Archive for March, 2011

Are we dumb or what?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Studies rarely surprise anyone. Recent studies reveal that there are a lot of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). One would have to be living under a rock to not know that. Anyone who works with children has seen it, seen it in the schools across the province. FASD knows no boundaries of race or background, it just happens when a woman drinks too much while she is pregnant. It’s not fresh news, it’s just rampantly out there in our society. Experienced kids’ workers swear they can spot it in the facial, physical features of a child.
The studies are in, the evidence has been piling up for decades, but now what do we do about it? The Winnipeg Free Press is running extensive stories on FASD and it appears there may be some remedies but there are no simple solutions for those who are affected.
There is however a very simple solution for the future. It’s called don’t drink when you are pregnant. There’s a very simple solution for a lot of things; it’s called don’t drink, ever. Apparently, in addition to a large percentage of First Nations mothers, there is a high percentage among young professional women who binge drink before they know they are pregnant.
Nice!
Young, professional and binge drinking. Isn’t there some kind of irony in that statement. Young should mean smart, right? Professional should mean smart, right? Binge drinking should mean dumb, right? There’s a lot of FASD happening, largely among First Nations people, but certainly not exclusively. Apparently dumbness knows no racial boundaries.
FASD is often blamed on poverty. So might a lot of other ailments, so why do we have no real desire or any real clue how to solve the problems in our First Nations and other poorer communities. Poverty isn’t exclusive to FN communities. “Poorness” is also pocketed into rural and remote communities and in parts of our more urban centres.
Governments have largely ignored the problem. They can get elected by garnering votes from the rich and the middle class. Who needs those poor people anyway? Mathematically the politicians are correct. They don’t need the poor peoples’ votes, they hardly count so why bother with them. Mathematically correct, but morally wrong.
It’s because of this political math that’s there’s few health care facilities in many communities. That’s why there are few or poor education facilities. That’s why there’s little or no infrastructure. That’s why food is an atrocious price in remote communities. Political mathematics is why we pretend to serve our communities with winter roads and expensive air freight.
Put quite bluntly, Manitoba sucks at looking after the needs of our people.
Some small and remote communities need to be shut down. Before anybody screams genocide or some other equally stupid charge, people move away all the time and settle in other communities, in other countries even. Shutting down some of the remote communities may make sense.
The remaining communities need to be properly serviced. If we are going to have places like the Island Lakes region which reportedly has 10,000 people, then it has to be serviced. The current set up of winter roads and air freight has to be replaced with a system of roads.
Some people opposed southern roads, the building of telephone and hydro lines but they got built through political will. Political will has to be based on need, on viability, on practicality but, most of all, it has to be built on what is morally right.
There is no way that Manitobans can reap God’s blessing that is hovering over us, but never really touching down on our land, when we have so many among us that are poor, disenfranchised and desolate.
Our whole approach to First Nations and remote communities has to change and it has to change fast. We could all be a lot richer and blessed if we faced the fact that many people, many communities are being left far behind. The question is, will leadership rise up that will embrace the needed changes in an economically viable manner? That’s the question. It will take a major change in thinking at all levels of government to put Manitoba on track.


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247