Montreal

Aboriginal Affairs' $1B spending shortfall hits Quebec association hard

The director of the Quebec Native Women's Association says she's not completely surprised by the news that the federal government did not spend $1 billion of its budget for aboriginal affairs in Canada.

Quebec Native Women's Association, which lost $175K in federal funding in 2015, reels from $1B shortfall

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The director of the Quebec Native Women's Association says she's not completely surprised by the news that the federal government did not spend $1 billion of its budget for aboriginal affairs in Canada.

The Quebec Native Women's Association recently lost $175,000 in federal funding, which has jeopardized its ability to continue offering services to aboriginal people within the province.

Meanwhile, CBC News reported earlier this week that documents show Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada — the department responsible for delivering programs for Canada's indigenous people — has held back more than $1 billion in promised spending for social services over the last five years.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair stands and applauds as commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair announces there should be an inquiry into missing and murdered women at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt (left) did not stand. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec Native Women's Association, which has been helping aboriginal people in their communities and in urban centres for the past 40 years, lost its $175,000 in federal funding after its dossier was transferred from Heritage Canada to Aboriginal Affairs.

Viviane Michel, the director of the association, said that after funding was transferred from Heritage Canada to the federal Aboriginal Affairs office, the group was told it was not an "aboriginal-representative organization."

Michel said the lost funding covered projects that allowed the organization to go into Quebec's native communities and work directly with people there. It also helped to fund a project on promoting non-violence.

She said the association did recently get $80,000 in federal funding for two specific projects related to housing and to governance.

But that barely makes up for the money lost, and it's not even a drop in the bucket of the $1 billion left unspent by the federal government, Michel said.

Meanwhile, she continued, education, health and other social services and programs for First Nations and other indigenous communities across Canada are consistently underfunded. 

"I think if the government was collaborative, we would have been able to get back the funding we lost," Michel said.

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