Chief Theresa Spence will end hunger strike

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer

A band council delegation from the beleaguered Attawapiskat community hand-delivered an ultimatum to Chief Theresa Spence, informing her they would oust her from office unless she ended her liquid-diet protest. Spence announced that she is will end her 44-day hungerstrike and is scheduled to return to eating solid food on January 24, the day that chiefs conduct a major treaty meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Before Spence agreed to end her six-week-long liquids-only fast, Spence and her supporters wrote up a Declaration of Commitment consisting of 13 points. The 13 points specifies adherence to treaty relationships, approaching negotiations from a nation-to-nation perspective and taking measures to improve the lives of First Nations people and calls for a national inquiry into the hundreds of disappearances and murders of aboriginal women that go unsolved, improving education and housing, and fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 The Declaration of Commitment is endorsed by the AFN National Executive Committee, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada Parliamentary Caucus and the New Democratic Party National Caucus. It will officially be signed by the parties on January 24 by First Nations leaders and representatives of the opposition parties.


The 13 points can be read in full below



 First Nations: Working Towards Fundamental Change

In the true spirit of commitment to initiate dialogue to discuss both Treaty and non-Treaty Indigenous issues on behalf of our First Nations Peoples of Canada, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation and Mr. Raymond Robinson of Cross Lake, Manitoba will continue their Hunger Strike, pending outcome of this written Declaration. We also like to acknowledge Mr. Jean Sock of Elsipogtog, New Brunswick and all other Fasters who have shown their deep dedication and courage in support of protecting and honouring both Treaty and non-Treaty obligations as written, entered into or understood by all Peoples, with the Federal Government of Canada including each Provincial/Territorial signatory.

Further, we agree the self-sacrifice and the spiritual courage of Chief Theresa Spence, along with Elder Raymond Robinson and all other fasters have made clear the need for fundamental change in the relationship of First Nations and the Crown. We fully commit to carry forward the urgent and coordinated action required until concrete and tangible results are achieved in order to allow First Nations to forge their own destiny.

Therefore, we solemnly commit to undertake political, spiritual and all other advocacy efforts to implement a renewed First Nations – Crown relationship where inherent Treaty and non-Treaty Rights are recognized, honoured and fully implemented as they should be, within the next five years.

This Declaration includes, but is not limited to, ensuring commitments made by the Prime Minister of Canada on January 11th, 2013 are followed through and implemented as quickly as possible as led by First Nation on a high-level priority with open transparency and trust. Furthermore, immediate steps are taken working together to achieve the below priorities:


1. An immediate meeting to be arranged between the Crown, Federal Governments, Provincial Governments and all First Nations to discuss outstanding issues regarding the Treaty Relationship, as well as for non-Treaty area relationships.

2. Clear work-plans that shall include deliverables and timelines that outline how commitments will be achieved, including immediate action for short, medium and long-term goals. Addressing the housing crisis within our First Nation communities shall be considered as a short-term immediate action.

3. Frameworks and mandates for the implementation and enforcement of Treaties between Treaty parties on a Nation-to-Nation basis.

4. Reforming and modifying the comprehensive claims policy based on inherent rights of First Nations.

5. A commitment towards resource revenue sharing, requiring the participation and involvement of provinces and territories currently benefiting from resource development from traditional lands.

6. Commitment towards ensuring a greater collective oversight and action towards ensuring the sustainability of the land through a sustained environmental oversight.

7. A comprehensive review and meaningful consultation in regards to Bill C-38 and C-45 to ensure it is consistent with Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982).

8. Ensure that all federal legislation has the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations where inherent and Treaty rights are affected or impacted.

9. A revised fiscal relationship between First Nations and Canada that is equitable, sustainable and includes indexing and the removal of arbitrary funding caps.

10. A National Public Commission of Inquiry on Violence Against Indigenous Women of all ages.

11. Equity in capital construction of First Nation schools, including funding parity with Provincial funding formulas with additional funding support for First Nation languages.

12. A change in how government operates that would include direct oversight, a dedicated Cabinet Committee and Secretariat within the Privy Council Office with specific responsibility for the First Nation-Crown relationship to ensure implementation.

13. The full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – UNDRIP.

Chief Theresa Spence will not attend Friday meeting without Governor General

Source: Rebecca Lindell, Global News

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 8:23 PM

Read it on Global News: Global News | Spence will not attend Friday meeting without Governor General

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has pulled out of Friday’s meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper because Gov. Gen. David Johnston will not attend the gathering.

