12 ways of thinking about Idle No More - Macleans.ca

12 ways of thinking about Idle No More

Who is saying what about Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike


Globe and Mail, editorial

“Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence should not risk her health with a hunger strike, nor is coercion a reasonable or responsible tool to be used in making a request to meet with the Prime Minister and a representative of the Crown. Ms. Spence’s actions do, however, reveal a depth of desperation over the challenges confronting her struggling first nation that should concern Stephen Harper.”

Am Johal, the First Perspective

“The genie’s out of the bottle. This movement isn’t going away. The Harper government’s downfall will be remembered as one of its own making. Chief Spence, we thank you for your brave and important hunger strike. There is justice at stake here and that affects everyone. Our thoughts are with you and we will be with you every step of the way.”

Ottawa Citizen, editorial

“A national movement devoted to aboriginal rights and welfare is a productive addition to Canada’s politics. Suicide threats are not. Chief Theresa Spence is evidently, and justifiably, frustrated by the situation in Attawapiskat and by the state of the relationship between First Nations and the Canadian government. She says the government is not living up to the Crown’s treaty commitments to aboriginal people. Her decision to stop eating solid food, and to wait on Victoria Island for the government to meet her demands, has helped to galvanize the Idle No More movement. The anger that led her to her hunger strike is understandable. But it’s difficult to see how her actions can lead to anything except more anger.”

James Bartleman, former lieutenant-governor of Ontario

“I’ve long said that native people are the invisible people, and native children in particular are the invisible children of Canadian society. What we need to do is raise the consciousness of the public, and raise the consciousness of the Canadian cabinet, that these are real people. And they suffer.”

Michael Behiels, University of Ottawa professor

“For years, aboriginals have been out of sight, out of mind for most Canadians. We’ve lived in isolation from native people but now there’s no avoiding these issues anymore. And sadly we’re seeing a lot of ignorant and sometimes racist (rhetoric) across the country.”

Lana Payne, The Telegram

Some might call her hunger strike an act of desperation, a desperate act to save her community, her people. But it has become so much more than that. Chief Theresa Spence has inspired her fellow First Nations citizens and so many more to “idle no more.” She has inspired them to dance and drum, to stand up, to speak out and to be one. To be peaceful, to use non-violence, because, in her words, the children are watching. And by mobilizing young people, Chief Theresa Spence has done something great. She has given her people hope.”

Waubageshig, (Harvey McCue), Ottawa Citizen

“Leadership is not about easy choices, it’s usually about difficult decisions. Effective leaders, the ones who make a positive difference for the people they represent, confront difficult decisions every day. They know difficult decisions cannot be avoided, and they know that their effectiveness as leaders depends on them being there to make those difficult decisions. Chief Spence took the difficult decision two weeks ago to put her health and soul on the line for her belief that the Crown and prime minister were ignoring, if not trampling, on her peoples’ treaty and aboriginal rights. Now she must make another equally difficult decision — end her hunger strike and return to Attawapiskat to continue to serve her constituents, to provide them with her capacity for effective and vital leadership, and to comfort and care for her family.”

Christie Blatchford, Postmedia News

“Hunger strikes have a way of reducing complex issues to the most simple elements: Natives are suffering, and Chief Spence, as she has said repeatedly, is prepared to starve herself to death until and unless she gets that meeting with the PM. It is tempting to see the action as one of intimidation, if not terrorism: She is, after all, holding the state hostage to vaguely articulated demands. But if she were to die on Harper’s watch, it would  not only be tragic, but also disastrous.”

Sheila North Wilson, Rabble

“What he should know about Chief Spence’s hunger strike however, is that many First Nations people are moved and they are not only talking about why the government needs to change its attitude about native people but many are also acting to reclaim their place in Canada. To make things right for our families and our future generations. That in essence is what the Idle No More movement and Chief Spence’s hunger strike is all about. To show our united front, many of us are participating in flash mobs and rallies, and these peaceful movements are now happening all over the world. These public protests are helping the world understand some of the main issues and causing people of all cultures to start asking questions about why the Canadian government treats First Nations people with such distain and contempt.”

Patricia Hawes, The Chronicle Herald

“For goodness sake, Prime Minister Harper, please meet with Chief Theresa Spence. Your silence is deafening and heartless! What is the harm of beginning to talk with our First Nations people? They are an integral and valued part of our nation and heritage.”

Robin Brentnall, The Toronto Star

“A good friend has been on a hunger strike for 18 days. Why would a person go on a hunger strike you may ask? What would get that person to stop the hunger strike? The answer, and my wish, is simple: I wish for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet as soon as possible with Theresa Spence, Chief of Attawapiskat, to discuss our First Nations’ concerns. Is that too much to ask?”

Editorial, WFP

“It would be a mistake to dismiss the aboriginal hunger strikes and demonstrations occurring now across Canada as merely the latest in a series of angry outbursts that will disappear as suddenly as they appeared, only to surface again in the future following the next complaint of injustice and violation of rights. It would also be a mistake, however, to presume that the issues are one-sided — that the national government must alone act before equity for Canada’s beleaguered First Nations can be achieved. Aboriginals, too, must also be prepared to consider and propose fundamental reforms that would help lift them out of poverty and despair. It is not enough to simply demand more, without offering a plan for a different way of doing business.”

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