First Nations chiefs contemplate 'breach of treaty' declarations, indefinite economic disruptions

First Nations leaders have discussed plans to launch country-wide economic disruptions by the middle of January if Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t agree to hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s demand for a treaty meeting, APTN National News has learned.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
First Nations leaders have discussed plans to launch country-wide economic disruptions by the middle of January if Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t agree to hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s demand for a treaty meeting, APTN National News has learned.

During three days of meetings and teleconferences, chiefs from across the country discussed a plan setting Jan. 16 as the day to launch a campaign of indefinite economic disruptions, including railway and highway blockades, according to two chiefs who were involved in the talks who requested anonymity.

“The people are restless, they are saying enough is enough,” said one chief, who was involved in the discussions. “Economic impacts are imminent if there is no response.”

Chiefs were still finalizing details of their plans Monday evening and it remained unclear to what extent their discussed options would translate into the official position.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo is expected to write Harper a letter outlining the chiefs’ position.

Spence launched her hunger strike on Dec. 11 to force a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General David Johnston and First Nations leaders to discuss the state of the treaties. Spence said in a statement issued Monday that the aim of the meeting was to “re-establish” the treaty relationship and finally put First Nations people in their “rightful place back here in our homelands that we all call Canada.”

The plan of action comes as the Idle No More movement continues to sweep across the country through round dances, rallies along with highway and rail blockades.

The Tyendinaga Mohawks briefly blockaded a main CN rail line between Toronto and Montreal Sunday, stranding about 2,000 Via Rail passengers. The Mi’kmaq from the Listuguj First Nation, Que., continue to hold a rail blockade on a CN line along with members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation who have shut a CN line in Sarnia, Ont. In British Columbia, the Seton Lake Indian Band ended a rail blockade on Sunday.

How the chiefs’ action plan will mesh with the Idle No More movement remains to be seen. Idle No More organizers issued a statement Monday that distanced the movement from the chiefs.

“The chiefs have called for action and anyone who chooses can join with them, however, this is not part of the Idle No More movement as the vision of this grassroots movement does not coincide with the visions of the leadership,” said the statement, posted on the Idle No More Facebook page. “While we appreciate the individual support we have received from chiefs and councillors, we have been given a clear mandate by the grassroots to work outside the systems of government and that is what we will continue to do.”

One of the chiefs involved in action plan discussion said the leadership wanted to be sensitive to the grassroots-driven movement and make clear that their plans are being developed in support and as a response to Idle No More.

“Chiefs are standing firm in support of Idle No More and grassroots citizens,” said the chief. “We now need to unify.”

The meetings and teleconferences included between 50 to 60 chiefs from British Columbia to the Maritimes, according to the sources.

During the discussions, some First Nations leaders suggested individual communities and treaty regions issue “breach of treaty” declarations beginning Jan. 1 and leading up to Jan. 16. Aside from blockades, chiefs discussed stepping up rallies at MP’s offices, continuing letter campaigns and launching Twitter bombs.

“All we are doing is reasserting our own sovereign right and inherent right within this treaty,” said a second chief, who was also involved in the discussions. “The time has come that they need to see we are a sovereign entity, we have and always will be because of the relationship of treaty that was entered into by the Crown and numerous nations.”

There are also plans to hold ceremonies and vigils in Ottawa between Jan. 10 and 13 in support of Spence, who entered into day 21 of her hunger strike on New Year’s Eve.

“Those are going to be in response, either to a response from the prime minister, or to prepare for a potential and imminent impact on Canada’s economy as a result,” said one of the chiefs.

The chief, however, stressed that the leadership is taking their direction from grassroots citizens who are tired of the state of things.

“Our people are growing frustrated, they are tired of the impoverished conditions and mining companies coming to our treaty territories to take what is left,” said the chief. “What we are now seeing is our grassroots citizens are saying enough is enough.”

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51 thoughts on “First Nations chiefs contemplate 'breach of treaty' declarations, indefinite economic disruptions

  1. Should corporates televised the real story, all of Canada will understand. CTV, CBC, CNN would find us at the negotiating tables instead of being in the streets.We are not looking for sympathy, we are looking for justice.

