By Martha Troian, April 15, 2014. Source: VICE
As the Canadian government slashes the budgets of Indigenous organizations across the nation, many are struggling to stay afloat. Increasingly, Indigenous organizations are accepting lifelines from a controversial source—namely oil & gas or resource extraction companies—sparking a debate over whether taking the badly needed money is ‘building relationships’ or ‘selling out.’
“We’re trying to rebuild our credibility,” says Hayden King, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance (CIG) at Ryerson University, an organization dedicated to advancing issues of Indigenous governance. The Centre launched in 2010, with financial help from Hydro One, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and Vale Inco, a mining company. “The Indigenous community at Ryerson didn’t know this money had been accepted to launch the Centre,” says King.
Although it was the university who accepted these funds, the Indigenous community withdrew their support, effectively shuttering the Centre for about a year in 2011. King came on board after the Centre reopened, but he’s still dealing with the backlash today.”We’re trying to atone for that but maybe there’s no atoning for it,” he says.
Another group under scrutiny is Indspire (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation), a national charity that’s helped tens of thousands of Indigenous people attain higher education. Indspire also produces an awards show that honours the achievements of Indigenous peoples. Much of the money has come from Big Oil. Continue reading