the next step

Spence-by-fred-chartrand-from-the-g&mThe day after the First Nations meetings with the Prime Minister and the Governor-General, Chief Spence says her demands were not met and she will continue her hunger strike. She is not the only one. For example, the National Post reports that ‘Raymond Robinson [is] a Manitoba elder who has spent the last 30 days fasting to back a demand that Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston meet native leaders together’. He says, “We were never respected as First Nations people of this land. They’re always saying what’s good for us. We know what’s right for us. I’m going to continue until I get my demands met. I will not stand down until Harper meets with my chiefs with the Governor General present.” image of spence by fred chartrand, of robinson from the cbc.

The Post also reports that Chief Spence ‘spoke for the first time about how her Ontario reserve spends government money. She said most of what flows to the isolated James Bay community actually gets spent outside the community. The money, she said, goes towards supplies and to pay contractors, consultants, lawyers — and to taxes. “Most of the funding that we have, it goes back to you, to taxpayers.” … Spence said she has been the victim of false statements about her reserve’s handling on money. “It goes out of our reserve,” she said. “For example, if there’s housing, we have to hire contractors, we have to order the materials from out of town and the shipment, we pay tax on that. “We hire lawyers … consultants — that’s where the money goes.” ‘

In an NFB film, ‘The People of the Kattawapiskak River‘, Chief Spence stressed that Canadians and her band share the land according to a treaty, Treaty 9. A treaty between nations. But the Crown and Canada have not lived up to the treaty for generations. Now there are diamonds, and possibly oil and natural gas.

Living conditions on the reserve, which Canada’s own Auditor-General found deplorable, which the Supreme Court and the United Nations said need improving, unfortunately are not unique. Nor are Chief Spence’s demands.

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