  2. 800 or more Treaty First Nations has to meet with the Queen or her GG. They have to pressure her to account for the 40% of Treaty monies plus interest. We all know what she is doing with the 60% plus interest for hereslf.

  3. This protest is all about the treaties. Everything the First Nations do is about the treaties. As for who will speak for us. Well we have an Assembly of First Nations, we have our provincial chief leaderships, we have our band chiefs like Chief Spence. Everyone needs to pull together to have one voice. The fulfillment of the treaties and nation to nation consultation is realistic. Both are in our consitution. Just needs to be implemented.

  4. If Theresa Spence dies, harper will not find a rock low enough to slither under.
    Live or die, harper will pay dearly for his inbred stupidity.

  5. You’re missing the point. The government systematically and habitually is breaking treaties. We; the UN and other nations would and do impose economic, medical and technological sanctions and penalties to other countries who do not honour treaties. First nations people and our leadership have not even begun to exercise our rights as a sovereign nation to combat the continuous violations of treaties. Trust me when I tell you had first nations peoples not made these treaties; the face of north America would be very different today. The irony of the idle no more movement is intentional. The government continues to neglect treaties and environmental agreements put forth affecting our ability to live and feed our families. Maybe when enough people are affeveted as the first nations people are you may understand better. Maybe when you can’t feed your children or provide clean water for them you will understand.

  6. Blackmail is never acceptable. Time to end the Indian Act and apartheid. Full and equal status for ALL Canadians. No more race based preferential treatment.

  7. What nonsense. Does any interest group who doesn’t receive a meeting with whichever government official they want get to harm the œconomy, disrupt the lives of regular people and spout off in public? The era of blockades, partitioning and pouting are done. Propose plans that make sense in the current environment, and move from there. Stop stifling dissent, learn and adapt to current situations and pitch to the country that you have reasonable ideas that resonate with all Canadians.

    1. To call aboriginal peoples an interest group is like calling the provinces an interest group.
      They and their rights are recognized in the Constitution.

      Governments’ ongoing efforts to extinguish and undermine their land and resource rights rather than acknowledge them is a much greater harm to the economy and harm the lives of far more people.

      One plan the governments could undertake is to share public resource revenues fairly with aboriginal people’s. It’s already being done with the Cree in Quebec


    So we have ‘protestors’ sitting around (idle) who decide to sit around together (idle) on a railway track – which stops trains which causes workers to be unemployed (idle).

    The workers are then forced to sit around (idle)– which means they can’t earn income to be taxed, some of which is ‘redistributed’ to the protestors who need groceries to sustain themselves while they sit around (idle).

    Then leaders, who don’t want to usurp the protestor’s leadership, plot further interference with the economy to create even more workers sitting around (idle).

    And the demonstrators name their protest “idle no more”?

    1. Small mind, pick 1 word to suit your thinking. I guess your handle
      ( ABITPARANOID) does fit your mentality or maybe change that to
      ( ALOTPARANOID). We’re dealing people’s lives and the life of the environment here. This is not about being idle it’s about life for everyone and mother earth. The sooner you and the rest of the Nay Sayers grasp this the healthier the earth and everyone’s lives will be. Maybe read Bill C45. “IDLE NO MORE” STAY STRONG PEOPLE

    2. Ya…maybe they should have called it Idle Forever More.
      Impeding other Canadians is NOT the way to garner their support. You may find this backfiring in your face in a most unpleasant manner.
      Idle On bros….

      1. If it backfires it backfires on all Canadians due to the people standing idly by watching the Harper Government destroy Canada and it’s resources.
        Maybe you should read all the contents of the Omnibus Bill?

    3. Hey ABITPARANOID, you focus on 1 word, we are not Idle. We standing up for what we believe in. It is that narrow way of thinking and greed that has devastated lives and the environment. Try thinking with an open mind and an open heart. Are you Afraid that aboriginal peoples will positively impact their lives and the lives of other people in our society and Mother Earth? Are you Afraid that this will make them a stronger society? We are very knowledgeable people and we know when their are threatening developments that will NEGATIVLY IMPACT THE PEOPLE’S OF THIS LAND AND MOTHER EARTH.
      Walk Softly. Ekosi

  9. Herein lies the problem. Who actually speaks for all of the aboriginal community. We have the leadership saying one thing, individual chiefs saying another, grass roots movement saying something else and they agree on little. So how in the world is a federal government going to find common ground in resolving the issues. It seems we keep going around in circles with little being accomplished. It’s ridiculous and one of these days the aboriginal leadership is going to have to wake up and smell the coffee.

