Ottawa, Ontario                                                                                                                                      January 22, 2024 


 An Audit is Required for Federal Indigenous Funding

The enormous amount of money given to the Indigenous population is staggering. One has to actually look at the official Public Accounts to realize that this is happening. Justin Trudeau’s government is pouring billions and billions of dollars into a bottomless sack held out by Indigenous activists with no accountability.

The Background to this Funding

In 2019, Indian Affairs was split into two departments: the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

According to public records, in 2017, the federal government directed $9.132 billion to Indian Affairs. The main estimates for 2023-2024 project $48.7 billion in expenditures, a fivefold increase. This is to be split between the Crown-Indigenous (at $9.1 billion) and Indigenous Services (at $39.6 billion). To put this in perspective, Indigenous Department’s expenditures in 2023-2024 will exceed that allotted to National Defence’s ($24.8 billion), Infrastructure, ($7.3 billion) and Foreign Affairs, ($7.2 billion).

Canada’s federal budgeted expenditures for 2023-2024 are estimated at $10 thousand per Canadian but Indigenous Department expenditures are expected to be $27 thousand per Indigenous person.

According to Public Accounts Transfer Payments, in the fiscal year 2023, Indigenous Services Canada handed out $17.8 billion of its $39.6 billion budget for grants to over 7,000 Indigenous bands, tribes and organizations. In addition to this, Indigenous groups receive other funding from the departments of Canadian Heritage, Health Canada and the feminist Women and Gender Equality Canada, a department of the Government of Canada which now encompasses Youth and 2SLGBTQQIA+.

Further Indigenous Funding

These huge sums are not the only government payments made to the Indigenous population. Indigenous requests for money have become an industry established for the many reasons that Indigenous activists can think up. These requests are based on the premise that Indigenous people have historically experienced intergenerational trauma because of colonialism and systemic racism, which have victimized them and caused social and economic difficulties entitling them to compensation.

These grants were not made on the basis of evidence or proof of actual harm, a standard required by the courts, but were based on the proposition that all government policies relating to the Indigenous were made with genocidal intent. Grants include:

  1. Residential Schools Compensation

In 2005, in order to avoid clogging the justice system, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin agreed to a settlement with Indigenous people of $5 billion, to compensate students for supposed harm caused by the residential school system. This money was paid to the students without proof that they experienced actual harm in the residential school system. Many of these former students have become noted physicians, lawyers, politicians, teachers, social workers, authors, journalists, musicians, etc. How would this have occurred without the opportunity to be educated by the residential schools?

This compensation however, was only the beginning of such demands for compensation.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that students attending residential schools were sexually and physically abused and neglected – many dying due to the inhumane treatment. The bodies of many Indigenous children were supposedly buried in unmarked graves on residential school property.

The Commission did not provide evidence that this had occurred, relying solely on anecdotal stories by some of the students.

  1. The Trudeau Government provided $320 million to Indigenous Bands to Locate the Unmarked Graves

Only one Indigenous band, the Pine Creek band in Manitoba, actually carried out a search for the graves. It found no evidence of buried bodies or that any crimes had been committed. No other band has undertaken a search for the “missing graves”. This raises the question as to what has happened to the money set aside for this purpose?

The BC Government has provided death certificates of students who died while attending residential schools in that province. These death certificates indicated that the children who had died while students at the residential schools had all died because of disease or accidents and were buried either on their home reserves or on hospital property.

  1. Indigenous Children Educated in Day Schools Operated on Reserves

The federal government paid $1.6 billion to Indigenous children who attended day schools located on the reserves. These students attended school during the day and returned home to their families after school. They also spent weekends and holidays with their families, speaking their own language and living within their own culture.

  1. Indigenous Children in the Welfare System

In November 2021, the federal government provided $40 billion for Indigenous children who had been placed in the welfare system under the 1965 Child Welfare Agreement with First Nations.

  1. Indigenous Female Murders

The Trudeau government provided $54 million to establish a National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The official report of this inquiry called the deaths of these women “a Canadian genocide”. According to Chief Commissioner, Marion Buller, there was a “deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide”. In December 2023, Statistics Canada reported that nearly all of the murdered women (86%) were killed by Indigenous men.

Where has All the Funding to Indigenous People Gone?

With all this money distributed to the Indigenous population, it is only reasonable for taxpayers to inquire “where has all this money gone?”.

It has not been used to alleviate the problems and suffering of the individual Indigenous people still living on the reserves. Most of these people continue to live in overcrowded housing that is in grievous need of serious repair. Between 1995 and 2007, there were 713 water advisory warnings, requiring the boiling of water. Currently, there are still 52 advisories to boil water.

Who is Benefiting from the Indigenous Funding?

The above also raises the question as to who is actually benefiting from this government funding.

Prime Minister Harper tried to answer this question in March 2013, by passing the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which included band chiefs and councillors providing audited financial statements, including their salaries and expenses. However, one of Prime Minister Trudeau’s first actions, after his election in 2015, was to repeal this legislation, claiming that it was not necessary.

Indigenous Problems Increasing

Despite these billions of dollars paid out to the Indigenous population, their problems keep increasing. A 2019 Statistics Canada survey disclosed that Aboriginal children are much more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal children. The survey also revealed that Indigenous children under 15 are ten times more likely to be taken into child welfare care because of child maltreatment or neglect. The survey also disclosed that 26% of Indigenous women experience sexual violence during their childhood as compared to non-Indigenous women. It also stated that in 2015 -2019, the average homicide rate involving Indigenous victims was six times higher than the homicide rate involving non-Indigenous victims.

Incarceration Rate of Indigenous Males

On November 30, 2022, Corrections Service Canada provided a report entitled Ethnocultural Offenders in Federal Custody: An Examination of Admission, In-Custody Indicators among Men. The report disclosed that, although Indigenous men represented 5% of the Canadian public, they represented 25% of the offenders in custody. The Supreme Court of Canada attempted to reduce Indigenous inmates in 1999, in R.v Gladue, a well intentioned, but utterly naïve decision requiring judges sentencing Aboriginals to consider any background that caused them “historical injustice”, such as attending residential schools.

In 2019 and 2021, the Trudeau government amended the Criminal Code to provide that parole and bail provisions be less restrictive for Aboriginal offenders and other racialized groups. Because of these legal changes, Aboriginals are mostly unaccountable for their illegal acts.

Consequently, the number of Indigenous offenders has increased, with a high rate of recidivism (repeat offences), resulting in a 28% increase in indigenous offenders in custody.

Indigenous Live in Disturbing Circumstances

It is simplistic to blame Aboriginal crime and violence on suffering due to ill treatment by society. However, there seems to be something seriously disturbing about Indigenous culture that may be the cause of so many social calamities – a noticeable absence of stable family life. Promotion of strong Indigenous families may be the only way to affect meaningful and lasting change for the better. It is mistaken and dangerous to create policies on the assumption that Indigenous people are inherently victims.

The tragedies of the Indigenous people will continue to increase no matter how much money is handed over to them. Policies must be developed to address the heart of their problem which is the lack of a stable and safe environment. It is irresponsible for the federal government to continue to pour billions of tax dollars into the Indigenous file, without determining whether this money has been put to effective use. There is an urgent requirement that an audit be carried out on funding to the Indigenous population.


For further information contact: 

Pauline Guzik  

National President  

REAL Women of Canada  


Cathy Smith 

Western Canada Board Member 

REAL Women of Canada