Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence who had scheduled a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as well as Governor General David Johnston after staging a hunger strike since December 11th is now uncertain whether she will meet them. The meeting was scheduled for today to discuss indigenous land and water issues. Chief Spence had written to Queen Elizabeth to request that the Governor General, who is the official representative of the British Crown in Canada, attend the meeting. She had threatened to boycott the event if Johnston refused to attend. The four hour meeting, if it does take place, will include a handful of Chiefs from the Assembly of First Nations in Canada who have been organizing protests, blockades and flash mob dances in support of Spence through a world wide movement called ‘Idle No More’.
Among the issues which may be discussed are indigenous land and water rights, housing, health, education as well as a possible new revenue sharing system for the 1.2 million aboriginal people living in Canada. Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak stated that if demands were not met by the government, the ‘Idle No More’ movement would “bring the Canadian economy to its knees.”
Chief Theresa Spence, whose hunger strike has become a rallying point for the ‘Idle No More’ movement, began her action a week after a piece of legislation called Bill C-45 was presented to the Canadian Government. The bill, which eventually passed, stripped away many indigenous environmental rights.
While a constitutional provision requires that indigenous people have a say in any bills that have a direct impact on their lives, they were denied entrance to the House of Commons when they arrived to voice their concerns before the bill’s passage.
Native people have suffered systematic discrimination for many years. Activists feel that the government’s ultimate goal in passing anti indigenous legislation is to help pave the way for companies to expand their resource extraction operations throughout the Alberta region in British Columbia.
GUEST: Grand Chief Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs
There is a solidarity rally on Friday January 11th at 12 noon at the Canadian Consulate, 550 South Hope Street, Los Angeles CA 90071. Activists will gather again on Saturday January 12th at 3 pm at the same location.
Click here for more information about the rally.