Here’s Why Chief Theresa Spence Is Starving Herself – by Carolyn Bennett (Huffington – December 13, 2012)

Carolyn Bennett is a federal Liberal Member of Parliament.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) hosted a Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa last week to develop a plan to deal with the Conservative government’s increasingly confrontational approach toward First Nations. Speaking to the Assembly, National Chief Shawn Atleo referred to the deterioration in the relationship with Ottawa noting, “We’ve seen promises broken and others act in bad faith.”

He also called First Nations to action in “not rallies of a few, but a movement. A movement of peoples. A moment of nations coming together.” Frustration boiled over as the assembled Chiefs rallied on Parliament Hill and tried to gain entry to the House of Commons chamber in order to be heard by Harper and his colleagues.

A tweet from Tanya Kappo of Edmonton against Omnibus Bill C-45 with hashtag #idlenomore has snowballed and inspired thousands on Monday to protest in communities across Canada against the unilateral and paternalistic approach of the Harper government.

Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat started a hunger strike this week — “I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it’s time for the government to realize what it’s doing to us.” With this government’s decision to treat Aboriginal Peoples in Canada as “adversaries,” Aboriginal peoples have indicated that this may well be only the beginning of their protests.

The frustration of Aboriginal Peoples is understandable given the complete lack of progress on their issues and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with them on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights.

Since the Crown First Nations Gathering the government has been ramming through legislation on First Nations’ financial reporting, matrimonial property on reserves, regulation of water and wastewater, various portions of the Indian Act, Aboriginal Fisheries, land management and environmental protection — all without proper prior consultation and without the necessary resources to implement all these changes being imposed upon them. In fact, the government has cut funding to Aboriginal councils and regional organizations, weakening their capacity to implement and the government’s new rules and regulations.

We are also expecting more top-down legislation regarding First Nations education, private property ownership on reserves and a host of other issues to rain down on Aboriginal peoples from Ottawa in the near future.

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