Manitoba Chiefs have shown true leadership – Chief Theresa Spence

Across the Ottawa River in Ottawa, the Tee Pee where Attawapiskat Chief Spence is holding fast on a hunger strike
Across the Ottawa River in Ottawa, the Tee Pee where Attawapiskat Chief Spence is holding fast on a hunger strike

OTTAWA – “The Manitoba Chiefs have shown true leadership and see the importance of unity in order to bring our international, constitutionally protected rights to the forefront. We need to regain trust with this current government but need a willing partner to rebuild this volatile relationship”, stated Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

From Victoria Island, on the traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples; Chief Theresa Spence has entered into her thirty ninth day of her hunger strike which is starting to take a physical toll of her body. However, Chief Spence spirits were lifted by a visit by the Manitoba Chiefs today by stating their support and commitment for both Raymond Robinson and herself in their hunger strikes for Indigenous Peoples.

“We thank Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Grand Chief Murray Clearsky for their demonstration of public support for our common cause today. We stand together united in our call to the Prime Minister and Governor General of Canada to meet with First Nations leaders on January 24th. I pray that Canada will come to the table soon, as time isn’t on my side and as each day passes, so does our health,” said Chief Theresa Spence.

Chief Spence’s hunger strike is the human incarnation of what Indigenous Peoples struggle with on a daily basis. Our Peoples live in third world conditions while in our own backyard mega development projects extract resources from our lands while we remain in substandard living conditions.

Canada is obligated to protect the Treaties that the Crown signed with Indigenous Peoples. The Indian Act provides protection for “lands reserved for Indians”. Canada cannot impose legislation that changes Treaties without the consent of Indigenous Peoples. If Canada fundamentally breaches Treaty conditions, titles and deeds granted, Canada is jeopardized. If the Treaty is voided then aboriginal title is reasserted. Even Canadian courts have recognized this right.

“We’ve seen over the past couple of weeks racialized violence occur against our Peoples and it’s a true reflection of the state of Indigenous relations in this country. We are at a crisis in Canada and our Treaty relationship must be renewed during the proposed meeting between our leaders and the Governor General and Prime Minister of Canada,” concluded Chief Spence.