By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
OTTAWA--Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston have been invited to attend a treaty meeting on Jan. 24, the one-year anniversary of the Crown-First Nations gathering.
In a letter sent on New Year’s Day to Harper and Johnston, Atleo urges both men to immediately accept the invitation to quell escalating cross-country protests and bring an end to the hunger strikes by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and Cross Lake Elder Raymond Robinson.
“Immediate acceptance to this urgent invitation will, both respond to the health of Chief Spence and Raymond Robinson and enable those currently demonstrating for such a meeting to return to their communities and to their responsibilities,” wrote Atleo, in the Jan. 1 letter obtained by APTN National News. “We can then support and enable focused dialogue and work led by each First Nation, within every treaty area on matters of greatest importance.”
Spence began her hunger strike on Dec. 11 and Robinson on Dec. 12. The Idle No More, grassroots movement has also been sweeping the country through flash mob round dances, rallies and blockades, and it has generated considerable support in the U.S. and around the world.
A number of rail blockades have also been launched over the past few weeks, including two in Ontario, one in British Columbia and an ongoing rail blockade in northeastern Quebec.
In the letter, Atleo said First Nations chiefs recently held emergency discussions and that the leadership is “determined to set a course of resolution for our people.”
The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment on whether they were open to participating in the meeting.
A spokeswoman for Johnston said they had received the invitation.
“A reply will be shared with the Assembly of First Nations in due course,” said Julie Rocheleau, in an email to APTN National News.
Atleo did not mention location of the treaty meeting, however, some chiefs have pushed to have it held in Saskatchewan. Last year’s Crown-First Nations gathering was held in Ottawa.
There was also no mention in the letter of a planned Jan. 16 day of action, but Atleo wrote that First Nations would be “meeting and assessing their strategies for change needed urgently in the days and weeks ahead.”
During the emergency meetings, which were co-chaired by Serpent River Chief Isadore Day, from Ontario, and Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox, from Saskatchewan, chiefs discussed setting Jan. 16 as a day of action that could see economic disruptions across the country.
The participating chiefs also issued a letter signed by “First Nation leaders of Turtle Island” following their meetings and called on Harper to uphold the “honour of the Crown.”
In an interview Thursday, Fox said he was disappointed with Atleo’s letter and said it didn’t reflect the direction the national chief received following a meeting on Monday. Fox said Atleo was asked to include Saskatchewan as the location for the proposed treaty meeting and to mention Jan. 16 as a set day of action.
Fox said Atleo was also told by the Spence camp to include a deadline for response in the letter to the prime minister and governor general.
“I am very disappointed with the way it was drafted, that is not what was understood on Monday when he was present,” said Fox.
Fox said if Harper and Johnston reject the invitation, then the day of action should be moved up to the middle of next week.
“It’s (Spence’s) health that is the immediate priority here,” said Fox.
APTN National News has obtained minutes from a conference call between Treaty 1 to 11 chiefs on Dec. 28, 2012, which discussed plans to target “main economic and energy corridors, such as power sources, railways and highways.”
According to the minutes, “it was agreed that in the short-term, immediate pressure needs to be stepped up because Chief Spence’s health is at risk.”
On Wednesday, Spence issued a statement saying First Nations leaders were planning to issue “breach of treaty” declarations and launch “country wide economic disturbances.”
The AFN executive also met on Wednesday.
“First Nations leaders from coast-to-coast-to coast have collectively raised our voices about the critical situation facing First Nations,” wrote Atleo. “Solutions will not come overnight, but solutions must begin now and they must be done in full respect of the treaty relationship and our inherent responsibilities.”
14 thoughts on “Atleo urges PM, GG to accept treaty meeting invitation to quell protests, end hunger strikes: letter”
I dont think theres a need to be racist…..that just shows a weakness….I think if it was a white, black, yellow, purple or green person that was advocating with a hunger strike I think there would still be the same outcome that ppl are doing today because its a movement for all ppl not just Aboriginals….some ppl are so rude and say harsh things like …”oh they just want more money”….helloooo ppl …its the govt that wants more money,,,,,who the hell do u think is going to be selling these oils and taking a countrywide risk of destroying our lands….what good will our lands be if pipes burst and the lands are guggling beneath our feet with oil……..
The Message is for humans across the earth to stop fighting one and another to stand in unity to protect our waters, lands, air, etc… regardless if you are red,black, yellow or white, and remember the white supremacist’s perception created race politics. It’s time we all stop paying taxes to the illegal tax collectors… We don’t need CANADA we need clean water!
Atleo and the AFN will probably come up with some kind of plan to sell out the First Nation People of Canada, just like they did before with the Residential Schools. Rather than push for Tribunals to investigate and charge church leaders and government officials with crimes agains humanity, the AFN signed an agreement with Canada to give out hush money. No one was investigated, no one had to take responsibility for their actions and crimes against the indigenous people of this country, because the AFN which is funded by the government of Canada, made a deal. They sold out the people they’re supposed to represent!
Where was the AFN in 2009 when this Bill was brought forth by the Minority Conservatives? Now the AFN shows up after Chief Spence puts her life on the line for all of Canadians and Atleo response is “it’s deadly serious”? Really Atleo, you are an incompetent leader and should resign. One should note that the AFN also has no authority to negotiate on behalf of any First Nations, as each Nation is sovereign. The AFN is also just another money sucking bureaucracy that serves no real purpose, other than to serve the interests of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Indian Act Leadership (Present Band Chiefs and Councils) have no business meeting with the Prime Minister or Governor General about Treaties or Aboriginal Rights, they are not the signatories of any Treaty.
huh?…I think anyone has those rights to question anything about where Canada stands including the treaty rights……the Prime Minister is just another human being like the rest of us…hes not some special power ranger that noone is allowed to talk to…and of course theyre not the signatories on the treaties because theyre long passed but that doesnt mean we have to keep silent and idle….thanks for the giggle tho
That is a ludicrous statement to make, you sure youre not a government spy?
Looks like the infighting is already beginning yet again between Chiefs – will you ever unite on a message for our people?
It is not complicated, confusing or unrealistic. The message is; Canada needs to honour the Treaties.
Why don’t they just have it in Chief Spence’s Tee Pee
flowerpower ..ever hear of Boat Harbour? Sadly livlihood and protection had already been taken away from FN people in Nova Scotia as well, more than 45 years ago ..
Why not send them to Nova Scotia where the lands have not yet been raped.
Send who to Nova Scotia?
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