December 28, 2012

What is Idle No More? "I'm doing this for the children, not just First Nations children but Canadian children."

The hunger strike of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, surrounded by supporters in a tipi on Victoria Island in the Ottawa river not far from Parliament Hill, has sparked an outpouring of solidarity and hundreds of support actions across the country (see our report here). The name this solidarity movement has taken on is Idle No More.

Chief Spence is carrying on, subsisting only on water, medicine tea and some fish broth every day, bearing icy cold weather and record snow storms pounding Ottawa. Spence has stated that she will stay on Victoria Island and die for her people, preferring to "meet her ancestors" if a meeting with Prime Minister Harper and all the leaders is denied her. The bottom line for her is the question of respecting the treaty relationship that First Nations people have with the Crown.

So far, the Prime Minister's Office has refused a meeting and referred the issue to Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan. Cheif Spence has declined a meeting with Duncan. She is now in the third-week of her hunger strike.

The Young Communist League of Canada and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada have both expressed their support to this struggle and are promoting Idle No More events, (listed on this post in calendar form below).

The Idle No More Manifesto, from their website, states:

We contend that:The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between First Nations and the British Crown who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.
We contend that:The state of Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.
We contend that:Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.
We contend that:There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them. Please join us in creating this vision.
You can also download a letter from Ontario Cheifs to the Queen about this issue here to hand to friends.

Other links: Facebook

Below you can hear an interview with Chief Spence.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular stories