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On his last day in Parliament as prime minister in 1984, Pierre Trudeau said: “I do not think the purpose of a government is to right the past. It cannot rewrite history. It is our purpose to be just in our time.” It’s clear almost four decades later that we have not been just in our time to Indigenous Canadians. We know because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will spend $24.5 billion on Indigenous programs this year — 87% higher than historical norms — and we still can’t provide clean water to every Indigenous reserve in Canada. How is that possible? More broadly, how is it possible that billions upon billions of tax dollars spent on Indigenous issues by federal, provincial and territorial governments, over many decades, have not improved the lives of Indigenous Canadians? Not only on reserves, but for the majority — about 56% — who now live in cities. How is it possible rates of unemployment, poverty, incarceration, sickness and drug and alcohol addiction remain stubbornly high, compared to other Canadians? Some people argue mismanagement and corruption by some Indigenous leaders is responsible.

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