A devastating fire on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan Indian Reservation caused the death of two toddlers early on the morning of Tuesday February 17th.
I just posted a bit about the finances that you should probably read up on. That post's all about the dollars and cents.
This is all about the dullards and sense.
Specifically, about the greater political and social implications of the nonsense going around by the #IdleNoMore defenders when they try to attack the Village of Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department for not providing a free service to a much larger community down the road that (as I did note in that post you really need to read) has money to burn (no pun intended) on literally everything else you can imagine.
Firefighting is a service that is provided in Loon Lake by the municipal government. Over in Makwa Sahgaiehcan, the "municipal government" (nobody ever refers to it as such, even though it clearly is) doesn't bother. Yet oddly, they seem to have a lot of fires.
Between March and May 2014, the Loon Lake fire department attended calls to the First Nation for brush and structure fires. By September, Lehoux said the village hadn't received its fees, despite calls and notes to the First Nation.How many fires does a community of 923 people have to fight, anyways? I asked Leduc County on Twitter about the village of Thorsby (population 951), which doesn't even have a fire department but rather a station for the larger Leduc County Fire Department. The firefighters from that station have roughly a call a week, though usually larger fires and/or false alarms from elsewhere in Leduc County.
Over in Makwa, Chief Ben (of the $100,000 salary) is outraged.
However, Chief Richard Ben of Makwa Sahgaiehcan said the First Nation always pays the fire department after the call is finished.He's "put thousands of dollars" into the department. Loon Lake used to charge them $5,000 a year plus a per-attendance surcharge. Then they agreed to go from a subscription model to a "pay as you go" model, which I assume meant a higher per-event charge and wait don't you guys have a lot of fires in your community of lazy bums who don't seem to produce anything but decay? Again, this is the same level of decrepit culture where burnt cars dotting the landscape are a common sight, where houses with plastic on the windows decay in one of the least humid climates on earth as a brand new pickup truck and snowmobile sits in the front lawn smashed beyond all recognition. They get money from the band, they get money from the government, but just like the overpaid band council that wouldn't dream of becoming a volunteer firefighter, the rest of the populace doesn't earn any money and doesn't produce anything of value, so they don't hold anything of value.
"It was more or less they come, and we pay them and that was it," he said.
"I'm pissed off because we've always paid them," Ben said. "They can't say we haven't put thousands of dollars into that department. And they've always showed up at every incident. We're just pissed off."
Not even the lives of toddlers.
As mentioned in the "money post", Richard Ben obviously doesn't care about the safety and security of people who live on the reserves: otherwise he'd be willing to forego his salary in order to pay the bill for fire services. But there's somebody else who apparently doesn't care about the safety and security of the two toddlers who died. And unlike you or me or the Mayor of Loon Lake or even Chief Ben, he won't be referring to them as "the two toddlers" but rather referring to them by name.
RCMP said officers were dispatched around 1:30 a.m. CST Tuesday to the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, where they found a home engulfed in flames.Did the father care about the welfare of those two little kids? It's not easy to say, mainly because we aren't getting much information as to grandma's condition. It's possible that this is just the sort of terrible tragedy that can happen anywhere: you don't ask "will the house spontaneously catch fire?" when deciding if an elderly relative is suitable as a babysitter. However, we've seen far too many negligent fathers on reserves to discount the probability willy-nilly.
They said a man, who had gone to the home and found it was on fire, came out carrying two small children.
According to RCMP, the man was the father of the two-year-old boy and one-year-old girl. Both children died at the scene.
RCMP said the children's grandmother was also in the home, but no other injuries have been reported due.
But though nobody on Makwa Sahgaiehcan seems to be cool about fire safety there are certainly more than enough online Concern Trolls to make up for it. A 27 year old man was arrested for threatening the volunteer force over at Loon Lake, and Twitter is awash with people who can't believe that fire services were revoked over a $3400 bill. They never do answer, of course, how many free fires Loon Lake is supposed to put out over at Makwa Reserve before they finally cut off services? Ten? Twenty? Ten thousand? What happens when the level of fire care that's supposed to be paternally provided for free reaches the point that the Village of Loon Lake can no longer receive enough money from its tax base to keep it running? Chief Heon addressed this:
"I spent 23 years in the military to protect people in this country," he said. "And now to have this thrown back at me that we just let people die in my own country is very saddening to me."
"We have a very small department. How do you operate?" he said. "How do I protect the rest of the community if I burn everything, my resources, and not get paid for it?"That things cost money is sometimes a hard concept to get across to the liberals so worked up that innocent kids died over a $3400 bill.
