Weakening Attawapiskat Chief Spence issues ‘call to arms’

News that not only informs, but inspires.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
OTTAWA--A weakening Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, now into day 20 of her hunger strike, issued a “call to arms” Sunday during a rare press conference outside her snow-covered teepee on Victoria Island.

Spence, who began her hunger-strike on Dec. 11 with the aim of forcing a treaty meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the governor-general and First Nations leaders, said she was feeling weak and tired.

“I am feeling a little bit weak and I get tired easily,” said Spence, while surrounded by TV cameras and reporters shivering from the -21 C temperatures with the wind chill.

APTN National News was told that Spence suffered through a rough day on Saturday and Sunday’s press conference and meeting with MPs during a two hour open-house at the log fence-lined compound was expected to exhaust her.

While Spence spoke briefly, repeating her position that she plans to continue the hunger strike until the meeting happens, one of her closest aides Danny Metatawabin, from Attawapiskat, read a statement on her behalf.

In the statement, Spence called on First Nations chiefs to start leading the Idle No More movement, which was sparked and maintained by grassroots people through round dances, blockades and rallies across the country throughout December.

“This is a call to arms and a call to action in the most peaceful and respectful way that reflects our natural laws as Indigenous nations,” said Metatawabin as he read the statement. “First Nations leadership needs to take charge and control of the situation on behalf of the grassroots movement. We need to reignite that nation to nation relationship.”

Over a dozen MPs and Senators from the Liberal and NDP parties also visited with Spence Sunday, lining up to shake her hand and later waiting their turn to enter the teepee where Spence sleeps, which is warmed by a woodstove and insulated by blankets on the inside.

“How could it be that in a country like Canada that someone has to have a hunger strike in order to get the prime minister to meet nationally elected leaders?” said NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Attawapiskat. “I am asking the prime minister, don’t be a fool.”

Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau said he didn’t agree that Harper would set a problematic precedent by agreeing to the demands of a hunger-striker. Garneau said the current situation was comprised of a number of factors that set it apart.

“This is a dramatic situation, this is a manifestation of a huge amount of frustration between a huge amount of frustration between Aboriginal people, First Nations and the government,” said Garneau. “This is a very, very serious and important part of being a leader in government. He should meet with Aboriginal leaders and Chief Spence.”

Across the country again Sunday, the Idle No More movement continued apace through round dances, traffic slowdowns and two ongoing rail blockades in Ontario and British Columbia.

Also in Ottawa Sunday, a group of about 30 chiefs met to discuss their next plan of action.




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  • Laura E. Bear

    One of my sisters said something very interesting: ”this will be his legacy’, just watch.” I think that is pretty close to the truth!!! Other Prime Ministers did not have to use a whole race to do that. I don’t believe that they had to do that; nor does this one. At least think of the LAND if you do not like our heritage, or is tired of us!!! and our Treaties!! Chief Spence——we love you!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ITisMrsSmoke2u Melanie A Smoke

    I think that it’s sad that Prime Minister Harper has not met with Chief Theresa Spence yet…or honored her request today. It shows the clear disrespect he has for our first nations culture and people. I was one who voted for Harper in the beginning and thought he was a man of good heart and etiquette…but he has clearly turned into a wolf in sheeps clothing :( So much for your apology to our people Mr. Harper. First Nations people are raised with promises to take care of mother earth….a chief is molded with responsibilities and virtues that could not possibly allow us to “sell out”. You have children yourself Mr. Harper….think about what YOU ARE TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN!

    • Kate Maxon

      Agreed, Melanie. His “apology” meant nothing at all. He has not only betrayed FN people…he has betrayed ALL Canadians. If his evil FIPPA CRAP continues ALL the children of Canada will lose what is rightfully theirs….clean air, clean soil and clean water. This betrayal should unite any forward thinking human beings and make them realize we must ALL STAND TOGETHER against the so-called “harper’s canada” bullshit.Canada is not HIS…. it belongs to the citizens of this country whether no matter what their origins.
      My prayers are with Chief Spence, and with our future generations.

