The end of a protest

by Aaron Wherry

Amid mixed polling, questions about her health and a report that she was facing an ultimatum, Theresa Spence will be honoured this morning in downtown Ottawa by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and then proceed to a news conference at 11am.

The Liberals have announced that Bob Rae will be at that news conference.

AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo will have a news conference in Vancouver at 3:30pm EST.

Update 10:24am. Chief Spence is reportedly now in hospital and will not attend this morning’s news conference.

Update 10:44am. A statement from Chief Spence.

January 24, 2013, Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples…Chief Theresa Spence and Raymond Robinson have officially ended their hunger strikes today. This announcement comes after a signed declaration of commitment on behalf of Treaty Chiefs, the Assembly First Nations (AFN), the Native Women Association of Canada (NWAC), the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party of Canada in implementing the thirteen point action plan. 

Chief Spence and Mr. Robinson began their hunger strike over six weeks ago to invoke change by petitioning Canada and the Crown to meet with First Nations leaders on a Nation to Nation basis on Treaty Rights and Implementation. 

“We end our hunger strikes with signed commitments from elected First Nations leaders and opposition parties to urgently carry forward our action plan which ensure that our Treaty Rights are recognized, honoured and fully implemented. Furthermore, we are still calling for an immediate meeting with the Crown, Federal and Provincial governments in order to renew and reset this volatile relationship. Indigenous Peoples have lived well below the poverty line in a country that considered one of the wealthiest in the world. We are no longer idle and precedence has been established over this past six weeks. There’s no going back, our voices have be heard and now I ask for your involvement to move our agenda forward,” stated Chief Theresa Spence. 

“I personally want to thank and acknowledge all our supporters this past six weeks for their prayers, encouragement and genuine support during our hunger strikes. Both Raymond and I have taken with us a deep spiritual experience which has lite a fire that will assist us in implementing our vision where First Nation Peoples have equality and can forge their own destiny,” stated Chief Spence. 

The thirteen point declaration includes eight points that the AFN presented during their meeting with Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. The plan highlights a new framework to ensure that Treaty and non-Treaty Rights are recognized and implemented. A commitment towards resource revenue sharing and a comprehensive review and meaningful consultation on Bill C-38 and C-45 to ensure it is consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act. The plan also states that ALL current or future federal legislation has Free, Prior and Informed Consent of First Nation Peoples. 

“Canada has legal obligations as Treaty partners to protect our constitutionally recognized rights. Our Indigenous ancestors promised peaceful co-existence and that spirit and intent remains today. Canada cannot afford to fail and needs to abide by conditions of Treaty. As we seen this past month there is consequences to inaction and our Peoples will never be silenced or go back to status quo…it’s a new day and our Peoples spirits have been awakened,” concluded Chief Spence. 




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The end of a protest

  1. I think the saddest thing about this whole experience is how she has allowed the politico’s to hijack her cause and efforts! This is a classic mistake for any activist who seeks to elevate an issue into the public consciousness and it invariably fails! Time and time again this is played – there is a lesson here in the future for those who seek to really change public policy – do NOT let the oppostion leaders fly in do a smudge and take the photo and sign the meaningless piecew of pare – it’s hypocrisy taken to a whole new level – jusat hold a press conference be honest declare victory and go home! The moment you sell out to others who use your agenda you damage the actual cause that you are promoting – had she been smart and not allowed the oppostion to be involved she and then had she not left the meeting with the GG over some weird little arcane protocol issue she could have held her press conference waved her feathers declared victory and avoided so much of the harm she bought into the IDLE arena. Then there is all this spin that is so obvious untrue it further damages her cause. The end here is because her own band revolted and threatened to end her chiefdom …. no more needs to be said as this describes it all! Maybe this is all for the best as maybe other bands will start revolting against their leadership who are abusing their privileges and the ‘ Transparency Act ‘ which is the real reason so many Chief’s are upset – we can expect more bands rising up .. I think IDLE should look at protesting aginst chiefs in these bands as well maybe if they broadened their target list they could have much more postive outcomes!

    • There was always talk that the Idle No More movement wanted to distance itself from the chiefs. Perhaps the FN’s people are fed up with the corruption and incompetence at the FN leadership level. Maybe that is why the chiefs decended on Ottawa, including Ms. Spence. They didn’t want to seen as part of the problem, which obviously some of them are. It is amazing to me though when you point that out, people call you racist. How can revealling that there is bad managment occuring be racist. Bad managers obviously exist in every race. Is it only appropriate to point out the caucasion ones.

      • Who called you racist for pointing out bad management? If that is all it was – people saying…’ well i dunno about all this my dear, they have to look to their part in all this.’ then there would be far less heat in this topic. Your complaint is pretty sad and one sided, when the vast majority of comments to be seem in MSM are directed at FNs for basically being a bunch of thieving ingrates.

    • Chief Spence is a fraud/embezzler along with her “life partner”.

  2. So she suddenly realized that people were going to be asking her uncomfortable questions at her press conference, so she high tailed it? What a fitting end to this fiasco. For someone who claimed to have wanted to draw attention to her “plight”, she avoided the media at every possible turn after they started asking uncomfortable questions. What an absolute farce.

  3. I am from vancouver and i supports Theresa Spence in her efforts to get rid of the apartheid policy of the canadian gov. toward the native people here.She got the support of the majority of the people and unions in canada contrary to what the media is saying.She also got the support of Amnesty International and the United Nations.Idle No More is a great help in getting the canadian gov. to get rid of Bills C- 45 and C-38.The Black People in the usa during the 1950s and 60s also had to take to the streets to get their freedom.

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