A very brave Chief Theresa Spence from Attawapiskat, Ontario, continues her third week of a starvation diet to force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with First Nations leadership to discuss the plight of First Nation people in Canada.
In 2008, Harper showed leadership when he apologized, on behalf of the Canadian government, for residential school abuse. Very little has been done by the federal government since the apology, however.
Now we have the possibility of a martyr to awaken the prime minister, premiers, politicians, and Canadians to the many concerns voiced by First Nations. They have been protesting throughout Yukon, and the rest of Canada, the unjust practices of both territorial and federal governments. Some of these injustices contribute to the poor living standards on many First Nation reserves; others involve, for example, the gutting of environmental and fishing laws that protected our waterways from pollution by industry, or concern changes made to the Indian Act without input from FN leadership.
The Yukon Party government has demonstrated its indifference to First Nation
issues by legislating the removal of the Kaska veto over oil and gas development on their traditional lands. It has also ignored the White River and Ross River First Nations by allowing free staking to take place on their traditional lands without their input.
The Idle No More movement has generated strong reaction by First Nations to compel the federal and territorial governments to seek and implement honest solutions to correct these injustices.
As Yukoners and Canadians we need to join First Nation
protests to let our politicians know that we stand in solidarity with them, that we too want to see First Nation issues addressed, and that we also care about our water and the environment, and that we don’t want to see our resources given away to the highest bidder.