Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrating Aboriginal Culture & Remembering We Still Have A Long Way To Go

It's National Aboriginal Day today: a day to celebrate the varied cultures of the First Nations, Inuit & Metis people of Canada. If you're in East Vancouver (Coast Salish Territories), head over to Trout Lake for entertainment, an arts & crafts market, teepee village, pow wow, dancing & a fun run/walk at 2pm. You can also find a list of community celebrations all over British Columbia here on the Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada website.

National Aboriginal Day is also a day to remember that we still have a long way to go, particularly among our most vulnerable: children. Indigenous children trail the rest of Canada's children on practically every measure of well being: family income, educational attainment, crowding & homelessness, poor water quality, infant mortality, health & suicide.

The following infographic illustrates the shocking depth of that poverty: in BC, home of the highest overall child poverty rate in the country, 39% of aboriginal children live in poverty.

These are shameful statistics in a country as wealthy as Canada.

To throw a few more numbers at you:

$7.5 billion is how much it would cost to bring all children in Canada up to the poverty line. $1 billion would be required for Indigenous children alone, of which $580 million would be required to lift status First Nations children to the poverty line. This is a whole lot cheaper than, say, buying, running & maintaining a handful of F-35 fighter jets.

$115 billion is the projected cumulative economic benefit to Canada (over 20 years) from equivalent educational attainment & labour market outcomes for Indigenous people, according to a study by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

If you're interested in reading more, the report can be found here on the Save the Children website. The executive summary is here. & for more on Save the Children & their work with Indigenous children, please check out the No Child Born without a Chance campaign hub, here.

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