Hot! First Nations: The Long Shadow of Assimilation – publications/commentary – Hennessy’s Index: A number is never just a number
January 3, 2013.    by Trish Hennessy, National Office

Hennessy’s Index is a monthly listing of numbers, written by the CCPA’s Trish Hennessy, about Canada and its place in the world. For other months, visit:

  • 150,000
    Number of Aboriginal children who were taken from their families and forced into residential schools as part of Canada’s assimilation policy from the 1870s onward. In 2008, the government apologized to Aboriginal peoples “for failing them so profoundly.” (Source 12)

  • 70 cents
    Amount Aboriginal peoples earned for every dollar non-Aboriginals earned in 2006. At this rate, the income gap between Aboriginal peoples and the rest of Canadians won’t disappear for another 63 years, unless Canada adopts a new approach. (Source)

  • 1 in 4
    Number of children within First Nations families who live in poverty in Canada, much higher than the 1 in 10 children in non-Aboriginal families who live in poverty. (Source)

  • 444
    Number of recommendations to improve the lives of Canada’s First Nations people within the landmark Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report, now 16 years old.  (Source 12)

  • $7.5 billion
    Estimated annual cost of doing nothing to resolve First Nations employment and social problems in Canada (in 1996 alone). (Source)

  • 5-7
    Number of Aboriginal youth suicides for every non-Aboriginal Canadian youth. Suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, 11 times the national average.  (Source)

  • 600
    Number of unresolved cases of missing and/or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. (Source)

  • 120
    Number of Aboriginal communities with a drinking water advisory, as of October 31, 2011. Of the more than 500,000 First Nations people who live on Canada’s reserves, thousands live without indoor plumbing.  (Source)

  • Nearly half
    Number of houses on Canadian reserves in need of major repair. The federal auditor general says Aboriginal housing is subject to overcrowding and requires more federal funding to keep up with the growing Aboriginal population. (Source 12)

  • $169-$189 million
    Estimated federal government underfunding of capital expenditures on reserves annually. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) says 40 new schools, at a cost of $12.5 million each, and 85,000 housing units would have to be built to meet current needs. (Source)

  • C-45
    The federal omnibus bill that sparked a movement in Canada called Idle No More, which points to eight legislative bills that violate treaties. Amnesty International says changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Act, and the proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act have profound implications for the rights of Indigenous peoples as set out in treaties, affirmed in the constitution, and protected by international human rights standards. (Source 123)

  • 35.1
    Section of Canada’s constitution that commits the Prime Minister and First Ministers to meet with Aboriginal peoples before changing federal responsibilities that affect First Nations. (Source)

  • December 11, 2012The day Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike began. She says she is willing to die for her people “because the suffering is too much”. Her request: a commitment by the Prime Minister to meet with Canada’s First Nations chiefs. (Source)

  • 24,815
    Number of tweets attributed to the #IdleNoMore Twitter hashtag on December 23, 2013 alone. The movement has not only gone viral, support has spread beyond the Canadian border in a phenomenon considered “too big to track”. (Source 12)

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