Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
OTTAWA, CANADA With thousands of First Nation members braving the bitter cold of Canada's nation's capital city, drums thundered through the streets of Ottawa yesterday as a high level meeting were taking place on the inside between some 20 Assembly of First Nations chiefs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet members.
Facing away from the camera (center right) Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses 20 Assembly of First Nations chiefs
One First Nation chief reported he could hear the crowd on the outside while he was meeting inside.
They came at the invitation of the Stephen Harper, whose image of this free nation leader is severely tarnished for his failure to adequately and appropriately deal with 30-day plus hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Harper and others.
After the meeting a news release was issued by the Assembly of First Nations. There was no mention of any discussion by Harper about Chief Spence or other hunger strikers. The release also mentioned there were eight key points required for fundamental change for First Nations. However, the eight points were not addressed in the news release.
So with the meeting being closed to the press, it was not immediately known what was discussed inside as the thousands of grassroots people were on the outside in the cold.
The news release did indicate the discussions "were grounded in ceremony empowered by the sincere and profound expression among our peoples that change needs to happen and that change will be driven by our peoples, our women and our leadership."
Idle No More Protesters huddle in the cold.
The Assembly of First Nation's news release included several comments from chiefs who were inside the meeting:
“Our grassroots movement forces both of us to take heed and address these issues. We need answers to take to our peoples,”
said Grand Chief Weaselhead, Blood Tribe, Treaty 7.
“We need to break the impasse through high-level political oversight,”
said Chief Deborah Robinson, Acadia First Nation.
“Our people outside are rallying for change. Their voices will not be silenced,”
said Assembly of First Nations British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“We have achieved some movement today,”
said National Chief Atleo.
“The Prime Minister listened respectfully to Chiefs and responded to all they brought forward and for the first time, provided a clear mandate for high-level talks on Treaty Implementation. Prime Minister Harper also committed to high-level discussions on comprehensive claims.”
The Prime Minister agreed that more central and political oversight was necessary to improve the relationship with First Nations. He also committed to quick follow-up on all of these matters and to an ongoing dialogue, according to the news release.
photo credit Jason Ransom;
posted January 12, 2013 6:57 am est