A headline about a B.C. chief’s speech in Manitoba has caught the eye of MLA Doug Bing, who posted it on his Facebook page.
“Get a damn job: Chief offers blunt remedy for what ails First Nations,” reads the headline from The Reminder, in Flin Flon, Man.
The story in the paper referred to a recent speech in Flin Flon by Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie, who tells young men on his reserve to, “Get a damn job, be a man. It should be embarrassing for you to raise your kids on welfare.”
The article, by Jonathon Naylor, continues quoting Louie: “Looking to succeed in the workplace? Be punctual. Be on time. Indian time doesn’t cut it.”
Bing, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, thought the piece was thought provoking and put it on his personal Facebook page.
“In this age of political correctness, only a respected aboriginal leader such as B.C.’s Clarence Louie can speak so bluntly to other aboriginals,” Bing wrote.
“I was struck at how blunt he was,” Bing said later.
“It really resonates. This is the one way to get out of poverty – is to get a job and get some kind of income coming in.”
Bing added that if he’d said what Louie did, he’d been in trouble. But, “For him to say that has more meaning.
“I think it’s probably a broad-based message that would apply across the country,” Bing added.
He knows the issues facing First Nations aren’t as simple as getting a job. But as treaties are signed and bands become more independent “what can we do to generate jobs and economic growth for our people.”
While Bing may be criticized for the Facebook post, he didn’t intend it to be belittling or negative.
“It just seemed it was an interesting post. I heard this fellow before and he makes a lot of sense.”
The move to equality is a gradual process.
“The only way we’re going to get anything done is to work together,” Bing said.
Reaction to the Facebook post has been quiet, with just two comments in favour.
Katzie First Nation Chief Susan Miller hadn’t seen the post and didn’t know the context, but she agreed with the sentiments.
“This is a message that applies across the country.”
It’s important that aboriginal people start to become part of the solution, she said.
“I definitely wouldn’t respond in a negative way to any of that without knowing the context. I have a quite a bit of respect for our MLA.”
Miller said that certain political leaders, usually male, can get away with such statements.
“They have come from the school of hard knocks. They know what they’re talking about.”
It’s a good statement to help aboriginal people move from beneath the Indian Act, she added.
The Indian Act says bands or aboriginals have to ask permission to do anything first.
“It’s not about independent thinking.”
And that will take some time, she added.