By Kent Driscoll
APTN National News
Holding a hunger strike in sight of Parliament Hill would set Chief Theresa Spence up for criticism. Indeed, in the last few days, criticism against the Attawapiskat Chief has multiplied. Also multiplied, the degree of inaccuracy of the allegations leveled at her.
On the Sun News Network website, there is a graphic called “Attawapiskat Exposed” listing many allegations about Chief Spence.
Sun News states: “Between the government and the money pouring in from the nearby diamond mine, it works out to $250,000 each family for each year. Tax free. That’s like $400,000 for the rest of us.”
Fact: APTN National News has found most of the money from the diamond mine is locked up in a trust to provide for future generations, and the biggest payment was received when the mine opened. As for the “tax-free” argument, Chelsey Vowell takes a long look at it over here, and things aren’t that simple.
Sun News: “Attawapiskat First nation owns $9 million in stocks from Apple, Disney and Chinese cell phone companies.”
Fact: Attawapiskat’s trust from diamond revenue has 100’s of stocks , not just the brand names they mention. This is standard practice for First Nations and Inuit communities that receive resource revenue. You can only take those rocks out of the ground once, but a trust keeps on providing long This is responsible, good management, and if it wasn’t happening, people would be complaining even more.
SunNews: “The government says that Attawapiskat has received $90 million dollars since 2006.”
Fact: John Geddes at MacLean’s took on this number very effectively. Less than 5 per cent of that $90 million was designated to be spent on homes, and Geddes says the real number is closer to $4 million for houses since 2006. Federal spending in Attawapiskat in 2010-11 was $15.9 million, $6.6 million of that was for education alone.
Sun News: “$450,000 a month pours into Attawapiskat a month in welfare payments.”
Fact: This figure is misleading . In 2010-11 – according to Ontario Works – 443 households received $3.9 million in welfare, at a rate of $755 a month. That is $334,465 a month, not $450,000. When you live in a very remote community, $755 a month isn’t going to buy very much.
Sun News: “Attawapiskat has 21 full-time politicians for 300 homes”
Fact: Attawapiskat has a chief, a deputy chief, and 12 councilors. Only the chief would be considered full time. Critics are counting every individual who sat on council that year, but many of the councilors only served short terms. If you add up the man hours, the months served, it works out to 12 councilors.
Sun News: “Chief Theresa Spence’s boyfriend, Clayton Kennedy, earns $850 a day, income tax free.” Sun News also went on air claiming Chief Spence and Kennedy made $250,000 a year.
Fact: Kennedy is contracted to work 3 weeks out of four, 5 days a week. $850 x 5 days x 3 weeks x 12 months = $153,000 a year. If you count 4 weeks a month (which his contract doesn’t) you only get $204,000.
Sun News is getting most of their information from www.attawaspiskat.org
We looked at the numbers and they don’t match up to the facts. Why? You’ll have to ask them.