Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague because she has seen the conditions in these communities.
I find the discussion in the House sometimes absurd when I hear people ask how we can make innovation happen on first nations reserves and how will they be able to start buying property.
Two first nation communities in my area do not even have schools. Not only are there no schools, but there is no plan for any schools. They are just not considered a priority. Attawapiskat has no school. Kashechewan has no school. Neighbouring Fort Severn has no school. Communities negotiate and meet with the government and fill out reports and do studies and do further studies when requested by Indian affairs bureaucrats. They go through all these hoops just so their kids can be in a safe environment. At the end of the day at the absolute arbitrary whim of the Indian affairs minister, a plan for a school could be cancelled. How can this be done in a country like Canada?
There is no standard for education in our first nations communities, not even an obligation to meet basic standards. Provincial jurisdictions have standards for education. They have to meet certain basic obligations in terms of special education, funding and class size. One minister can support a plan for a school and the next minister can come along and decide there is no need to build schools for young native kids and spend the money on something else. That is appalling.
What is more appalling is that the communities have absolutely no voice. They are not asked. They are not part of any consultation about how moneys should be spent. They do everything they can to play by the rules laid out by the government of the day and by the Indian Act, and yet at the whim of a particular Indian affairs minister the kids will be helped, or the money will be sent back to Treasury Board, or something completely different will be done.
There is a sense of hopelessness in the communities. They just want to get to first base. They actually want to get out of fourth world conditions and into third world conditions and some day get into second world conditions. This is the debate we need to be having in Parliament as opposed to discussions on how we can start moving toward an innovation agenda within these communities.