Hunger-striking Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence is the reincarnation of Mahatma Ghandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. She is becoming the ...
The Harper Conservatives' lack of consultation with First Nations represents a dangerous narrow-mindedness. The same goes for the government's neglect of environmental protection. It is time to idle no more. It is time to speak out, for First Nations, and for Canadians as a whole.
What are the specific demands of the #IdleNoMore movement? Chief Spence has said that her strike is ultimately about "respect." What specifics are the Idle No More movement looking to change? Repeal of Bill C-45? Removal of the Indian Act? Platitudes about "respect" require detail unless you are Aretha Franklin. Conditions for Aboriginals in our country must improve and the status quo is unacceptable. But #IdleNoMore has a temporary momentum, and unless it answers three basic questions it has a very real expiry date.
I woke up just past midnight with a bolt. My six-month-old son was crying. He has a cold -- the second of his short life -- and his blocked nose frightens him. I was about to get up when he started snoring again. I, on the other hand, was wide awake. A single thought entered my head: Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. Her hunger is not just speaking to Stephen Harper. It is also speaking to all of us, telling us that the time for bitching and moaning is over. Now is the time to act, to stand strong and unbending for the people, places and principles that we love.
During the Arab Spring,Tunisians and Egyptians awoke from the fog of fear, stood up and spoke out on the streets of Cairo and took their movement to the polls. In contrast, voter turnout for First Nations has been dismal at best. Like many oppressed Canadians, Aboriginals have diluted their own strength via their collective electoral idleness. Here's hoping for an Aboriginal Autumn that lasts through the 2015 Spring election.
Canada is guilty of one of the most elemental colonial sins: trying to destroy aboriginal culture and assimilate aboriginal people. That's why Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike matters. This time, our first peoples won't be placated with an apology in parliament, This time, the revolt is for real.
Chief Theresa Spence hasn't eaten in over 11 days. The weather has taken a big turn for the worse and her tent home on Victoria Island is far from ideal. This was a serious business and she told me she wasn't backing down. I knew then I was watching the beginning of a revolution. Chief Spence has put her life on the line. This is not a game. This is not a stunt. Every day that Mr. Harper tries to wait out the crisis, the stakes rise higher. Mr. Harper has a very short window to show leadership. He needs to come the table and begin to address the issues that have driven so many First Nation communities into poverty and despair.
The story behind the headline is that Chief Spence's hunger strike is not simply about the appalling conditions her people continue to face. Spence is one of many aboriginal leaders looking for a way to express her frustration with the Government of Canada passing laws that affect their lives and land, as well as violating treaty rights without involving them in any of the decision making.
"I'm willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what (it's) doing to us." We should all be ashamed that these words were uttered in Canada, and that a First Nation leader has put her life on the line to be heard. A hunger strike in Canada is a sign of imperfect democracy.
Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat started a hunger strike this week -- "I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what it's doing to us." The frustration of Aboriginal Peoples is understandable given the complete lack of progress on their issues and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with them on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights. The outrage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is not only understandable, but justified.
Waiting, waiting and waiting for promises of a better life built the Native Tobacco industry. The taste of success and finical independence lead to the growth of this business. Many don't want this way of life but circumstances have led many to this profession.
Last night I stood in the kind of hip club space I haven't visited since my 20s, jammed with nominees for the annual Canadian Online Publishing Awards. That spirit of course imbues our own upstart site here at HuffPost Canada, which was nominated for no fewer than eight awards. You can imagine how proud I was, as the former Managing Editor of Blogs here, to see our talented writers walk away with both the Gold and Silver awards for Best Blog in the daily and weekly newspapers, and broadcasters category.
This week will mark the first anniversary since Attawawpiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency over the abysmal housing situation on the James Bay coast. Footage of the living conditions in this isolated community shocked Canadians and resulted in a media firestorm. The crisis became a cultural Pandora's box that unleashed numerous issues and misconceptions regarding our relationship with Canada's First Peoples. Now on the eve of this dark anniversary, Canada's "Katrina" moment has made it to the big screen. And who better equipped to tell the real story of the 2011-housing crisis than iconic filmmaker Alanis Obamsawin?
We are disturbed that in the days following a Federal Court decision you refused to provide a ministerial guarantee to support a plan to build 30 new duplexes in Attawapiskat through rents established at market rates. Thirty new units would have gone a long way towards alleviating the serious levels of overcrowding in the community. As the band had already been approved by CMHC, your role was simply to sign a ministerial guarantee. This was not a hand-out but a forward-looking plan that to provide safe housing for families who are living in very precarious conditions.
On August 1, the Federal Court released its judicial review of the appointment of a Third Party Manager in Attawapiskat. Over and over again, the Federal Court states that financial mismanagement was not the issue, and never had been. The fact that the public dialogue about Attawapiskat was almost wholly concerned with allegations of such mismanagement, demonstrates just how intensely events can become hijacked by misunderstandings.
Federal court ruled Wednesday morning the that the Conservative government's response to the crisis in Attawapiskat was unreasonable and failed to look at any remedy other than the appointment of a Third Party Manager. Rather that own up to their mistake the Conservative government says it is "disappointed" with the decision. What will it take for this government to take responsibility for its own incompetence? The Conservative government must work with First Nations to find solutions rather than simply trying to deflect blame for their own failures.