Harper Forced to Concede to Meeting with Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence

9 Jan

statement from the Marxist Leninist paper

Harper Forced to Concede to Meeting with
Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence

TML sends militant greetings to Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence and all First Nations people who are courageously demanding, once again, that their hereditary, constitutional and treaty rights be upheld. Canada has no right — moral, legal or any other — to trample the rights of anyone in the mud, let alone those of First Nations on whose land Canada is built and depends.

The groundswell of popular support across the country for Chief Spence and the just demands of the First Nations has forced Prime Minister Stephen Harper to back off from his arrogant colonial refusal to meet with her. Chief Spence, on a hunger strike to back up her demand for a nation-to-nation meeting with Harper and a representative of the Crown to discuss affirmation of First Nations’ rights and urgent issues facing First Nations communities, and the support for her courageous stand, have had a stunning effect. On the twenty-fifth day of the hunger strike, Harper announced that he would meet with First Nations Chiefs, including Chief Spence, for talks on January 11.

Chief Theresa Spence (centre) with supporters.

Chief Spence began her hunger strike on December 11 as part of a National Day of Action for First Nations’ rights organized by Idle No More. Chief Spence’s demands and her hunger strike have become a rallying point for the powerful upsurge in the struggle among First Nations peoples and Canadians from coast to coast to coast for their rights and to call for the repeal of Bill C-45, the second Harper omnibus bill which hands over all public assets to private interests and includes several laws attacking the hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights of First Nations. People from every political trend and from a broad range of social, civic and cultural organizations have met with Chief Spence during her hunger strike and have urged Harper to meet with her.

Harper and his government have become isolated due to their colonial refusal to meet with Chief Spence. Harper’s agreement to a meeting must not be a mere attempt at damage control. Chief Spence is continuing her hunger strike until the meeting with Harper actually takes place and the essence of the demands for recognition of First Nations’ rights is recognized.
Put Pressure on Harper, Not Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence

Chief Spence started her hunger strike on December 11 as part of the militant actions taken by First Nations and their allies across Canada, launched by the organization Idle No More to demand a meeting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Crown and First Nations leaders. She called this meeting for the purpose of addressing the criminal neglect by the Canadian state regarding its duty to First Nations and its undermining of First Nations’ hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights. She said at the onset of her hunger strike that she was prepared to die for her people if need be to press this demand.

Throughout her hunger strike, Chief Spence called on Canadians and First Nations people to continue to organize rallies, stage ceremonies and hold other protest actions to demand that Prime Minister Harper and Governor General David Johnston meet with her and other First Nations leaders. Many communities across Canada have responded. For example, over 200 First Nations people in Nova Scotia, including many youth, have joined in a four-day hunger strike in support of Chief Spence. A group of First Nations protestors and their supporters from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ontario blockaded a CN rail line leading to several chemical plants for two weeks to raise their own demands as well as to pressure Harper to meet with Chief Spence. In addition, two elders, Raymond Robinson from the Cross Lake First Nation and Gene Sock, a Mi’kmaq, have joined Chief Spence in her hunger strike.

While Chief Spence continues to receive overwhelming support from First Nations people and Canadians across the country, the state and its media have organized to divert from the substantive issues. Claiming to be humanitarian, some put pressure on Chief Spence to give up, while others engage in more blatant attempts to split the movement for First Nations’ rights.

On December 30, Chief Spence held an Open House at her teepee on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River facing Parliament. Over 20 MPs and many supporters and visitors, including former Prime Minister Joe Clark, came to call on her. Not a few MPs, such as NDP MP Craig Scott, tried to talk her into giving up her hunger strike, citing her weakened state of health, and suggesting her “point has been made.” Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and other federal ministers have also put pressure on the Chief to accept a meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan instead of a meeting with Harper, a proposal which she rejected outright.

The monopoly media made particularly wretched efforts to criminalize Chief Spence’s action to divert from the Canadian state’s history of crimes committed and being committed against First Nations. The December 28 editorial in the Globe and Mail suggested that Chief Spence is using “coercion” through her hunger strike to meet with Harper. The editorial described this as “inappropriate” and said the Chief should meet with Minister Duncan, thereby dismissing the principle of nation-to-nation negotiations. The editorial ends with the mindboggling statement that Harper could “make a magnanimous gesture [to Chief Spence]. He has already shown he is a friend of aboriginal peoples.” Only the pundits of the Globe’s editorial team can make such a statement when this “friend” of the aboriginal people is leading the racist Canadian state in extinguishing First Nations’ historical treaty and hereditary rights and trying to wipe them out as peoples. In the same racist vein, a signed article in the National Post goes so far as to suggest that Chief Spence is a “terrorist” holding the Canadian people hostage. Both these newspapers say that First Nations people in Canada are living in the past if they think that the Historical Treaties signed in good faith with the Crown by their ancestors have any relevance now.

TML denounces the Canadian state and its monopoly media for trying to dissuade Chief Spence and for trying to criminalize her for her courageous action. The demand for nation-to-nation meetings to affirm First Nations’ hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights is just. TML calls on all its readers to lend a hand to make sure this defiant stand prevails.

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2 Responses to “Harper Forced to Concede to Meeting with Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence”

  1. doug January 10, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    So the Governor General won’t be at the meeting so the Chief calls it off?? WTF..All the antics to get a meeting and then SHE won’t attend!! I guess it’s a good way for her to try and save some face after the damming audits and other negative reports showed her true colors these last few days.

  2. alan January 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Let’s not forget who hands out the money and who is ultimately responsible for its’ proper expenditure, namely the federal government. Also who exactly hasn’t said boo about high council and chief salaries until now? I’m waiting for this audit which shows pretty awful bookeeping to go to the next step. Is it merely awful bookeeping or is there misappropriation or theft? If so then our federal government has the responsibility to lay criminal charges. No criminal charges and I am going to suspect this audit is Mr. Harper’s red herring to distract attention away from legitimate native grievances.

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