Indigenous woman chief brings Canada separation and politics together

WNN Breaking

Idle No More protesters in Vancouver, Canada
A protester beats her drum as part of the Idle No More action campaign in Vancouver, Canada on December 30, 2012. Image: Memaxmarz/Flicker

(WNN/NWI) Victoria Island, Ottowa, CANADA: In January advocates at the Nobel Women’s Initiative released a statement in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and the Idle No More movement in Canada, and globally. Today, after numerous public calls for her to end her ‘liquid only’ hunger strike to end indigenous discrimination and a positive response to her strike resulting in a coming together on the issues with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston, Chief Spence ended her 47 day fast to highlight inequality, poverty and exclusion among the native aboriginal peoples of Canada.

The Idle No More is an aboriginal rights movement in Canada, and has been building momentum since November 2012. The movement was started by four women in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada in response to Bill C-45, an omnibus bill that threatens aboriginal rights and weakens environmental protections in Canada. The movement seeks to prevent the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper from passing more laws that further erode the rights of aboriginals in Canada, and to protect Canada’s land and water through indigenous sovereignty.

Theresa Spence was galvanized into action after an Idle No More National Day of Action held on 10 December 2012. On December 11th the Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation started a hunger strike, subsisting on nothing more than fish broth and herbal tea. Chief Spence is currently living in a teepee in the dead of winter on Victoria Island in Ottawa, Canada. She has been demanding a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston to discuss treaty rights and better living conditions for Canada’s aboriginals.

In the statement, the Nobel Women’s Initiative thanks Ms. Spence for her tremendous bravery and commends her actions for catalyzing Canadian society into action on these issues. The statement further supports the women Idle No More leadership in their calls for the protection of the environment and respect for indigenous rights.

SEE the full text of the Nobel Women’s Initiative statement below.

HEAR the Hip Hop and Pow Wow Step trio A Tribe Called Red as they support the Idle No More actions

DOWNLOAD the Idle No More Statement




7 January 2013

The Nobel Women’s Initiative strongly supports First Nations grassroots activists leading and taking part in the Idle No More movement sweeping across Canada. We stand in solidarity with them, and all Canadians demanding change in how the Canadian government treats First Nation’s peoples and communities.

We thank Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence for her tremendous bravery in launching a hunger strike to demand a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston. Chief Spence, who on January 7, entered day 28 of her hunger strike, has provided other First Nations youth, women, and men with a powerful model for nonviolent action. Chief Spence’s action has catalyzed other Canadians to take positive action.

Since November 2012, grassroots activists have spontaneously organized across the country in demonstrations, flash mobs, and blockades under the banner Idle No More in response to the recent omnibus Bill C‐45, introduced by the Canadian government. The bill includes numerous measures that threaten rights of the First Nations, guaranteed by previous treaties, notably by weakening environment protection laws. Prime Minister Harper will hold a “working group” with a delegation of First Nations chiefs on January 11, including Chief Spence who will mark one month on hunger strike. Activists are preparing for a global Day of Action alongside the meeting, to give visibility and show solidarity of the Indigenous peoples movement around the world.

The Nobel Women’s Initiative sent a delegation in October 2012, led by Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, to the tar sands of Alberta and along the planned Northern Gateway pipeline route in British Columbia. The delegation heard firsthand from the women, many from First Nations communities, about concerns with growing development projects in the area.

Women repeatedly voiced their hopes for a sustainable economy based on dignified employment and respect for the environment. Today, many of these women are at the forefront of the Idle No More protests, and we proudly support their leadership.