“The situation on the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario has escalated to a boiling point” – Senator Meredith

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Senator MeredithOTTAWA – Leader’s Ledger – Senator Hon. Don Meredith was appointed to the Senate on December 18th, 2010. Senator Meredith sits as a Conservative in the Upper House. Here is his Senators Statement from December 8th 2011:

Honourable senators, the situation on the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario has escalated to a boiling point where there is a large schism among the government, national chiefs and local band leaders. It is high time that we look at a more effective approach to solving this crisis.

Having grown up in an at-risk community and having worked with a number of youth and leaders in at-risk communities in Toronto, I can say that the current approach will not be effective in improving living conditions in Attawapiskat. In my experience, the way to tackle these kinds of issues is for government and community leaders to get on the same page for the benefit of the people they serve. We must make an attempt to see the situation from the other perspective.

When violence erupted in Toronto in 2002, I felt compelled to seek those who would be part of the solution, rather than pouring fuel on an already bad situation.

It is time to begin the necessary change to the lives of our First Nations people. It is in all of us to do what we can to stop the finger-pointing blame game and the unnecessary animosity, and let us find solutions together.

The First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo was correct in saying: “We must stop lurching from crisis to crisis and move forward on a path to smash the status quo and fundamentally transform the current relationship between the First Nations and the Crown”.

The Scriptures tell us — and this is something I am quite familiar with — to love our neighbour as ourselves. Where is the love in all of this confusion? As we hold our children and grandchildren this Christmas, I want us to think about the children across the country who are suffering while we enjoy our lives. Families will be hungry, cold, starving and thirsty, while we enjoy the luxuries that have been granted to us.

While leaders on both sides find fault with each other, there are families, especially children, whose well-being weighs in the balance. Under these unfortunate circumstances, I believe this is not the time to find fault with each other; it is time to come together as Canadians and parliamentarians. It is time to ask ourselves what we can do to bring relief to the children and families of this community.

All over the world we are in a season of giving, peace and joy. It is not a time for band-aid solutions and political squabbling. The people of Attawapiskat are just as deserving of a merry Christmas as the rest of us.

As we enter the holiday season, please join me, honourable senators, in asking what we can do to put an end to finger-pointing and to find a speedy solution to the crisis for the sake of the families and children of Attawapiskat.

Senator Don Meredith

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