A quick post to draw attention to the protests by the indigenous rights organisation “Idle No More” which have swept Canada in recent weeks. They have culminated in a hunger strike by Theresa Spence, leader of the Attawapiskat First Nation (one of the recognised aboriginal peoples of Canada), which is drawing major media attention now that it has reached its third week.
From the Globe and Mail:
“The aboriginal interpretive centre on an island in the middle of the Ottawa River where Theresa Spence is living out her hunger strike is not an unhappy place. There are fires and drumming and even the occasional round of song.
Native leaders have come from disparate parts of Canada to meet with the Attawapiskat chief who has said she will fast until the federal government gives in to her demand for a meeting among first nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown.
Ms. Spence wants to discuss the treaty that was signed in the first decade of the last century that covered a broad swath of Northern Ontario, including her own impoverished reserve. It promised money, education and health care in exchange for sharing the land.
Ms. Spence, like the descendants of the signatories of similar treaties across the country, says Canada is no longer living up to its part of the bargain.
…her personal crusade began about the same time as first nations across Canada embarked on a widespread and prolonged series of demonstrations under the banner of “Idle No More.” Those actions were also aimed at the Conservative government – specifically at a number of bills that will have a direct effect on aboriginal communities.
…disruptions are continuing across Canada. Boxing Day round dances were organized in shopping malls, and a blockade of a CN rail track in south-western Ontario continued into its sixth day.
In downtown Vancouver, dozens of supporters disrupted Boxing Day traffic as they marched through the streets in solidarity. Police closed sections of Granville and Georgia Streets and directed traffic as the group wound through the downtown core, banging drums, waving flags, chanting and holding up signs reading, “Assimilate us no more” and “Honour the treaties, stop C-45.” At the intersection of Robson and Burrard Streets, the supporters formed a large circle, stalling traffic for about 15 minutes.”
More below in an interview with Theresa Spence:
- Aboriginal affairs minister worried about Attawapiskat chief (cbc.ca)
- ‘You cannot ignore this request’: Garneau, Trudeau seek action for hunger-striking chief (news.nationalpost.com)
- Meet with hunger-striking First Nations chief, former Ontario lieutenant governor tells Harper (o.canada.com)
- Interview: Attawapiskat Chief Therese Spence asks for respect for aboriginal peoples (tennesseehawk.typepad.com)