Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
OTTAWA, ONTARIO Since she began her hunger strike on December 11, reports out of the Victoria Island compound where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been living in a teepee have been fairly upbeat. The typical response to how she was doing has been: "She's in good spirits."
Chief Theresa Spence with Cheryl Maloney and Susan Levi
A press release over the weekend tells a different story:
“Her condition continues to weaken every hour and the time has come for increased efforts to gain the support of Canadians and governments in forging this new relationship.”
In the same press release, Chief Spence asked for Members of Parliament to come visit her on Sunday afternoon.
“She asked all Members of Parliament to come, so that it did not appear she was shutting out any political party,”
stated Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, to the Native News Network in a telephone interview Sunday evening.
Maloney, who is also a political science professor at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, organized Sunday's afternoon event that saw some 20 Members of Parliament pay Chief Spence a visit. No one member of Prime Minister's Conservative Party attended the event.
Chief Spence asked for Members of Parliament to come visit her on Sunday afternoon
“She is in good spirits, but she is weak,”
stated Charlie Angus, a Member of Parliament, New Democratic Party, from the Canadian riding that covers Timmins-James Bay.
“She has carried the weight of frustrations of communities across Canada on her shoulders. Now it is time for people of goodwill to take this weight and begin to build something positive.”
Also on Sunday, Chief Spence met for several minutes with members of the media. At that the event Chief Spence released a statement that included a "call to arms." Because of her health condition, she had a spokesperson read the statement. The statement said in part:
“This is a call to arms and a call to action in the most peaceful and respective way that reflects our natural laws as Indigenous nations,”
she said in the statement.
“First Nations leadership need to take charge and control of the situation on behalf of the grassroots movement. We need to re-ignite that nation-to-nation relationship based on our inherent and constitutionally protected rights as a sovereign nation. We are demanding our rightful place back, here in our homelands, that we all call Canada.”
“The call to arms was not a call for violence, but rather to see more Canadians to get involved in the movement,”
“The Idle More No remains a peaceful. She simply wants more people to join the movement.”
At the outset of her hunger strike, Chief Spence announced has vowed to die unless the government begins to show more respect for aboriginal treaties.
At issue is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harpers push for sweeping legislation that in essence terminates many of the First Nations treaty rights throughout Canada. First Nations people have come out in strong opposition to Harper's legislation known as Bill C-45.
Prior to her hunger strike, Chief Spence has been generally good health.
“We are concerned about what this is doing to her body with the food deprivation,”
There is a nurse practitioner on the island who monitors Chief Spence's health. Chief Spence is reportedly on no medications.
“She is willing to die for this cause, so she does not see the need for a doctor,”
posted December 31, 2012 10:50 am est