From earlier on the site, 12 ways of thinking about Idle No More.
For more on Idle No More, click here.
Now a sampling of the latest commentary on Chief Theresa Spence, the hunger strike and Idle No More:
“Spence is among a very small group of people who have won a staring contest with Harper, whose cussedness is normally a source of strength. In this case, though, he met his match.”
“Although it is a bit awkward to point out, the photos I have seen of Chief Spence do not show her looking quite so gaunt and sickly, the shadow of her former self that three weeks on water alone would have produced.
“In fact, I distinctly remember how impressed I was when I read — in one of the many low-carb books I’ve digested over the years in the service of my own (admittedly less well-publicized and politically oriented) dietary experiments — that a couple of scientists went way up north to live for a year, determined to eat nothing but a traditional aboriginal diet (absolutely no carbs, only fish, seal and caribou or whatever) so they could assess their health on their return. When they came back, lean and fit and vigorous, they had tests that showed their cholesterol and blood pressure were at optimum levels.
“In other words: What Chief Spence seems to be on is more like a detox ‘diet’ than a fast.”
“During Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, many Canadians have taken to online forums, message boards and dinner tables to wonder what she and her people are after. In response to her actions, Canadians have taken up the classic liberal narrative to challenge her attempt to bring the plight of her people to the public’s attention and to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to find a solution to their suffering. And while some of the commentary has simply been racist, the dominant narrative overtone remains philosophically liberal. No surprise.”
“First thing’s first: I don’t think Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is going to starve to death. That will not be how this story ends — the end will be a meeting between Stephen Harper and Spence, just as she has requested. The Prime Minister is certainly stubborn — that can be the only reason he hasn’t responded to her yet — but he surely knows a dead First Nations chief would not make for good PR. He will accede to her demands. He has no other choice.”
“Whatever the fate of the Idle No More movement, there’s every reason for Harper to engage with Atleo, the AFN and other aboriginal representatives. The prime minister isn’t going to achieve meaningful reforms to the Indian Act, the reserve system, and other issues such as First Nations’ health and education, without the stakeholders in the room.”
“I disagree that we are now a ‘Swagger nation’ and I agree with Conrad Black that ‘Canada can do better.’ For Canada can’t possibly have its swagger on when a First Nations woman leader is entering her third week of a hunger strike and is sleeping in a teepee just a short distance from our Prime Minster, who refuses to speak with her. Canada can’t possibly feel good about the Third World-living conditions of aboriginal youth and of a government that provides First Nations child welfare agencies 22 per cent less than provincial governments supply to Children’s Aid Societies. And Canadians surely can’t feel a swagger coming on when Ottawa provides at least $3,500 less a year for each First Nation student who attends a reserve school than the per-student norm paid by provinces.”
“The Assembly of First Nations, which so often speaks for the entire community, in fact is an organization elected by and representing interests of the elected chiefs more than those of grassroots natives, who are without voting rights for the head of the organization. As B.C.-based Ojibway author Richard Wagamese has written: ‘To be a First Nations person in Canada is to be rendered voiceless by the very organization that purports to represent you.’ For the government’s part, it should be doing a more professional job of managing an obviously troubled relationship with this historically and politically important constituency in Canada.”
“The Idle No More movement has the potential to radicalize a generation, in part because no one in the Harper government is making the case that it is not engaged in a ‘termination plan’ — the allegation made in a video released by veteran native policy advisor Russell Diabo. He claims the government’s legislative agenda is designed to assimilate native Canadians through the imposition of nefarious laws like the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
“Yet the status quo isn’t working. Everyone is agreed on that.”
“Chief Theresa Spence, who was previously best known for declaring states of emergency — arguably rooted in her own mismanagement — at her Attawapiskat reserve, is suddenly being treated as some combination of Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi. Celebrity moths, bleeding hearts and clamberers up the greasy political pole have sought to invest her ‘hunger strike,’ which is now into its fourth week, with noble purpose.
“In fact, her initial threat to starve herself to death failing a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston suggested either a bizarre degree of narcissism, or revealed her as a witless puppet. Perhaps both.”
“Spence’s hunger strike and the Idle No More movement concern all Canadians. They signify demands for the government’s accountability, the clarity and fairness of the laws and the efficiency and independence of the process by which justice is delivered. Attempts should be made to resolve the outstanding aboriginal issues and other high-profile human rights cases through negotiated settlements by staying away from courtrooms and pricey government lawyers controlled by Canada’s rampant bureaucracy.”
“Apart from Spence’s inexcusable blackmailing of the prime minister, it’s evident she’s unreasonable. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has expressed a willingness to meet with Spence, but he’s been rebuffed. Surely, a personal meeting with the senior member of cabinet tasked with managing the Crown’s relationship with First Nations would have been a good place for Spence to start. Spence could have added detail to her demands and concerns.”
“The Idle No More movement — if left unattended — could snowball into the biggest challenge Harper has encountered since he was first elected as prime minister seven years ago this month.”
Friday, January 4, 2013