First Nations people, especially those living on reserve, view the federal budget much differently from non-Natives. For us, it’s like a federal budget and the equivalent of a provincial budget put together. This is a consequence of the division of powers that sees the federal government delivering many provincial services on reserves, such as health care.
Because of the unique and outsized role Ottawa has in the lives of First Nations people, we look for action and attention on every issue, such as one would expect from a provincial budget. For example, no one could imagine a Quebec provincial budget that failed to mention health care one year or economic growth the next.
In this context, the omission of First Nations child welfare from this budget is enough to sour the whole document. First Nations child welfare advocate Cindy Blackstock expressed this disappointment in her comments to the CBC after the budget was released: “[There is] nothing in there despite three legal orders for the government to comply and make sure that this generation of First Nations children isn’t unnecessarily removed from their families because of Canada’s inequitable funding [. . .] I think it’s a sad day for the nation.”