ATTAWAPISKAT, ON – 11 December 2012. Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation began a hunger strike today in protest of continuing governmental abuses against First Nations. Chief Spence stated: “Canada is violating the right of Indigenous peoples to be self-determining and continues to ignore our constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights in their lands, waters, and resources.”
Chief Spence is profoundly concerned with the hostile and adversarial approach of the Federal Government which is characterized by an intimidating and unilateral approach to working First Nations. Instead of being an advocate of First Nations, the Minister’s office is used to mislead the public about the facts of First Nation social realities and often deflects responsibility by casting blame on First Nations themselves.
First Nations are already severely and chronically underfunded on basic essential services like housing, water, food and education. These discriminatory practices have led to the current poverty crisis which impacts many First Nations which often suffer from multiple over-lapping crises in housing, water, sanitation, food insecurity, health and education.
Attawapiskat First Nation previously declared a State of Emergency in housing as some of their members were living in unheated sheds. Instead of offering assistance, Canada illegally placed the community into third-party management despite there being no problems with their audits. Shortly after the court case confirming Canada’s illegal actions, their proposal for housing was denied, leaving many community members without homes this winter.
Canada has since embarked on an aggressive, assimilatory legislative agenda without having first consulted, accommodated and obtained the consent of First Nations as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Further, Canada has attempted to silence First Nation voices by cutting essential funding at both the organizational and community levels. This is not what was envisioned in the treaty relationship.
Chief Spence feels that this backwards approach is not only poisoning Canada’s relationship with First Nations, but will irrevocably destroy the lands and waters that all Canadians need for sustainability and balance. Canada’s actions against First Nations will impact the future generations of all Canadians. She feels that Canada must withdraw the recent suite of legislation being imposed without First Nation consent and reverse its decision to cut funding to First Nation organizations and communities.
Chief Spence is encouraging First Nation leaders to support her on this hunger strike. She will remain on this hunger strike until both Her Majesty the Queen and the Canadian government agree to meet with First Nation leaders and engage in meaningful dialogue on our rights.
Attawapiskat First Nation is a remote, isolated First Nation in North Eastern Ontario, whose traditional territory includes lands around the Attawapiskat and Ekwan river systems in Northern Ontario. They form part of the Cree Nation and are affiliated with the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council.
Attawapiskat First Nation comprises 3,429 band members with approximately 1,800 on-reserve members. Chief Spence also sent an open letter to her membership yesterday (which is attached).
For further information, please contact Chief Theresa Spence (807) 629-6704), or by email to Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exclusive CBC interview on 8th day of hunger strike (Dec 18th) – 17min:
This Tuesday, November 27th, communities from coast to coast are taking action in solidarity with the Unis’tot’en and grassroots Wet’suwet’en, to reaffirm and amplify the message that no proposed pipelines will proceed on their territories!
No to PTP! No to all pipelines on Unis’tot’en land!
On November 20th, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Toghestiy intercepted and issued an eagle feather to surveyors from the Can-Am Geomatics company who were working for Apache’s proposed natural gas Pacific Trails Pipeline (PTP). In Wet’suwet’en law, an eagle feather is used as a first and only notice of trespass. The surveyors were ordered to leave the territory and the road leading into the territory has been closed to all industry activities. The Unist’ot’en are against all pipelines slated to cross through their territories, which include Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgans northern proposal, Pembina, Spectra, and Pacific Trails Pipelines.
The Unis’tot’en are now calling for solidarity and support actions to get the message out loud and clear to corporations, investors, and government that they have no right or jurisdiction to approve development on Unist’ot’en lands.
So this Tuesday, November 27th, on unceded Algonquin territory, join in solidarity and resistance with Unist’ot’en in front of the PMO (Wellington and Elgin). Let’s tell them that we support Unist’ot’en and grassroots Wet’suwet’en and say no to all pipelines slated for their territories!
Bring banners, signs, noisemakers to make our voices loud and clear and reaffirm our solidarity with Unis’tot’en!
Invite friends and allies and help spread the word!
Let us know asap if you can help support and organize:
email stan.kupferschmidt at gmail.com or lena at lena.ca
Event hosted by: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement of Ottawa (IPSMO), MiningWatch Canada and the Friends Service Committee of Ottawa.
Canadian Mining and Indigenous Self-Determination: Perspectives from Panama and Ontario
Tuesday September 25th, 7pm to 9:30pm
University of Ottawa, Desmarais Building, Room 1110 55 Laurier Ave E.
