The chief of a Northern Ontario reserve that garnered international media attention last year for its deplorable living conditions says she is giving up food until the Prime Minister and the Queen agree to discuss treaty rights at a meeting with first nations.
The hunger strike announced by Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat was just one of a number of actions taken Monday by first nations members who say they are tired of watching from the sidelines as the federal Conservative government enacts laws that affect their lands and people.
“The reason why I am doing this is to tell the Prime Minister and the Crown to sit down at the table with the [first nations] leadership, because the treaty’s been violated [for] so many years and it’s time for the Prime Minister to honour it and respect our leaders,” Ms. Spence told reporters at a news conference outside the Parliament buildings.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “making legislation and bills and laws that are impacting our future” without consultation, Ms. Spence said. “He has no right to make plans for our future.”
Ms. Spence will be staying in a cabin on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River while she goes without food. “I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it’s time for the government to realize what it’s doing to us,” she said. “I am not afraid to die. If that’s the journey for me to go, then I will go and I am looking forward to it.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Harper said the government has respected its duty to consult with first nations. Every year, she said, there are more than 5,000 such consultations and, since 2010, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has personally visited 50 first nations communities.
Attawapiskat chief goes on hunger strike to press for treaty rights - The Globe and Mail