By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Aboriginal organizations have faced $60 million worth of cuts from the Harper government over the past three years and Inuit groups were hit the hardest, according to an internal Assembly of First Nations analysis obtained by APTN National News.
The analysis, which is based on federal Aboriginal Affairs department figures as of Jan. 7 of this year, found Inuit organizations faced a cut of 71 per cent between 2012 and 2015. First Nations organizations absorbed 65.5 per cent worth of cuts over the same time span. Metis organizations saw cuts of 39 per cent, non-status Indian organizations 14 per cent and women’s organizations were hit with a 7 per cent cut, the analysis found.
Overall, Aboriginal organizations across the country have lost about $60 million dollars in core and project funding, signifying a 59 per cent reduction between 2012 and 2015, according to the analysis.
First Nations organizations, in particular, saw their overall funding, including core and project based funding, drop from $68.8 million in 2012-2013 to $23.8 million in 2014-2015, which amounts to an about 65 per cent cut.
First Nation organizations in Ontario have seen the biggest overall cut to funding. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Ontario First Nation organizations received a little over $20 million in project and core funding. In the 2014-2015 year, the five Ontario organizations saw that total reduced to about $5 million, which amounts to a 76 per cent cut, according to the analysis.
According to the analysis, two organizations in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have been hit by an 80 per cent cut, in Saskatchewan, the sole regional organization, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, has faced a 91 per cent cut, while in Manitoba, three regional First Nation organizations, Southern Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimankanak and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, have been hit with a 78 per cent funding cut between 2012 and 2015.
In British Columbia, three First Nations organizations there, the B.C. First Nation Summit, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC AFN have faced a 73 per cent cut. The summit has taken the biggest hit with an 82 per cent reduction.
Tribal Councils, which are different than regional organizations and represent smaller groups of First nation communities, have also seen their core funding drop from about $49 million in 2011-2012 to $29.8 million between 2011-2012 to 2014-2015, which represents an about 40 per cent funding cut.
The cuts, which are starting to bite now, were initially announced by former Aboriginal affairs minister John Duncan in 2012. At the time he said Ottawa would be changing the “funding model” for Aboriginal organizations and tribal council, shifting to a focus on areas that matched the department’s priorities.