It's apparently impossible to get across to the Indians over at Makwa Sahgaiehcan.
Lehoux said she sent the reserve another letter in January stating that its fire services had been cut off. But Makwa Sahgaiehcan Chief Richard Ben said he wasn’t aware of that. He also said that his community has not been a priority for the volunteer fire department.I'm sure every once and a while somebody in Loon Lake has had a dilapidated home that requires a little renovation to make it a little less likely to go up like a tinderbox. Then again, when it's your home and you own and cherish and care for it, maybe you decide that putting a couple fire extinguishers by the door and getting the flammables out of the laundry room is worth more than a youth centre and a fire truck only good for parades and hot boxing. But despite all this talk from Indians that this country is "their land" they show absolutely no pride in it, and no interest in building it up.
“It just makes us go back and rethink, why aren’t we put up in the same level as everybody else?” he said.
The federal government says it allotted $34,000 per year to Makwa Sahgaiehcan to operate and maintain a fire hall and fire truck on the reserve. But the fire hall was converted to a youth centre and the fire truck is only operational in the summer.
Ben said the money is not enough to train firefighters and operate the necessary services. He said most of the funds have been spent on fireproofing dilapidated homes.
Loon Lake has a volunteer fire department and their mayor mans up to be the fire chief. Chief Ben throws money away on his salary then turns the fire hall into a youth centre. Whether or not a youth centre is of any value to the community (it probably isn't, but let's play along) is irrelevant: the Canadian taxpayer provided money for firefighting. Why isn't this a priority? If Chief Ben and his overpaid cronies over at Makwa Sahgaiehcan aren't interested in spending tax money where the givers of said tax money wish it to be spent, then why are we even giving the money out?
Going back to Chief Dances-With-Buffet, Atawapiskat famously failed a tax audit (I wrote a bit about it at the end of this post). Makwa Sahgaiehcan did not, though all that means is that the auditor didn't find any slush funds or hidden monies being squirreled away by the band council. It doesn't preclude the money being spent poorly, though again when it comes to Indian Reservations the money is spent poorly because generations of paternalist welfare has created a pathetic infant-child race, unable to understand the value of money and understanding how it's a way to obtain resources to be levered for a benefit. On the rich oil-funded reserves in Alberta, an Indian turns 18 and gets a cheque for more money than many Albertans pull down in a year. That money is wasted on a trivial things and is gone before you know it. The firetruck only works in the summer? Is that because the Indians have already cabbaged it for parts? Is it missing a heater, perhaps, since somebody's old F-350 needed it? Is it, as I asked in the money post, off being used as a hotbox somewhere? Or straws in the fuel tank?
But to obsess over how better to spend the money is almost to miss the point. We just need to stop giving these Indians the money in the first place: this isn't a Makwa Sahgaiehcan problem, that's only the most recent flare-up. Enoch Reserve did this exact same "don't pay for fire services" gag once to the City of Edmonton. Atawapiskat is mismanaged so the buildings are falling apart while the Chief's fuck-buddy gets to cash a paycheque and pretend he's the CFO for a Fortune 500 company. Davis Inlet had so many kids sniffing gas they moved them to a new town so they could sniff gas in cool new surroundings. Hobemma changed its name to remove the "stigma" that was causing gang violence that left little kids in its wake and the stigma-free town saw a youth murder within hours. Enoch in Edmonton is so incompetent they couldn't run a casino that receives 566% more revenue than the white casino down the road (while they get a smoking bylaw exemption). A Saskatchewan Indian gets so drunk he lets his kids freeze to death. There will be another heartbreaking story tomorrow and the day after and the day after.
Bad things happen, they make white voters feel guilty so they give more money, but money begets even more bad things and the cycle -- no, the death spiral -- continues ad infinitum. We don't have to do this anymore. So long as failures are our failures and successes (well, there aren't any but fingers crossed!) aren't our successes, we need to pick up our football and not play anymore. Maybe if we do that, the bill for fire services will actually get paid. Maybe if we do that, the 900-plus residents of Makwa Sahgaiehcan might get enough civic pride together to form their own volunteer fire department, at which point they may ask why Loon Lake down the road pays so much less in property taxes and their mayor earns 1/42nd the per capita amount. Maybe when their houses need "fire suppression" they'll just pull up their sleeves and install some fire suppression.
We can't spend the money better. If the people in charge could spend money well, they wouldn't need the money.
And they probably still don't need a youth centre.