Celestino Mariano Gallardo Gallardo is Chief of the Nidrini region of the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé comarca, or special admininstrative area, in Panama. In 2011, in the wake of violent repression and after years of struggle, the Ngäbe-Buglé won a law to protect their comarca and Cerro Colorado in Western Panama from mining development. Celestino will talk about their struggle and Canadian industry involvement as a catalyst of conflict.
Robert Lovelace is an adjunct lecturer at Queen’s University in the Department of Global Development Studies, an activist in anti-colonial struggles and a retired chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation. He lives in the Algonquin highlands at Eel Lake in the traditional Ardoch territory, has travelled to Ecuador and Bolivia, and speaks widely about the impacts of Canadian mining on Indigenous peoples.
Event presented by MiningWatch Canada, Territorio Libre, the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) and the Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) and the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa
The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) is inviting you to the launch of its Honouring Indigenous Women Campaign and its Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nations – Vol. 1 booklet!
7 – 9 PM. Monday, March 19, 2012 Arts Court Studio, 2 Daly Ave. Ottawa Unceded Algonquin Territory
Join us for a night of poetry, drumming and more, in celebration of the Power of Indigenous Women and their Special Relationship to Water!
Opening ceremony and women’s teaching by Verna McGregor (Algonquin) and Elaine Kicknosway (Swampy Cree from Northern Saskatchewan)
Ruby Arnga-naaq (Inuit)
Earth Mothers women drumming group
Water teaching by Grandmother Francine Payer
Vera Wabegijig (Ojibwe),
Suzanne Keeptwo (Métis – Algonquin/French & Irish descent),
Jaime Koebel (Métis),
David Groulx (Ojibwe/Métis)
* There will be items made by Indigenous peoples for sale at this event.
About our campaign:
Our Honouring Indigenous Women Campaign aims at raising awareness on and putting an end to the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women. As a group mostly composed of non-Indigenous peoples who have participated or been complicit in the past and present colonization of Native peoples and lands, it is of utmost importance for us to support the work of Indigenous peoples in this regard. This campaign is an act of solidarity, and aims at supporting existing efforts from Indigenous women. As such, we are hoping to mobilize over 500 people to take part in the annual Families of Sisters in Spirit Vigilorganized in Ottawa on October 4th.
This campaign also aims at understanding the links between violence against Indigenous women, colonialism, land and Indigenous Sovereignty. We echo the demands for equity, justice, and decolonizationformulated by Indigenous women whom we have tremendous respect for.
We support self-determination of Indigenous peoples and work towards creating and maintaining respectful relationships with the First peoples of this land.
The campaign would not be as strong without the publication of the Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nation-Vol. 1 . The booklet, composed of five sections – Struggle, Resistance, Power, Liberation, and Be Solidarity, gives to Indigenous women their due space to express their lived realities through various art forms. Through this publication, we strive to augment the voices of Indigenous women in their many efforts to break the silence surrounding the systemic violence perpetuated by colonialism. It is, for us, a concrete and creative form of solidarity.
As a wise woman told us, we cannot achieve the ethic of respect by formulating demands, we will clearly state our hopes and expectations for this campaign and beyond, as well as announce our upcoming projects at our March 19th event. Stay tune!
In April 2010, the Minister of Indian Affairs imposed a foreign system of governance (Indian Act electoral system) on the Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake to avoid honouring the signed agreements and recognizing legitimate leadership.
At 10 am, on Tuesday, Jan. 24 as the Crown and First Nations leaderships gathered at the old Ottawa City Hall, come out to join Barriere Lake Algonquins at a rally in front of the meeting place to show your solidarity and demand CANADIAN government:
REVOKE SECTION 74 OF INDIAN ACT! RECOGNIZE BARRIERE LAKE’s CUSTOMARY CHIEF AND COUNCIL! RESPECT BARRIERE LAKE’S SOVEREIGNTY AND SELF-DETERMINATION!
10 am Old City Hall, 111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, unceded Algonquin Territory.
In a harsh and regressive display of colonial paternalism, the Canadian government has used the acute housing crisis in Attawapiskat, a Northern Ontario Cree First Nation, to deny the community’s inherent right to handle its own affairs. The Federal government has done this by imposing Third Party Management (TPM), seizing complete control of all the community’s financial decisions for programs and services on the reserve. TPM is the most extreme and intrusive step the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) can impose financially on a First Nation community. It is a shameful act of colonialism — one imposed on at least 10 other First Nations communities in Canada. The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake whom IPSMO have been supporting for over three years is also under Third-Party Management.
Denial: The Oppressive Shape of Canadian Colonialism Today
Instead of providing immediate support for Attawapiskat to overcome their inhuman living conditions, the Harper government insinuated that the problem was due to financial mismanagement by the band council and imposed TPM. By doing so he blamed the victims, denied his responsibility and ignored the urgent needs of the people. He knows that to accept responsibility and act for Attawapiskat would mean accepting responsibility for many other similar situations in Canada.
