Inspired by Betty Londergan's What Gives 365 and the Bible (not necessarily in that order!), I'm giving away $250 a week in 2011.

This is where I'm recording that journey, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Khoorie Heritage Trust, messily

I continue to be so fascinated by how things come together, and by what this giving journey is teaching me.

This week's entry is a hard one to write, and once again, it's all about timing. This week, Attawapiskat has been very much in the news, with its abysmal housing, poor drinking water and struggling residents, and the federal government's decision to assume third party management of its finances. I admit that when I heard the Chief being interviewed, I was pretty frustrated, but a bit embarrassed at feeling that way. Roughly ninety million dollars of taxpayers' money has been poured into that community over the past five years, to support a community of about 5,000 people, and she had the gall to be angry that the government is stepping in? The left-leaning sociologist in me knows very well the legacy of colonialism and shame and generation addictions etc. etc. that has contributed to this very complicated problem, but at what point do people need to be accountable for the resources entrusted to them?

This very same week, I've been conscious to mark World AIDS Day. For me this year, it's been marred by frustration at the gutting of the Global Fund due to national governments' unwillingness to live up to their financial commitments in the face of global economic meltdown. Such ironic timing. Yet at the same time, I found myself surrounded by friends and neighbours who are passionately choosing to act -- to give, to pray, to protest -- and I'm witnessing God at work in the midst of it all. It occurred to me that in many developing countries ravaged by HIV/AIDS, if external money is given, much of it unfortunatley gets siphoned off to benefit the very wealthy. Interesting that in Canada "developing world," waste seems to be more of a problem than padding individual coffers. Both can have devastating consequences.

Also this week, I received a message from my friend Lawrence. He's been on my mind this week because he and his kids are performing in a play that I'd love to see, but can't -- so I'm sending two of my kids in my place. Lawrence is just back from Australia. He drew my attention to an organization called Khoorie Heritage Trust -- an organization seeking to "bridge the cultural gap" between Aboriginal people and others living in southeastern Australia -- a country with a history of relations with its Aboriginal people not unlike our own.

It's international week here at Just Giving It, so this timing seemed too right. I admit it's an uncomfortable choice for me this week. This seems like a creative and dynamic organization doing much-needed work, and I trust Lawrence's judgement. Yet I feel conflicted about giving to international Aboriginal support without giving to that same cause here at home, about whether I would choose to give here at home in that way, and about whether this week's donation should be going to AIDS programming instead (even though we've highlighted Bracelet of Hope in the past, which is what I have on my heart this week).

So there it is. Never sure if I've made the right choice, but knowing it's not a wrong one, and trying to watch carefully how the various threads are being knit together in my thought and life.

Thanks for joining me on the journey. May Advent bring new birth in and around you.


  1. I've already received some feedback that I've blown it this week. That very well may be true. It's tempting to hit 'edit', but instead, let's continue the conversation here. First, let me be clear that I mean no disrespect to the Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation. Second, I recognize that 90 million dollars doesn't go very far in paying for all of the infrastructure and service costs for an entire northern community. Third, I have no idea whether money has actually been used well or poorly in this case. I meant to communicate my own internal conflict around Aboriginal issues. I feel outraged and frustrated and confused and tired by them. Am I the only one who want to hit the Reset button here? I'm not so naive to think that our present can be disconnected from our history, but at some point I hope that Aboriginal people, individually and collectively will (continue to) decide not to let the oppression of their past be the defining feature of their future. We all need to do that. In the meantime, by this week's donation I wanted to indicate my support for those who are graciously working to build understanding between Aboriginal communities and others. I need that. So, at the risk of digging myself into a deeper hole...

  2. Actually, I didn't need that clarification. I understood where your internal conflict was on this. I also understand the desire for a reset button in terms of the conflicts between aboriginal and newer Canadians. I hope that doesn't paralyze any of us into inaction.