The irony of it all! At around 2.am Wednesday morning, more than 150 Ottawa Police officers pounced on eight Occupy Ottawa protesters peacefully resisting eviction from Confederation Park, where they’d camped for five weeks shining a light on growing economic disparities in Canada. In the meantime, the residents of Attawapiskat First Nations have been living in tents and “Third World” conditions for years.
Families reportedly live in crammed in makeshift tents without heat, indoor plumbing and electricity. This Huffington Post story carries photos of children inflicted with facial rash from lack of clean water and proper sanitation.
The community’s leader, Chief Theresa Spence, recently declared a state of emergency over these deplorable conditions. She told the Ottawa Citizen that her people’s cries for help from both the Ontario provincial government and Ottawa had “fallen on deaf ears”.
NDP MPs Charlie Angus, who has described the community’s conditions as “fourth world”, talks of a “lack of movement from both levels of government”.
The Red Cross has had to start a “disaster relief program” for the community and is asking for donations to purchase bedding, heaters, winter clothing generators and clean water.
Is this Canada? Where is the compassion? Where is the responsibility to protect our downtrodden and disadvantaged? Last time I checked, housing was a human right. And the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms obligated Canada to treat the Attawapiskat and other First Nations communities across Canada humanely.
For Occupy Ottawa, the tents are gone from Confederation Park. But the campaign against rampant corporate greed, and the irresponsible politics that enable it, has only begun.
(Originally published on www.occupy-ottawa.org)