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Spurious comments

Dear editor:

I take great exception to several of Shaun Loney’s statements regarding his book, “An Army of Problem Solvers: Reconciliation and the Solutions Economy,” because they are either very questionable, wrong, and even offensive.

Mr. Loney, in his mission to do his part regarding the so-called (I think it’s nonsense) reconciliation between aboriginals and other Canadians, says he is a problem solver, establishing social enterprises on aboriginal communities to improve their economies.

But he has problems doing that since, according to him, the federal government is preventing aboriginals from participating in the economy.

Furthermore, he stated: “When you get these folks together, every single one problem solver says the government makes it very difficult for us.”

He gets more specific by claiming: “But there’s no supports at all for First Nations’ ventures that are growing healthy food and raising healthy food.”

Wow, not even one! Obviously, this is a very egregious situation. Has he thought of APTN Investigates to look into it?

In fact, for example, the Garden Hill aboriginal community, located in northern Manitoba, has a purported farm (a garden and a chicken coop isn’t a farm), which Mr. Loney was involved in establishing, that received government funding for its start-up.

In his own YouTube video words: “The provincial government stepped up with $300,000.”

Locally, the Naicatchewenin community received $15,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2009 to establish a community garden to improve residents’ access to affordable and nutritious food.

These are only two of many projects governments have funded aboriginal communities to improve their food security.

Mr. Loney also stated: “On many First Nations, the government subsidizes the local monopoly retailers that sells virtually no healthy food.” He was more specific when interviewed on the Nov. 29 CBC radio program, “The Current,” when he said, referring to the Garden Hill Northern store, it has 95 percent unhealthy food.

Absurd statements, of course.

Mr. Loney complains that at Couchiching, “. . . there was a highway, railway, and transmission lines put through there without proper consultation or agreement.” I have no idea if this is true or not. But if it’s true, let’s put this situation into context.

Treaty #3 states sections of reserves can be appropriated for public works, buildings, or for whatever purpose by the federal government. Compensation has to be provided for the value of any improvements made previously for these purposes.

It’s only a few years ago the Supreme Court ruled the Crown has a duty to consult and accommodate aboriginal people when their treaty rights are affected.

So perhaps Couchiching residents aren’t quite the victims Mr. Loney portrays they are.

Mr. Loney lectures Canadians other than aboriginals to understand they are privileged people and flagellates himself for being a privileged white person. But most so-called privileged people have earned this status he deplores—by getting well-educated and working hard at their jobs, often making many sacrifices along the way.

He also references the “privileged” people who live in the Rainy River region, but forgetting it was the early settlers’ courage, industriousness, ingenuity, and going through many hardships who provided the foundation for these people to live comfortable lives today.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Mr. Loney it’s the privileged people he scorns who pay for several of his social enterprises he develops through taxes they pay. This allows him to be a privileged person, have redemption for being one, and ego trip what a great problem solver he is.

So maybe he should be more respectful and appreciative towards them.

Mr. Loney, it appears, has done some very good work being a social entrepreneur, especially for aboriginal communities. But it’s unnecessary for him to make many spurious comments promoting it.

(Signed),

Paul G. Olsen

Rainy River, Ont.

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