Chief of the Rosnau River Anishinabe First Nation Terry Nelson has never been a guy to mince words, once referring to non-natives as immigrants and saying that there’s only one way to deal with the white man: “You either pick up a gun or stand between him and his money.”

Not to say that he isn’t a good negotiator since he has just received an 80 million dollar settlement regarding a land claim. He handed out $5000.00 cheques to 1500 adult band members. For children, the money is held in trust until they turn eighteen and then they get the lump sum, no questions asked. I’m sure he’s a popular guy for doing that and I guess it’s a good good way to keep on getting elected! But why not make the kids earn it by finishing high school? Maybe hold out a carrot like post secondary scholarships if they do and start to work on some real social change rather than just continuing with the same old handout system which encourages dependency.

The other issue here is what happens to the balance of 61.6 million? It goes into an endowment fund apparently, but since there are no democratic controls on how this money is managed, what is to stop it from disappearing into the pockets of individuals such as Chief Nelson, his relatives and cronies.

If the Canadian governent wants to move forward with changes to the Indian Act and allow for aboriginal self governance, it must insist that all aboriginal leaders are elected according to the Elections Canada rules just like other Canadians. Transparent accounting systems must be established and audited so that this new found wealth is not squandered by certain privileged individuals for their own benefit. Otherwise nothing will change and twenty years from now aboriginal communities in Canada will be in the same sorry state they are today which isn’t fair for anyone, natives or Canadian taxpayers alike.