The Assembly of First Nations scheduled a meeting for Jan. 11 between Harper and some of its chiefs, including Spence, but on Tuesday Johnston’s office confirmed he would not attend because it is a “working meeting” with the government on public policy issues.

Spence responded by issuing this statement on Wednesday: “We have sent a letter to Buckingham Palace and requesting that Queen Elizabeth II send forth her representative which is the Governor General of Canada. I will not be attending Friday’s meeting with the Prime Minister, as the Governor General’s attendance is integral when discussing inherent and treaty rights.”

Read it on Global News: Global News | Spence will not attend Friday meeting without Governor General

United Nations speaks out about Chief Theresa Spence to Canada

Canadian authorities must start meaningful dialogue with aboriginal leaders – UN expert

Source: United News Centre

 8 January 2013 – A United Nations independent expert today urged the Canadian Government to establish a meaningful dialogue with the country’s aboriginal leaders in light of recent protests.

“I am encouraged by reports that Prime Minister Steven Harper has agreed to meet with First Nations Chiefs and leadership on 11 January 2013 to discuss issues related to aboriginal and treaty rights as well as economic development,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya.

He continued, “Both the Government of Canada and First Nations representatives must take full advantage of this opportunity to rebuild relationships in a true spirit of good faith and partnership.”

For weeks, aboriginal leaders and activists carried out protests referred to as ‘Idle no more,’ according to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It noted that the movement has been punctuated by the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation, which began on 11 December.

“I would like to add my voice to the concern expressed by many over the health condition of Chief Spence, who I understand will be joining indigenous leaders at this week’s meeting,” the Mr. Anaya said.

The independent expert stressed that the dialogue between the Government and First Nations should proceed in accordance with standards expressed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration states that indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their distinct identities and cultures as a basis of their development and place in the world, to pursue their own destinies under conditions of equality, and to have secure rights over lands and resources, with due regard for their traditional patterns of use and occupancy.

In particular, Mr. Anaya highlighted one of the preambles in the Declaration which affirms that treaties, agreements and other arrangements are the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States.

The Government affirmed a “commitment to continue working in partnership with Aboriginal peoples and in accordance with a relationship based on good faith, partnership and mutual respect,” when it released a statement supporting the Declaration on 12 November 2010, said Mr. Anaya, who has asked the Canadian authorities to provide relevant information on this matter, in accordance with the terms of his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council.

“I will continue to monitor developments as I hold out hope that the 11 January meeting will prompt meaningful and restorative action by the Government and First Nations leadership,” Mr. Anaya added.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs such as Mr. Anaya, are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Mohawk Women Forge Solidarity in Visit to Chief Spence

Gale Courey Toensing,

January 09, 2013

Courtesy Mohawk Council of Kahnawa:ke.
Eleven women elected Mohawk chiefs visited Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in her hunger strike tipi in Ottawa on December 18 and delivered a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper supporting Idle No More and demanding that he meet with Spence and address the issue of an unprecedented series of laws that many feel are oppressive and insulting to First Nations.

A delegation of women chiefs from three Mohawk Nation communities visited Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during the second week of her hungry strike last month to offer her their support and respect and in doing so forged a new alliance among themselves.

Kahnawà:ke Chiefs Rhonda Kirby, Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, Christine Zachary-Deom and Gina Deer, Kanesatake Chiefs Sonya Gagnier, Shannon Nicholas, Sheila Bonspiel, Akwesasne Chiefs Karen Loran, Louise Thompson, April Adams-Phillips and one other unnamed woman chief from Akwesasne traveled on December 18 to meet with Chief Spence in her tipi on Victoria Island in Ottawa where she had promised to fast on water and medicine tea until Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her and other First Nation leaders to talk about the federal government living up to its promises and responsibilities toward Indigenous Peoples. That meeting is now scheduled for January 11.

Spence’s hunger strike and the Idle No More movement were sparked by the passage in the Canadian legislature of the Bill C-45 with inadequate consultation with the nations. The bill amends the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Labour Code in ways that erode Indian sovereignty and control over their lands and resources. First Nations reacted immediately and strongly to the passage with protests and demonstrations across the country that have now spread in Idle No More solidarity rallies in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and even Japan.