    There is little sympathy among the general public for aboriginals. That may be unfair but blockading and disrupting the lives of ordinary Canadians is not going to help generate the sympathy that Chief Spence and others are looking for.

    The demands need to be realistic, understandable and based on reality.

    1. That is exactly the problem … with whom does the government speak? The National Chief? The regional organizations? each individual one of the 630+ nations? This is an untenable request … no government can work under these requirements. If this is a nation to nation issue, then the First Nations “nation” has to be defined first, so that Canada knows with whom they are expected to deal.

      1. There is a rule of law. Without the rule of law, many will take this as a sign to act in a aggressively more dangerous manner until there is open warfare on the streets between the two sides.
        Jail everyone who acts in an unlawful manner and send the message that change is done through the legislatures only.

        1. so what do we do when the Government of Canada is acting outside of treaty laws, that they signed to? throw them all in jail too?

          how about when Dow Chemical knowingly dumps Dioxin, a known Cancer causing agent, into our waterways? off to jail?

          what is going to happen to all the parties involved in passing FIPA through the house while breaching Treaty obligations the Government of Canada had agreed to honour and signed to accordingly? is there law surrounding breaching state agreements? good thing they made sure any future lawsuits would have to be filed under anonymity… wouldn’t want to hear about tax dollars tied up in that.

          how long would you bare with the wheels of justice if you believed you had been legally wronged? the first official petition filed by the First Nations regarding the Haldimand land tract (Caledonia or Grand River Territory) was in 1843. a century and a half ago. the Government of Canada has so much as stated that the Simcoe document governs the legality of ownership if the land yet to this day has done nothing to settle the dispute. 150 years later, would you, or in this case you descendants, not lose faith in the bargaining or legal system?

          in 1812, while the British were at war with the bulk of their resources in France, it was Issac Brock and his army of Indigienous nations that both defended this country you call Canada and even went so far as capturing Detroit. In return for this service the First Nations were promised ‘support for development, security, an Indian Territory and recognized tribal sovereignty. it was just shy of 50 years later that the petitions from the First Nations communities began to appear for breach of contract.

          this is not a binary problem as you two would like to think it is. the reason we live in a nation called Canada today, and are not part of the Republic to the south is partly due to our First Nations brothers and sisters. the same brothers and sisters who have trusted our institutions of justice for almost 2 centuries only to have them betray them in the end.

          if you think the protection and honouring of law must be ensured at all cost then i suppose i will see you out protesting soon?

          1. Specific example of “outside the treaty laws”. Not an argument without fact.

            Yes, if someone is intentionally polluting, off to jail. Each province has strict laws and guidelines and in some cases go beyond what the Feds have on the books. That is fact, as I interact with these agencies.

            Again, what breach? Exactly.

            The land in the Caledonia dispute belongs to the province of Ontario, and negotiations continue.

            Natives has a role in the war, but don’t go too far into the “saved us from the Yanks” narrative.

            No, I don’t protest. I vote to have my wishes enacted into law, then enforced by those paid to do so. That appears to be the aspect of this conversation that is lost by many on your side of the issue as well as the police services who are knowingly allowing laws to be broken. Their leadership must be held accountable for these transgressions.

        2. If we have to jail people for unlawful actions then there goes most of the government, no? They breached legislation and placed them selves above the rule of law. There is a lack of objectivity on this topic when a solid discussion covers both sides.

        3. But so far, our OPP and others have stood by and watched them break laws. At Caladonia, the only one arrested was a white guy protesting peacefully!

    1. Jailing that many people will cost you more tax money than what you have been paying now. The whole prison system is overrated and does nothing to benefit the society at large, in fact it puts us more in debt. On average, for one person it costs on average $130,000 per year for one person. The quickest fix can be the most costly in the long run.

