Jorge Barrera APTN National News Discussion »
OTTAWA, CANADA With the crescent moon still gleaming like an icy scar cut into the pre-dawn darkness, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence walked toward the sacred fire on Victoria Island to wait for the sun on her first day of the hunger strike.
The small fire burned in an area framed by a tall fence of weather-beaten wooden poles and the Ottawa River. The gate was closed Tuesday morning and the only way in was through gaps in the fence or up from the shore of the river.
Dressed in a parka, touque and fur-lined leather mitts, Spence stood by the fire facing east, facing the river and just beyond Parliament Hill, aglow.
About a dozen people gathered with Spence around the fire for a Sunrise Ceremony held in her honour. The elder leading the ceremony ordered all recording devices turned off before he lit a bowl of sweetgrass for the cleansing to begin. Then he pressed a clump of tobacco into the bowl of a pipe he passed around, allowing only those of First Nations ancestry to draw on and smoke.
Clifford Summers, who lives in Ottawa but is from the Oneida Nation on the Thames, picked up the drum and sang a Sundance pipe song before the elder handed Spence an eagle wing.
Spence spoke about the hunger strike, about how the Canadian government was ignoring the treaties and how it was the Queen's duty to intervene because the Crown had signed all the treaties. She says she wants to force a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Queen Elizabeth II and First Nations chiefs.
Spence said she won't eat another morsel of food until then.
It has been a turbulent time for Spence who returned to Attawapiskat in 2000 after spending most of her life in Moosenee, Ontario. Her northeastern Ontario First Nation, which sits along the Attawapiskat River and near a diamond mine, has become synonymous with the misery that afflicts many First Nations communities across the country. Read More »
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posted December 13, 2012 6:00 am est