We need to remember how long it has taken, and continues to take, for the government to accept responsibility for the horror of residential schools. The response of the Minister to the situation of Attawapiskat and other First Nations is similar in its pattern of denial.
Attawapiskat First Nation (Treaty 9, Ontario) is not the only community suffering from housing crises and other dire living conditions including lack of clean running water, sanitation services, electricity and health care. Many other communities such as Pikangikum (Treaty 5, Ontario), Kashechewan (Treaty 9, Ontario), Sandy Bay (Treaty 1, Manitoba), and Kwicksutaineuk-Ah-kwa-mish (BC) are also in the same predicament as Attawapiskat. This has been going on for years and the list of communities could be expanded.
Why do the First Nations communities live in such dire conditions in a country that is rich in natural resources and whose human development index is ranked No. 6 in the world in 2011?
The answers are simple.
The root causes behind the crises facing Attawapiskat and many other First Nations communities across Canada, and their treatments from both the federal and provincial governments might seem complex, however, they can be traced to a few important points:
Racism. The original peoples of this land have been treated as they do not seem to exist when making decisions on the use of their home territory. Their existence as peoples, as part of the lands, have not been respected.
Canada’s continuous colonial policies of dispossession and exploitation of native lands, as well as assimilation, displacement and genocide of native communities.
Dishonour of the Crown, Canada and Provinces in the signed nation-to-nation treaties and agreements.
Canada’s ”Indian” policy is all about the wresting control of the land and its valuable “resources” from the land. How can you take the Land? The following two articles explain it.
But there are reasons behind this suffering. There is a history. There is a structure to oppression, denial and indifference that houses this suffering and there is a system that perpetuates it. – Robert Lovelace
The solution to the problem of First Nations psychological and financial dependency on the state caused by colonialism is the return of land to First Nations and the re-establishment of First Nations presences on and connections to their homelands. – Taiaiake Alfred
Overview – What have been going on?
On October 28, Theresa Spence, the chief of Attiwapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency due to a chronic, systemic housing crisis and poor living conditions in the community. About 300 families and 90 people on this Northern Ontario reserve are living in makeshift housing such as unheated tents, sheds, and trailers, many with no running water, heat, plumbing or electricity. Many of the houses in the community are infested with mold. The medical workers there say peoples’ lives are at risk from the coming winter cold and health problems, such as infectious diseases, scabies, lice, respiratory problems and acute depression, associated with the crowded, unsanitary living conditions. Substance abuse and suicide often follow.
The chief estimated at least 268 new houses are needed, and many other houses are in need of major repair.
Since a state of emergency was declared almost two months ago, instead of receiving immediate supports from both the federal and provincial governments, the community has received:
Jurisdictional wrangling between the federal government and Ontario on who should be responsible for the emergency, who should pay for the needs of the people
Blaming from the feds on their financial mismanagement, which isn’t true
Punishment with third-party management
Red tape & bureaucracy in order to have their state of emergency recognized and needed funds allocated
While the spotlights were on the Attawapiskat’s state of emergency and the governments’ illogical, irrational victim blaming and finger pointing on who should be responsible for the emergency, other news also brought to light that the federal government has spent tones of money in spying on a respectful First Nations child welfare advocate – Cindy Blackstock – as well as many other Indigenous peoples and their supporters for defending Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination and land rights.
It is very clear that Canada has not changed its colonial attitude and its ultimate objective of genocide of the First peoples of this land, even after its Residential School Apology issued on June 11, 2008. The actions of the Canadian government speak louder than its words.
On December 1, Attawapiskat First Nation issued a press release in response to the fed’s decision on putting the community under third-party management and its misinformation on the community’s financial situation. In this release:
Chief Spence has said. “On our traditional lands, that we once shared in the past with the visitors to our land, our lands, have proven to be bountiful in natural resources, and have been a benefit to all of Ontario, and Canada, but we were left behind. In our territory, we have a world class diamond mine, the pride of the Canadian, and Ontario governments, as well as De Beers Canada. They have every right to be proud of that mine, but each party has failed to acknowledge the First Nation peoples who continue to use the land as our grandparents did.
While they reap the riches, my people shiver in cold shacks, and are becoming increasing ill, while precious diamonds from my land grace the fingers, and necklaces of Hollywood celebrities, and the mace of the Ontario Legislature.
My people deserve dignity, humane living conditions, for that our community asked for the assistance from my fellow citizens, for our simple request for human dignity, the government’s decision was to impose a colonial Indian Agent.”