But if he is jaundiced by his experience in the north, he is equally scathing about the political posturing happening in Parliament. "I would vote NDP but some of the stuff [NDP MP] Charlie Angus is saying, it's dreamer stuff - 'just get the government to pay more and the problems go away.' There's no reality to that. It goes so much deeper than that."
This is what the supporter told Ivison what he experienced while he was a teacher up there:
He said the social problems on reserves are compounded by abysmal leadership. For example, every spring, hunters on his reserve would be ferried to hunting camp by helicopter - using money that could have been spent on housing or education.These people should not be living in such deplorable conditions but throwing more money at it is not going to solve the situation. As that NDP supporter stated it's more than just money, the problem is deeper than that. First of all accountability has to come including, the band leadership. Where is our money going? We need to follow that money.
"Native leadership is really bad. There is apathy and no worldview. No one sees a solution. It's pretty depressing. I don't see any possible way for the problems to be fixed - they're too far gone."
He said native communities like Attawapiskat and neigh-bouring Kashechewan should be moved south, as the federal government recommended when Kashechewan was hit by an E. coli outbreak in 2005. "They need to be closer to civilization to see how dysfunctional things are," he said.
In the event, the people of Kashechewan decided to rebuild their community in its existing location, with $200million from Ottawa. "That was driven by fear. People were afraid of the outside world. They don't do well down south, so home is their safety net, it's what they're comfortable with."
The determination to stay in such isolated locations has led to a cycle of poverty, violence, alcoholism and illiteracy.
Despite prohibition, residents buy liquor from the local bootlegger. "He sells to children or anyone else who wants it. Everyone knows who he is," said the young teacher.
Eventually, he left the reserve over concerns for his safety and his health. "I lived in a moldy house and was perpetually sick," he said. "It's a very, very difficult place to live. It's hard to maintain your mental health."
Then the whole system needs to be totally reformed. The Indian Act is a big part of the problem in my opinion. It holds first nations back and keeps them dependent on the public purse. Scrap the Act. . Integrate them, teach them self sufficiency and how to take of themselves like the rest of us do.
Time to get out of the eighteenth century. We are living in the twenty-first century for goodness sakes! Treat First Nations people the same as every other Canadian.