http://www.thestar.com/News/article/294018 (Backup copy below)
I CITE THIS BECAUSE OF the StatsCan statement in the G&M article “Two face jail time” : “Mr. Morrison called the response to the census a “resounding success,” especially on Canada’s native reserves.”
A repeated theme of my work over the years has been that Government use of “spin doctors” or “communications specialists” also contributes to the undermining of our system of governance. We learn to mistrust what the Government says, because too many times we see through the spin. It is as though we are thought to be stupid.
In the G&M article Census branch director-general Peter Morrison is quoted: “Mr. Morrison called the response to the census a “resounding success,” especially on Canada’s native reserves.”
The response to the Census was a disaster that caused large cost overruns as the Government sought to get compliance. The part of the statement related to First Nations, of and by itself MIGHT be true. But in the context of the court cases it is very misleading.
First Nations’ compliance is a separate issue. It was being handled by StatsCan, Jan.2008: “Statistics Canada seeks co-operative approach as compliance climbs“.
“Charges won’t be pursued against natives on reserves because their compliance rates used to be considerably worse, says Anil Arora, director general of the census program branch at Statistics Canada.”
… oh. What we see here is that the Census branch director-general has changed? in January 2008 when the “35,000 natives” article was written, Anil Arora was the director general. In the July article “Two face jail“, Peter Morrison is the director-general.
Published On Tue Jan 15 2008
No charges sought for 35,000 natives who ignore census
By the numbers Native census participation rates
1986: 952 reserves, 136 incomplete
1991: 1,123 reserves, 78 incomplete
2001: 1,080 reserves, 30 incomplete
2006: 1,123 reserves, 22 incomplete
Statistics Canada seeks co-operative approach as compliance climbs
Jan 15, 2008 04:30 AM
Thousands of natives across Canada refused to complete the 2006 census – including the Six Nations in Ontario – and will not face any legal consequences, despite the fact that 64 people not living on reserves were charged under the Statistics Act.
Charges won’t be pursued against natives on reserves because their compliance rates used to be considerably worse, says Anil Arora, director general of the census program branch at Statistics Canada.
“One has to pick a path. One has to pick a road and you pick a road that is obviously yielding success. Twenty years of experience has shown us that working with the community is the best,” Arora said.
The maximum penalty for not completing the census is a $500 fine and three months in prison. Of the 64 charged, nearly all decided to complete it rather than go to court.
Some 35,000 people living on reserves refused to complete the census, Arora said. As a courtesy, Statistics Canada seeks permission from the band office before entering the reserve, although it isn’t legally obligated to do so.
The census isn’t mailed out to reserves, because many still use a P.O. box system, which means census takers can’t verify addresses, Arora said.
In 1986, there were 952 reserves in Canada. Of those, about 136 reserves refused to complete the questionnaires. As a result, an aboriginal liaison committee was established, which employed and trained native people to conduct the surveys.
By comparison, there are 1,123 reserves across Canada today, with 22 refusing to complete the census.
However, said Arora, more and more reserves are modernizing so that in the future Statistics Canada may be able to mail the census form directly to people on the reserves.
Six Nations, outside Brantford, is one of the largest reserves that refused to participate in 2006.
Chief William Montour hopes to change the reserve’s attitude. Montour first served as chief between 1985 and 1991. After working in the government more than a decade, he was re-elected in December.
He used to agree with the majority of his constituents the census wasn’t something native people should be forced to complete. For one, Canadian reserves are bombarded by government pollsters, he said. People don’t understand the use of the census. And, most important, a deep distrust of the federal government remains.
“I used to think this way. I’ve since changed my mind,” said Montour. “We’ve got to convince the community that we’ve got to have these kinds of numbers. More and more it gives us the ability to argue for more programs and services.”
Natives on reserves have to answer the long questionnaire – which normally only one in five Canadians get – because “that information is in demand,” said Arora.
Six Nations claims a population of about 22,800 natives. There could be hundreds more non-status natives, perhaps with aboriginal relatives, living on the reserve.
At the Alderville First Nation community, outside Cobourg, a notice went out in the community newsletter that census takers, many from within the native community, would be stopping by.
“If people wanted to do it they could,” said Chief James Marsden. “I think it’s good myself. For resources and funding, it’s good to have the proper count for Ontario.”
But it’s a tough sell to some, he said. “It’s probably the same as voting,” he said. “A lot of bands won’t vote in federal or provincial elections. `We have our own jurisdiction. We’re our own nation.'”