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Harper slashes Aboriginal health agencies

By: 
Valerie Lannon

May 6, 2012

“Residential schools effectively separated aboriginal children from the influence of everything that could sustain, perpetuate and define them. When you cut funding for the National Aboriginal Health Organization and the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s health program and ended the mandate of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, you did the same thing” – Richard Wagamese, in an open letter to Stephen Harper, publicized in The Globe&Mail.

Tory cuts include the health organizations named by Richard Wagamese, as well as the Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association, and the health budgets of Inuit Women of Canada and the Metis Nation of Canada. They also include other Aboriginal agencies that support policy and planning related to the well-being of indigenous people, such as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the First Nations Governance Institute and the First Nations Statistical Institute. The Assembly of First Nations and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami were cut by 40 per cent. Most of these cuts mean that these agencies will no longer exist.

These cuts are particularly resented in light of Harper’s apology for the residential schools and his appointment of Leona Aglukkaq, an Inuit woman from Nunavut, to head up Health Canada.

When the outcomes for indigenous people continue to lag far behind those of other Canadians, these attacks could not be more disastrous. Because the affected agencies advocate for improvement in the lives of indigenous people, they stand in the way of Harper’s agenda. One more reason to fight austerity.

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