First Nations communities struggling with persistent Third World conditions should begin seeing some help from Ottawa this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.
Speaking in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Trudeau defended his Liberal government’s approach to what many aboriginal leaders say is an unmitigated crisis.
“We actually are flowing money this year,” Trudeau said. “We are working very closely with (First Nations) on urgent needs and we’re investing in a significant way in respectful partnership.”
First Nations leaders say they like the tone of the government — particularly in contrast with its predecessor.
At the same time, they say they want quick action and firm commitments that go beyond promises and good intentions.
“What we need the prime minister to do — and he’s certainly making positive steps toward this — is he needs to look at this as a major crisis in Canada,” regional Chief Isadore Day told The Canadian Press.
“A hundred First Nations or more in Canada are living in Third World conditions — he has to make this a priority in terms of a crisis.”
Trudeau noted his government committed $8.4 billion for First Nations infrastructure, education, health and other areas in the March budget.
Yet he offered few immediate answers to the problems many aboriginals face, including a lack of basic health care and housing, unsafe tap water and grinding poverty.