The more things change... Archives May 1998

According to Canada's most recent statistics, the mean income of Aboriginal people ages 15 and above was just $14,700, or 61 per cent of the non-Aboriginal average.

Aboriginal unemployment was 24.6 per cent, as compared to a Canadian average of about 10 per cent. The unemployment gap continues to broaden over time.

Aboriginal people 15 years of age and over continue to have much lower levels of schooling than the non-Aboriginal populations, regardless of age group. More than one-half (54 per cent) of the Aboriginal population 15 and over had not received a high school diploma, compared with 35 per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.

Beginning in late November 1997, and continuing into early February, 63 Quesnel area children were taken from their families and placed in the care of social services. As many as 23 of those children were Aboriginal.

An Aboriginal woman and her eight-year-old son residing at the Tsuu T'ina First Nation near Calgary were shot dead by RCMP who were assisting a social worker who was trying to take the woman's children.

The woman armed herself with a rifle, fired at authorities, and one constable fired back. The bullet went through the woman, killing the son who was standing behind her. People close to the slain woman said a family member should have been called in to intercede.

It will be late summer before the Supreme Court of Canada decides if goods purchased off reserve but intended for consumption on reserve are subject to provincial sales tax.

The federal government, in a move that law professors all over the country say is a violation of its fiduciary obligation to protect Aboriginal rights, argued that such purchases should be subject to taxation, despite the provisions of Section 87 of the Indian Act. Should the court decide the purchases are taxable, some Aboriginal leaders are contemplating asking the court to rehear the case because the issue of the federal government's fiduciary obligation was not raised during the appeal.

Many say political considerations lead the government to ignore its legal obligation.