I would like to challenge the obvious misinformation suggesting that the quality of life for more than 270,000 registered natives living off the reserves is a little better than those who live on reserves ("Indians worst off Canadians", Oct. 13).
Many aboriginal people living off-reserve are excluded from accessing their rights and benefits because of their "residency." They are ineligible to access adequate housing, education and culturally appropriate health services.
The federal government continues to reduce and "cap" budgets for people living on reserves. This, in turn, has a deep impact for aboriginal people, forcing them to leave reserves due to lack of housing and employment and training opportunities there.
Further to this, the chief medical officer for British Columbia recently reaffirmed in his 1997 annual report that aboriginal people living off-reserve have a 17 per cent higher "morbidity" and "mortality" rates compared to those living on reserves.
We only need to look to the Downtown Eastside to witness the amount of poverty and heroin addiction among aboriginal peoples who live off the reserves.
HIV-AIDS infection is having a greater impact on off-reserve aboriginal people, compared to the mainstream population.
These types of deceptive reports, which suggest off-reserve aboriginal people live in a much better state than they really do, only promote a greater lack of understanding among British Columbians to the truth and the realities of aboriginal peoples living off the reserves.
President, United Native Nations