theresa spence, chief of the attawapiskat first nation, has been fasting since dec 11, and is growing visibly weaker. image by fred chartrand from the globe and mail.
according to the toronto star, she wants to meet face-to-face with prime minister stephen harper and governor-general david johnston. although, according to ndp paul dewar, that’s all she wants, nor is it directly linked to the idle no more movement, she issued a statement that “this is a call to arms and a call to action in the most peaceful and respective way that reflects our natural laws as Indigenous nations…. We need to re-ignite that nation-to-nation relationship based on our inherent and constitutionally protected rights as a sovereign nation. We are demanding our rightful place back, here in our homelands, that we all call Canada.”
a supporter says, “They should just come and talk to us. Why are we afraid to communicate with one another?”
the star reports that ‘federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq joined other federal officials Friday asking Spence to to accept a meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan but Spence rejected that suggestion.
‘The government points to a meeting it held last January with First Nations leaders as proof it is serious about improving their relationship, and adds it has spent millions on aboriginal health, housing and education.
‘But aboriginal leaders say they are being left out of the discussion the Harper government is having about how best to develop Canada’s lucrative natural resources.’
in a telling statement that’s evidence of a militaristic and colonizing attitude, tory senator patrick brazeau says there is a ‘chain of command’ that spence should follow; she should request to meet with the minister of aboriginal affairs, not the prime minister. however, she does not, the implication being that this issue is far larger: it’s nation-to-nation, not band-to-ministry.
the star reports that ‘Joe Clark, who [met with spence last saturday and] was a Tory prime minister from 1979 to 1980, says First Nations friends of his had suggested he meet with Spence, chief of the remote reserve in Northern Ontario.
‘ “My experience has been that direct and honest dialogue is always useful and sometimes essential, particularly in dealing with issues as complex and multi-faceted as the relations between First Nations and Canada,” he said in a statement.
‘ “Chief Spence expressed a humble and achievable vision — one which I believe all Canadians can embrace.” ‘ image by sean kilpatrick.