Sky-Deer said the visit to Spence created an unprecedented bond of solidarity among the women Mohawk chiefs. “I think one of the most positive aspects of it was that it brought together the women leadership from our three Kanienkahaka (Mohawk people, the People of the Flint) communities, which otherwise may not have happened like that. It was a first meeting for all of us,” said Sky-Deer. Was the meeting the beginning of something new and great? “I hope so!” she said. “We’ve talked about continuing this in the New Year and maybe meeting again, because we face a lot of the same issues in our respective communities and it only helps us to strengthen and support each other in that we’re all Kanienkahaka women and have the best interest of our community and taking care of business. It was definitely a positive thing.”

Before traveling to Victoria Island, the women chiefs coordinated the gifts they would bring to Spence – tobacco, medicine bundles, eagle feathers and a big confederacy blanket that the Kahnawà:ke council donated, along with a confederacy flat that was hoisted on the palisades around the area where her tipi was located, Zachary-Deom said. “There was a big fire going near the tipi. She’s on very low lying ground, very moist and foggy and wet. I don’t know how healthy it is for her there. We were scheduled to see her at 2 p.m. but then we were told she had so many visitors and had just gone to bed,” Zachary-Deom said. So the women delivered letters from the Mohawk Council to Harper and Governor General David Johnson, the representative of the British Crown in Canada.

“The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke has grown increasingly concerned with the paternalistic legislative approach that Canada has taken regarding First Nations affairs, which is in conflict with not only our inherent self-determination, but is also a violation of the agreements between our People and the Crown,” the council wrote. “The recent passage of the Omnibus Budget Bill C-45 is an offensive action on Canada’s part that is causing an obvious and serious deterioration in First Nations/Canada relations. The unwillingness to take corrective measures and continue to consider legislation impacting First Nations only promotes further dissension. At this time, we feel obligated to caution Canada that continuation of this unilateral and paternalistic approach will only result in further deterioration and dissent amongst First Nations Peoples.”

After delivering the letters, the women chiefs returned to Victoria Island and after a long wait finally got to meet with Chief Spence. “We gave her our message of support and comforted her with the blanket we brought that we wrapped around her. We told her that whatever she needed she would just have to tell us and the Mohawks would support her,” Zachary-Deom said.

Each woman had the opportunity to speak individually to Spence, Sky-Deer said. “We each brought our own messages and words of support in how she inspired us, being a woman leader herself, and, you know, just the feeling in that tipi, to have 12 women there together and sharing the weight of what we carry for our communities and wanting to see the best things for our people and our future generations – it was a very positive, very uplifting, powerful experience,” Sky-Deer said.

The women said they hoped the meeting of the First Nations chiefs with the Harper government would result in some changes in the way the federal government conducts itself. “We hope to have a more direct relationship that’s not just them making decisions and passing legislation without consultation that directly affects people – our people and Canadians – across the country,” Sky-Deer said. “It’s very unilateral and it doesn’t take into account and consideration the long term effects that will happen. I’m hoping for the best. I’m hoping for maybe some repeal if the Harper government can understand what we’re looking at and what we want to protect.”


Chief Spence urged to end hunger strike for her health

Article by Monica Brown

As Attawapiskat’s Chief Theresa Spence’s 17th day of her hunger strike over bill C-45 comes to an end she is being urged by the federal health minister and first nation’s leader to end her hunger strike since they fear for her health. They are suggesting she meet with Aboriginal Affairs Minister, John Duncan whom she has refused to meet and speak with stating that she wishes to meet with Prime Minister Harper. Chief Spence has only had fish broth and water for the last 17 days as she is camped out in a teepee on the island which is considered by the Anishinabe to be traditional territory.

In support of Chief Spence flash mobs of round dance protesting have begun all over Canada and recently across the globe urging this problem be addressed. People have been invited to support and join Chief Spence in her hunger strike for a four day fast.

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus has said that Chief Spence’s hunger strike has entered a deadly phase and is reaching out to other chief’s in order to solve what has become a national crisis. Stating that, “This is much bigger than Theresa Spence, it’s much bigger than an individual community, this is across the country now and it really needs the prime minister to take action.”

Plans for protests across Canada and the U.S. are still in the works for the coming week and hopes are that this will meet an agreeable end.

Four day fast to show support for Chief Spence

Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario has vowed to die unless Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston to discuss the needed respect for aboriginal treaties which pertain to their housing, food and education. A four day fast has been called to honor Chief Spence who is now in her 17th day of her hunger strike.

People across North America are being asked to pray for Chief Spence and Canadian Prime Minister Harper that he “open his eyes and heart”. They have been asked to join her in a four day fast to show support. The fast will begin today December 27 and run to December 31.

Chief Spence will end her hunger strike if her request to meet with Canadian governmental officials is granted.  No meeting has been granted or arranged at this time.