I reported a few days ago on the hunger strike by Theresa Spence, leader of the Attawapiskat First Nation (one of the recognised indigenous peoples of Canada), which has now reached its 20th day. Theresa is reportedly in a very weak condition and there are increasing worries about her fate as the aboriginal rights’ movement, Idle No More, steps up its campaign of peaceful protests across the country. One of the more disturbing aspects of Theresa Spence’s hunger fast and the political demonstrations around it by men, women and children from the First Nations has been the response of the Anglophone press in Canada. The majority of journalists and commentators have vigorously attacked Spence and the cause of indigenous rights through various print and electronic media, both nationally and locally. Of course this antagonism to the original inhabitants of the North American continent is nothing new in Canada but the hunger strike by the chief of the Attawapiskat people has brought to the surface a thick poison of racism and bigotry that seems to infuse Canadian society and culture. The comment sections of the online Canadian media is filled with literally thousands of racist views and opinions, an outpouring of vitriol that seems all too familiar to Irish-speaking citizens here in Ireland. Hatred of indigenous peoples and cultures knows no boundaries.
From the Net News Ledger:
“That great editorial writer in the sky – the Sun Media guru whose opinions are regurgitated verbatim every day in several dozen newspapers across Canada – has decreed that the answer to dealing with First Nations social conditions is to round up citizens of communities like Attawapiskat and ship them somewhere else. Where, he doesn’t specify. Perhaps he would suggest Mars, if that would be far enough out of his sight, and out of his mind?
Oh, and burn their communities to the ground following the forced evacuations, he suggests, the Yuletide season apparently having left him in an ethnic-cleansing humour.
The evidence on which such drastic prescriptions are based are figures thoughtfully provided by our friends at the federal ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs, who changed their name in complete disregard for the opinions of First Nations people, the same way they fulfil all their appointed chores. According to “the books”, as Sun Guru so reverently refers to them, federal funding support for the James Bay community of Attawapiskat are routinely squandered into exorbitant salaries paid to elected members of the First Nation’s band council.
That would include Chief Theresa Spence, who is currently entering the third week of a hunger strike in a tent pitched on Victoria Island, a short limousine ride from Stephen Harper’s palatial residence in Ottawa. (Canadian taxpayers picked up the tab for the Prime Minister’s Christmas turkey, but not Chief Spence’s wigwam or water.) Chief Spence merely wants the PM to tell her face-to-face why his government has thumbed its nose at promises implicit in treaties made by Canada with First Nations, pledges which, if kept, would ensure a sharing of the nation’s natural resource wealth with the people from whose lands it has been unilaterally plundered.”
And also from the Ledger comes news of a racist assault on an indigenous woman. Canada’s self-promoted image as a liberal and tolerant, multi-cultural melting pot has proved yet again to be utter nonsense.