Letter: Service cutbacks, lifestyle hurting Nisga’a communities

"This social services system does not recognize who we are as Nisga’a people."

Dear Sir:

A few still remember the style of living during the residential days. Our forefathers were forced to go to school elsewhere. We find it strange that this generation of today is living under the same conditions as they did.

In the old days we did not have social assistance. We lived off the land and enjoyed that style of living. Today we have financial assistance to purchase the supplies for food and other expenses, rent, phone, cable and house payments the list goes on.

This social services system does not recognize who we are as Nisga’a people. We do not receive any funds that go toward our most valued feast system that governs our way of living. With the funds given we barely make ends meet because of the high prices of food and transportation (gas) needed to go and get our groceries in Terrace.

The local government is making cutbacks on what little amounts are given through social services. There are some families today who have children and their already small amount given is reduced even more. Because of cutbacks many of us can no longer take part in local fundraisers.

Some people are disabled and cannot work because of their health. These people have to go to a therapist to be able to receive their assistance. This is wrong because their doctors told them they cannot work.

We still have a system were only certain people are doing fine while others are not. Only certain people seem to be able to fish during the inland fishing season because they can afford it.

Our right to a better life is a very difficult journey in today’s style of living.

Our forefathers told us how the RCMP were the ones asked to remove them from their homes and sent to school elsewhere where they could not speak their language or practice their culture.

Today we get the feeling there are still people who interfere in our lives if we have a complaint.

Richard Benson, Gingolx, B.C.