THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy has sent an urgent open letter to Her Majesty the Queen urging direct British Crown involvement in the Chief Theresa Spence hunger strike. The move comes as Chief Spence from Attawapiskat enters day ten of her hunger strike. Governor General David Johnson has reportedly refused to answer questions on the hunger strike and requests from Chief Spence for a meeting.
Beardy wrote Queen Elizabeth seeking direct intervention in the current matters in Canada. “First Nations in Canada are under siege as a result of the draconian legislative and policy measures of the federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Chief Theresa Spence of the embattled Attawapiskat First Nation in Treaty 9 territory is currently engaged in a life-or-death hunger strike in Ottawa to protest the outrageous actions of the federal government. At this unprecedented moment of national peril, your direct intervention is urgently required. You remain the Monarch of Canada, in accordance with article 17 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867. Royal intervention is amply justified by the special historical relationship between First Nations in Canada and the Crown, and by the depravity of the actions of the current federal government”.
Contrary to Canada’s underlying message that the relationship between First Nations and the British Crown has ended, the letter explains that the legal and historical connection between the British Crown and treaty nations in Canada is still alive.
“The federal government is acting in equal and unremitting defiance of its international law obligations to First Nations. Some of these obligations and norms have been codified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), which applies to Canada. Article 32 of the Declaration provides that First Nations have the right to determine priorities and strategies for their land and resources. Article 37 obliges successor states like Canada to “honour and respect … treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements” with First Nations. Article 19 requires the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of First Nations before the adoption of state measures that might affect First Nation rights and interests. The Consent requirement in the international Declaration is parallel to the constitutional fiduciary obligation of Canada to consult and accommodate First Nations before adopting any problematic measures. This obligation has been confirmed on many occasions by the Supreme Court of Canada, based in part on article 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982”.
Regional Chief Beardy stated in the letter to Her Majesty that, “You remain the Monarch of Canada, in accordance with article 17 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867 and that at this unprecedented moment of national peril, your direct intervention is urgently required.”
The letter cites article 25 of the Canada Constitution Act, 1982 for the continuing enforceability of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in relation to Canada’s repatriation. “This is precisely why Chief Theresa Spence is demanding to move an agenda forward with representatives of the British Crown—she is fighting for recognition of the long-standing relationship First Nations have had, starting with King George III, her Majesty’s predecessor. It is time Canada understands this,” stated Beardy.
The urgent open letter is making its way to Buckingham Palace and it is undetermined at this time if it will reach Her Majesty directly but all efforts will be made to ensure a response from Her Royal Highness. It has also been posted publicly for the world to view.
COO Urgent Open Letter to Her Majesty the Queen – Dec 20 2012
From outside Buckingham Palace in London, a group of supporters have shared this image of support for Idle No More. Photo courtesy of Henrietta Williams.