Friday, December 21, 2012

Theresa Spence and The Canadian "Spring"?

I don't know how she is doing it, but Chief Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike now for I believe 8 days. She vows to stay on this strike until Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her. The issues? Well, I'm not one hundred percent sure. As this is going on, the Idle No More movement has also kicked in, and the demands by this group seem to go a lot farther than Spence's demands. Spence seems to be focused mostly on living conditions for natives, which is a very fair issue. We all know, or at least should know, that often living conditions can be rather sub standard on some reserves. I mean, there are any number of reasons for this beyond just failures of the Canadian Government. But, regardless it is an important issue and Spence has a right to do what she is doing. I also believe that as a leader within her community, a Chief representing people under the watch of the Canadian Government, she deserves to be paid attention to by PM Harper.

So, here we are, in Canada, in (almost) 2013, and a leader in a community in Canada feels so desperate that she feels she must go on a hunger strike to be heard? This is insane. This should not be. This is Canada! This is a land of freedom, where we negotiate, talk and come to understandings, where we try to work together and work out our least in theory, at least in my mind. But what gets to me is that Harper doesn't seem to interested in meeting with her. Why?? I don't get it.

After declaring a state of emergency on her Northern Ontario reserve over the fact that several families were living in poor conditions, in sub par housing, she was attacked as being a bad leader who mismanaged finances. Apparently, based on people looking into things...she didn't. All the money she spent on the reserve was used in a way approved by the Canadian Government. That doesn't mean I think that all decisions made on the reserve were perfect, or that a few things didn't fall through the cracks. What it does mean is that she isn't the evil lady that many on the right in Canada and within the Federal Government portrayed her as. So, to say the least, she has a history with the Canadian government.

So, why on earth would Harper not meet with her to iron out some of the issues they have had and help to solve issues so that we can all move forward?? It makes no sense to me. It's especially difficult to understand seeing as the Federal Government is the one who is dealing directly with Native leaders in this country. There is no Premier to go to. There is no other local government. There is the Canadian government.

She also represents a growing movement of people that are sick of what has been going on. This is a country that, for whatever reason, has never fully been able to deal adequately with issues pertaining to First Nations peoples and things just seem to be getting worse. We have an unfortunately large percentage of Natives in Canadian jails, one of the highest suicide rates in the world, a generation raising children that are still haunted by the boarding school nightmare, and nothing appears on the surface to be getting resolved. Land claims court cases get backlogged for years and years, deals that have been made in the past have been broken, new development for extracting resources is causing major environmental damage and affecting the lives of Natives probably more than many other people in Canada because it impacts their lands that they use for hunting and fishing...and living on in general. So, there are issues that need to be addressed. Our Prime Minister however doesn't seem very interested in it.

So, now what? How long is this hunger strike going to have to go on before Harper actually has dialogue with Theresa Spence, and starts addressing issues that affect Natives all over Canada. Not only that, but issues, that in the end, impact everyone in Canada, not just Natives. It's just beyond my belief that this is happening. I'm saddened that this is the way it is in Canada. I seldom hear of hunger strikes outside of places that aren't run by dictators or very corrupt regimes, unless I am missing something. How can this be happening in Canada???

All I can say is that I wish Theresa Spence all the best and hope that Harper visits her before it's too late. I hope he understands the consequences that he will face if, for some reason, she is allowed to die. I can imagine riots, road blocks, and violence. Before it gets to that, let's have dialogue. Meet with her, Mr. Harper! It's the right thing to do. 


  1. Spare Me -- She Going die ? Her Husband just wanted her to lose weight - This is all BS !!!

    1. Well, then you will probably prefer my newest post.