Photo: Michael DancingEagle Cassidy

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Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is now on Day 9 of an indefinite hunger strike, and she has still received no direct response to her demand for a meeting with Harper. 

On Tuesday, the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, leader of the Official Opposition, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper: 

“As you know, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation has also embarked on a hunger strike, living in a (teepee) on Anishinabe traditional territory of Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, barely a kilometre from Parliament. I ask that you please act swiftly to avoid a personal tragedy for Chief Spence…

“From coast to coast to coast, an unprecedented wave of grassroots action is sweeping across First Nations communities. When you met with First Nations leaders less than a year ago, you committed your government to working in partnership with First Nations Canadians. The #IdleNoMore protests are proof that Aboriginal Canadians are demanding you fulfill that solemn commitment.”

Earlier this week, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) became the latest of a number of labour organizations to show solidarity with the hunger strike. In a letter delivered Monday, CUPW wrote: 

“The Canadian Union of Postal Workers honour Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat for her courageous stand in defense of the land against the moral bankruptcy of the Canadian state…

We recognize the racist and genocidal history of Canada and that the attempts to assimilate and silence Indigenous voices have been rife with failure and abuse. The ongoing theft of Indigenous lands, the refusal to honour agreements made in the name of the British Crown reveal a sadly dishonest and indefensible relationship. It seems nothing is sacred in the eyes of the greedy…

No re-writing of history will change what we all know. These territories were unjustly seized and exploited while accompanied by ongoing attempts to erase history. We hope that we will learn better to develop customs and practices to guide our relationship. When Indigenous peoples stand to defend the land and Mother Earth it is our duty to stand with them in order to de-colonize ourselves and recognize this complicity of silence that has occurred for generations is not acceptable…”

Rallies, flashmobs and various #IdleNoMore online actions continue all this week. A large demonstration is planned in Ottawa this Friday, Dec. 21, with solidarity actions also taking place in a number of other cities and towns across Canada and beyond. 

For all our coverage of the Idle No More movement, see our Indigenous Rights page