Christopher Curtis, Vancouver Sun Discussion »
OTTAWA, ONTARIO Theresa Spence gets dizzy if she walks more than a few steps.
The Attawapiskat chief is getting weaker as her hunger strike is in its second week, but Spence says she won't eat until Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with her and other aboriginal leaders across Canada.
Since she began her protest, Spence has spent her days in isolation on the tiny aboriginal territory of Victoria Island, which sits across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill.
These days Spence barely has enough strength to leave the teepee she's been sleeping in. She drinks a small cup of fish broth each day to fend off sickness.
"My spirits are good,"
she said, warming by a wooden fire in her makeshift home.
"I hear drumming every day and people singing songs for me every day it's encouraging."
Chief Spence's strike has become the focal point for Idle No More, an aboriginal rights movement that has captured the imagination of Canada's First Nations peoples.
When she first set foot on Victoria Island less than two weeks ago, Idle No More was a regional protest movement strung together by aboriginal women who met on Facebook. But the campaign has since exploded in popularity, spurring dozens of protests and three highway blockades and inspiring thousands to demand a more equitable relationship between the federal government and aboriginals.
Several solidarity hunger strikes were launched last week and, Tuesday, a man was arrested in Labrador after cutting down a hydro poll to support Idle No More.
Now it appears the movement has extended beyond the First Nations community and into mainstream political discourse. In the past week, all three opposition parties voiced their support for Spence's strike, which has been endorsed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
"It kind of freaks me out how big this thing has gotten,"
said Tanya Kappo, who co-founded the movement in November.
"It wasn't my intention to start something like this, I just wanted people to know how their lives could be affected by (Bill C-45)."
Kappo worries that new laws outlined in Bill C-45 would clear the way for aboriginals to sell plots of their land to non-natives, threatening traditional practices and eroding their language. Read More »
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posted December 20, 2012 6:20 am est