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Share the Wealth: One Man's Opinion

By Ben Meisner

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 03:45 AM

If the Lheidli T’enneh treaty signed here on the weekend is to work, it will take one important component in order to be successful.

That is that the money and land that is about to be received is evenly split amongst all of the 320 people who belong to the band.

You will constantly hear the argument that many of these people do not know what to do with the kind of money and land involved in the settlement. Conversely how in the world will these same people be raised to our level in society if their own community says they do not have the ability to look after themselves?

The management of the band should not reap the rewards of any settlement, it must be split equally by all, and in the past, this has not always been the case with the result that the rank and file of the band feel that they continue to be discriminated against.

Each family in this settlement stands to gain about $800,000 dollars in cash and kind , if that is managed it will be more than sufficient to raise not only their standard of living but also put them in a place equal to those around them.

Simply taking this new found wealth and leaving the people on reserves, in reserve homes, being compelled to hold out their hands in order to receive money does nothing to improve their lot in life.

It makes little difference whether the Federal Indian Affairs or the band Hierarchy holds the purse strings if those on the receiving end must beg for their share.

I’m Meisner and that is one man’s opinion.

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Good point Ben, hopefully these members will get some good advice along the way in how to invest and manage their money - not everyone is good at money management and there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage. The payday loan companies have already set-up shop on some reserve lands to take advantage of the people receiving payments for the pain suffered at residential schools with only some band councils standing against this. Here's hoping this council shows the leadership they exhibited during these negoitiations and protects those members who may fall prey to these types of preditors!
Very good points. The idea of the band chief deciding on who has what property rights should end along with the reserve.
How big is a family? How much of the $800,000 is in cash and how much is "in kind"? What is the time period over which this is being given?

I trust that the Band Council has thought about this and will continue to consider how to put the money to best use for the collective as well as the individual.

I may have been wrong in thinking that at least part of those gains are to put towards improving the opportunities for the members of the band now and into the future by making building capacity through establishing one or more businesses which will go towards creating a sustainable social and economic community.

It is the band's money and I hope that they will provide some of the funds in the form of shares in a communal entity.
The last two comments have been deleted, The first one because it crossed the libel/slander line, the second because while it was intended to offset the dangerous comments, repeating a libel/slander is no less libelous or slanderous, even if the intent is to explain why the initial comment was wrong.

If this is not clear, please send me an email ( and I will explain further.

Elaine Macdonald
Well, here is hoping that the treaty will bring them happiness and contentment.
I agree Ben, as a first nation person, I dislike others assuming because I am first nations I am stupid with money, an alcoholic or street person. Especially our leadership.

I am a very well functioning individual. I have more education than most Chief or Councillors of most Bands.

When decisions are made, do these leaders go to their people? NO. They were told by someone in their past that they are the voice of the people and they hold the power of the people. This was true 400 years ago when the Chief listened and acted on the decisions of his people and he/she had no personal gain involved.

Today, most of our leaders come from some form of dysfunctional background (alcoholism, Residential School etc) and because they have problems with their issues they assume the rest of the population has those same weaknesses.

Therefore, assume we are stupid with money, are alcoholics or street persons. We can not be trusted to have a few dollars because we might drink it up or whatever.

Also if the bands do divide the package what will the leadership do? No more free trips to bogus meetings they don't attend half the time, No more free meals, No more free gifts. Of course they want to decide how and where these dollars will go.

Again, thanks Ben for being brave enough to tell it like it is.

I appreciate it. From a first nations person.
It is just a matter of how you say it. Right?
How many first nation people have bank accounts? How many first nation people have experience in handling any substantial sums of money? How many first nation people even know what they should do with their money they receive from settlements?

So, herein lies the challenges. Who is supposed to help them? And what is it that they need? They can't help themselves and they don't trust anyone else to help them either. I don't know what the solution is. Do you? Chester
Uh Chester,

I have 4 bank accounts, a mortgage, 2 credit cards, car payments, and am quite familiar with financial planning. There are some First Nations people in this community who are millionaires and did it without any government handouts.

I agree with Ben on this one. So much money that is given to bands on behalf of band members like me, who live off-reserve, is wasted and pissed away by poor fiscal management. Because I grew up off-reserve and chose to go to school, I am pretty much eliminated from a lot of benefits.

I know when my band signs its agreement, there will be little or no benefit for me.

Man, if someone gave me $800,000, I'd be on easy street. I'd start my own financial planning business and make tons o' money.

And that, is another mans opinion.
Big_B. Thank you for recognizing the solution. Of course, you are not the folks who are vulnerable or in need help.

I am well aware of many First Nations people who work for a living and are productive members of society. Good for everyone who has decided not to settle for the controlled life a reserve offers. Reserves are not a solution in my opinion. And I have been on a number of them over the years.

All of this money that is being handed out is supposed to be helping those who are really in need. My concern is that it will not be going to those who it is intended. After the lawyers and the check cashing folks are done, their may be 30% left for the receipient. Sad. Chester