the links between the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, missing and murdered native women, poverty on native reserves and the countless land struggles that native communities engage in”, says Ghanie “We need to take note of our government's policies, and hold them accountable”.

Both Rolbin-Ghanie and Hewitt encourage concerned community members to take action by contacting MP Chuch Strahl's office to oppose the cuts.

Listen to an interview with Rolbin-Ghanie and Hewitt on CKDU.


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Indigenous
410 words

Comments

Indigenous Healing - Stop The Blame

Stop blaming the government for the pitfalls of our society! We are all responsible! We don't need money to heal one another with love and understanding. What we need to do is take time out of our daily lives and spend time with those we care about, with or without money and so called foundations and organizations. The fact that we constantly and naively rely on our systems of government that clearly do not work is really quite ridiculous!

Indigenous Healing

For people who don't understand the damage done by residential schools and what it takes to heal should really not say anything at all...that just shows ignorance and perpetuates systemic racism.

In Reply

In fact I grew up in Northwestern Ontario near quite a few Indigenous communities and I was close to many people with family members who went through residential schools. From hearing stories first hand I have a fairly good picture of what happened in residential schools. I am sure it takes a lot to heal those affected and I am more than compassionate towards supportive forms of healing, yet I personally don't believe that relying on our government is the best way to go. Hence why I also believe that Indigenous peoples should be free to fully govern themselves. What are the alternatives? Community support and private funding, fund raisers, community awareness programs run by volunteers... I am sure there are many other alternatives if we as a community open our hearts and minds. I am free to express my opinions Carolyn, as are you :o)

reply

I respect your beliefs and views on Indigenous peoples. However, there is a reconciliation issue between the government and First Nations Peoples. The government has a fiduciary responsibility that they keep neglecting to fulfill which sometimes stands in the way of healing. This is a complex issue that not many non-indigenous people can relate which makes it hard to understand. I hope the residential schools survivors get what they need in order to heal and move on in a healthy way...Carolyn

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!