Attawapiskat Chief Spence reissues call for PM, GG treaty meeting

Hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence issued a statement Tuesday again calling on the prime minister and the governor general to agree to a meeting with First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties.

APTN National News
OTTAWA–Hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence issued a statement Tuesday again calling on the prime minister and the governor general to agree to a meeting with First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties.

Spence is into her eight day of a hunger strike and she is spending most of her days and nights in a teepee on Victoria Island, which sits in the Ottawa River and in the shadow of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Spence, whose northern Ontario community burst onto the national consciousness last year during a housing crisis, began the hunger strike to force a national treaty meeting.

“I am calling on Prime Minister Harper and the governor-general to initiate immediate discussions and the development of action plans to address treaty issues with First Nations across Canada,” said Spence, in a statement which was distributed by the Assembly of First Nations. “There has been no progress in alleviating the state of poverty that exists with First Nations across Canada, especially in rural isolated reserves, contrary to progress reported by the Conservative government.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has indicated it’s unlikely Harper will agree to the meeting. The PMO said Monday the prime minister already attended the Crown-First Nations gathering last January which included Gov. Gen. David Johnston and First Nations leaders from across the country. The PMO also said Harper met with Atleo on Nov. 28.

Johnston ignored questions about a meeting with Spence during a public appearance Tuesday at Ottawa’s city hall.

Spence says in the statement that the Canadian government has not followed through with any of its commitments flowing the Crown-First Nations gathering.

“Canada has not upheld the honour of the Crown in its dealings with First Nations, as evidenced in its inadequate and inequitable funding relationship with our nations,” said Spence’s statement. “Treaties are international in nature and further Indigenous rights are human rights, both collective and individual and must be honoured and respected.”

Spence said the time for talk had passed.

“There has been enough talk, enough politics, now is the time to develop action plans,” said Spence, in the statement. “All First Nations across Canada stand united and in solidarity in advancing this urgent call for action and attention.”

Members of Parliament MP’s are starting to take notice of Spence’s hunger strike.  Today Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar spent time with Attawapiskat’s chief to talk about her concerns.

“It’s a mixture of sadness, frustration and anger, we have seen this all too often and just ignoring it as if there’s nothing to deal with here and almost like it’s an irritant when people do speak up and speak out,” he said.

And Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, the party’s Aboriginal affairs critic, also released a letter to the prime minister Tuesday accusing Harper of treating First Nations peoples as “adversaries.” Bennett said Harper had damaged any of the goodwill generated by his 2008 apology to Indian residential school survivors.

“The discontent of First Nations with your government’s subsequent unilateral and paternalistic approach has reached a level that could irrevocably damage the relationship between First Nations and the Crown and will lead to a long-term confrontation,” said Bennett. “The hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat…illustrates the profound frustration of First Nations leaders with your refusal to listen to or act upon their legitimate concerns.”

In her letter, Bennett calls on Harper to agree to the treaty meeting and also visit Spence to hear “directly from her why she has felt it necessary to take such drastic action.”

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11 thoughts on “Attawapiskat Chief Spence reissues call for PM, GG treaty meeting

  1. Prime Minister Harper’s apology wasn’t sincere anyone with a slight understanding of government should know that. Harper is just there to get what he can for himself a worse Prime Minister we have never had. What has he done for anyone except waste our hard earned tax dollars on his stupid whims. He doesn’t even do research on what he agrees to spend money on.
    Totally useless this is one person that would have been better off not to be born.

  2. This is so heartwrenching !! .. Proof of what this gov’t thinks of aboriginal women !! A country is not defeated until the hearts of all it’s women are in the ground . If there’s a shred of humanity in the hearts of the governor general and the prime minister they will do the right thing !!

  3. The APTN story said “Hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence issued a statement Tuesday again calling on the prime minister and the governor general to agree to a meeting with First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties”.

    So apparently Chief Spence doesn’t want the PM and CG to meet with her but rather with “First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties”.

    That’s interesting. Not one of the treaties calls for the Crown to pay for housing on Indian reserves or to fund infrastructure like roads, bridges, water and sewage treatment plants, community centres, hockey rinks, band offices, etc. or to pay for services like policing or to pay for social programs on Indian reserves and the only treaties that talk about a school and/or a teacher on each reserve are the 11 numbered treaties across western Canada. None of the other treaties or agreements says anything about education for Indians on Indian reserves.

    And only one, perhaps two, of the 11 numbered treaties call for a medicine bag on each reserve. None of the other treaties calls for medicine or healthcare for Indians on Indian reserves.

    And many Indian bands in British Columbia haven’t yet made treaties with the Crown.

    So, maybe PM Harper and the Governor General should meet with First Nations leaders, bring the treaties, go through them paragraph by paragraph and tell First Nations leaders that Canada will follow the treaties verbatim, withdraw funding where it is not called for in treaties and withdraw all funding from those Indian bands that don’t yet have treaties.

    1. Agreements with provinces, etc.

      114. (1) The
      Governor in Council may authorize the Minister, in accordance with this
      Act, to enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty for the
      education in accordance with this Act of Indian children, with

      (a) the government of a province;

      (b) the Commissioner of Yukon;

      (c) the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories;

      (c.1) the Commissioner of Nunavut;

      (d) a public or separate school board; and

      (e) a religious or charitable organization.

      Marginal note:Schools

      (2) The Minister may, in accordance with this Act, establish, operate and maintain schools for Indian children.

      dude you are way over your head

      1. That’s part of the Indian Act that apparently many Indians don’t like.

        And that is legislation unilaterally enacted by the Canadian federal government and does not follow what is in the treaties. In fact, it includes items not promised in many treaties and items for Indian bands that don’t even have treaties.

        So, do you want the Indian act or not?

        By the way, I thought Chief Spence wants the PM and the GG to discuss the treaties with First Nations leaders not the Indian Act.

      2. Your quote above is from the Indian Act.

        The article said Chief Spence is “calling on the prime minister and the governor general to agree to a meeting with First Nations leaders from across the country to discuss the treaties”. It says treaties.

        1. You ignorance is a disgrace to the human race in general. Perhaps you and Mr. Harper should return to the lands where your ancestors came from. And while you’re on your ship back to your homelands, read a little bit and educate yourself.

    2. LOL, you are such an idiot. There are dozens and dozens of treaties, land purchases not to mention Federal, provincial and international laws you need a doctorate degree in Aboriginal constitutional law (or be a white guy who knows it all) to make sense of it. If it’s too much for you to bear I hear the peasant farm from which you hail calling you. Sounds like a New Brunswick name. My godness I think that’s Micmaq territory. Good luck with that.

    3. You do realize that these treaties she is speaking of were written a
      long time ago right? When most of these were written and signed by First
      Nations it was with minimal understanding between each other. There
      were obvious language barriers. Not to mention First Nations people were
      told and believed that by signing these treaties it would protect their
      way of life and that the land put away for them (reserves) was to be
      plentiful and would enable them TO live the way they had, before first
      contact. If you think that the Canadian Government has fulfilled the treaty agreements signed originally, you are very misinformed.

  4. That apology could not have come from a worse mouth, he did what he was told, but it was not Heart felt , he did not mean a word he read .. Harper is a disgrace to Canada and if he is even a bit smart he will resign and step down as the leader of this county.

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