  10. It is only fair to recognize the grassroots have galvanized the action of awakening the injustice of the Harper government in it’s zeal to sell the country to the highest bidder. Now is the time for the Chiefs and Nations to reassert the treaty agreements, and move to put sufficent power on the Government of Canada to comply. The lip service which has gone on regarding dealing with first nations on a nation by nation basis, must be stopped. It has reached a burning point. Harper will inherent the legacy, to whit, the turmiol this will bring as a confrontation, by not talking, and acting in good gaith. Pandering should be DONE.

  11. Now if the unions would call a general strike to add their weight to this, combined with strategic blockades of major highways and railways, the entire Canadian economy could be paralyzed, which would bring down any government, and anything that can get Harper out of power is what needs to happen.

    1. Canada is a democratic country where we have elections to change governments
      We are not Syria or Libya. YOU people are a bunch of anarchist you are just mad that you did not get your way. The next election is in 2 years just vote him out and do not destroy the economy of Canada with your strike and blockades

  12. Harper is a dictator! He has violated the democractic and legal processes by unilaterally lumping all different types of legislation into one bill and several other smaller bills. He rammed them through parliament and the Senate. Bill C-45 along with other bills aimed at natives and non natives alike became law without proper and full consultation with the people. These laws directly impact the grassroots people and he abused his power just to make sure big business/industry gets its oil to the south. You will have a fight when it comes to ramming their oil pipes across First Nation territory.

  13. A meeting with Harper is a waste of time. You’ll have to wait until the next government comes in because Harper will not deal with this and will give nothing. It’s completely against his beliefs and even though I don’t like his politics I believe that he actually believes in the shit he stands for. That’s dangerous because that means he will be willing to go to bat for it and in this case it just turns out bad for all of Canada.

  14. This Canadian is with you. I agree with Mike Beadow below. It’s time to ask for the help of Canadians. Environmental groups share your interests, Liberals and NDP are outraged as well and have both expressed support for Idle No More. Only 39% of Canadians voted for Harper and some are admiting they regret it. C38 C45 impacts all of us. Please do not leave us out of this fight because it is a fight that none of us can risk losing.

    1. I agree i will support firs nation,bybyby harper u have to go.u r no good 4 the canadians and u don’t care either u r a big FAT LIER go a way we don’ need ur service any longer and don’t let the door slam ur big fat ass jerk i don’t like u

  15. Absolutely, fight fire with fire, throw every blockade, any dance and ceremony and any legal rights we have square in the middle of any attempts of economic gain. We, as Sovereign Nations will stand by and support “Idol No More.”.

  16. I’m not First Nations and I agree with your stand…..
    The only thing I don’t understand is why wait?
    As far as I am concerned we should start Jan. 2 because this government won’t understand anything unless it hurts the Corporate bottom line. It is time to ask for support from Canadians to lay down their tools and prorogue work. Governments in this Country have prorogued Parliaments for less important reasons. We should see that Harper and his gang of thieves, and the 1% do not share in our labour. We should see that we provide for each other but not turn a profit for the Corporate Beast. Cut them off from our labour and our source power.
    I’d like to see them figure out how to fuel their car, take a plane, feed themselves or run their mines and factories if we are not there to do it for them…………
    We will survive Brothers be cause we will provide for each other and stay out till all Omnibus Bills have been recalled.

    1. Most of the major unions have written letters of support but they have to do more in the next few months. If they don’t get that this calls for a General Strike we are probably screwed. I don’t think First Nations can win this alone. They shouldn’t fight alone – this is a disaster for all of us. I’m afraid that waiting to 2015 to get rid of Harper is too long to much damage, possibly irreversible will have been done by then.

      1. Yes and the Liberals for those 13 long years did so much for the aboriginal community. It has nothing to do with Harper. It has to do with the aboriginal leadership which cannot speak with one voice and get their collective acts together. The problems are not just about money.

  17. There really is only one person who can unite the AFN as National Chief and idleNomore. What the hell were the Chief’s thinking back then?

  18. Nation to Nation written, bound and Preserved in Our Treaty…There definately is a breach…According to the Intenational Law…!

  19. The only letter Shawn should be sending right now is a letter to the AFN resigning as National Chief (clearly a wonderful peace chief but this government wants war).

    1. It’s funny you would say such a thing when it has always been the PC government pulling out the army and authorities in non-violent protests against the Native people.

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