  • http://httprussianfreedomforumlefora.com/ shablon

    Mr. Harper sneers at the native rights of the people of Palestine. I do not expect him to respect the rights of his own natives any better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arossti Andy Ross Thomson

    One really needs to promote a frank and unflattering investigation into the PM’s motives. Are they theologically motivated? Do most Canadians realize he is a member of the Alliance Evangelical Church? http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/03/26/Harper-Evangelical-Mission/ – fanatics are dangerous people. If he truly believes FN peoples are ‘lost’ – how can this not influence policy?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ITisMrsSmoke2u Melanie A Smoke

      I think he really believes we are stupid, uneducated and so poor that we will take anything given to us (but most of us were raised with values and virtues that no amount of money can buy off). Many had their backs up from the beginning, but i always tend to give people a chance before i write them off. I was one who was fooled by the apology ,when others in my community knew something was up. Even though 1/2 of me was saying “be wary” the other half that wants to believe in the human spirit said ‘give him a chance’. This whole Harper thing is just so disheartening and disappointing …not only for the first nations …but for all the people of Canada and what he doing to the country.

  • Sands Pippen

    All it takes is a simple meeting between two people, and it will at the very least save a human-being, but you have a person who thinks for some reason that he is some how morwe important than the other, and therefore still refuses to meet. I am only one person, however, my blood is that of a race of warriors. I don’t expect the white people to understand this .. and i don’t fucking care if they do. More and more as i age, i understand the suffering that my peoples lived through. My ancestors never had or fully understood the evilness of a people, this was not a part of their world. Today, i see my people and the stae we are in, we are per-capita-the most injails across this country. I see that the white-man has never played fairly, always a second motive .. mostly evil in their talk ! If this woman dies ( Theresea Spence ) then i will find SOMETHING clse to YOU hARPER and you too will feel the pain ..This i gaurrantee. Nobody in this world is untouchable ..NOBODY !

    • Jen R

      I am one of those white people SP and I do understand, and I do care. I’m ashamed of how we marginalize your nations and how so many of the people who post comments on other sites are so unkind and so unknowing. There has been a Myth made about who First Nations are – it is just that – a myth; it has no basis and comes from not knowing.

      The communities I have spent time in in the North display all the poverty, and sometimes the hunger; they also are home to a great number of strong and kind people.

      I hope you’ll stay strong. I hope that someone, in this whole mess has the sense to understand and to realize that the Treaty’s can be read and modified in ways that offer caring and smart decision. I believe that the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs needs to be changed from the top down. There are too many people employed ‘managing’ FN affairs – the system is so top heavy that little of the most important things are available. Food, warm housing and a viable education… preferably with further education, more north, strictly for FN and with FN way of being. Eventually to the way of equality without having to become other than what you are.

      Chief Spence is a wonderful woman. Who has suffered great disrespect… and still few in the south know that the books of Attawapiskat were audited and found A1. She also is a fine leader and has encouraged peaceful demonstration.

      Chief Spence does not want the attention of people that just give lip service to the problems – she is wise. I was heartened to hear that Joe Clark – a former PM had visited her. I believe he does not hold a big political position…. but he is, I believe, an honorable man, who went to see her, from his own heart felt beliefs.
      I have not enjoyed Christmas, I hope for the day when Chief Spence will again eat and I hope she will be well. I have really considered how to share my skills with FN. One person can’t make a huge difference – but a little is a start.

  • m8lsem

    I am and will pray for her and her campaign. Dialogue is everything when it comes to politics … ‘my way or the highway’ is not ethically or morally acceptable.

  • Mel Legarde

    call to arms!?! is she nuts..what’s does she want a shoot out with Canada..a civil war?

    • RedStarryNight

      Did you read the story or just the title? “This is a call to arms and a call to action in the most peaceful and respectful way that reflects our natural laws as Indigenous nations,” said Metatawabin as he read the statement. “First Nations leadership needs to take charge and control of the situation on behalf of the grassroots movement. We need to reignite that nation to nation relationship.”

    • Kelly Hewison

      It is a metaphoric call to arms. Maybe read Rhodes article and not just the headline.

    • Terry

      Hey bud learn to read English, she is NOT asking for a war….LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Swaneagle-Harijan/1628617134 Swaneagle Harijan

    Profound in these dire times when all of life hangs in the balance. Last chance time is upon every last one of us. Blessing Chief Spence, many hearts love and ache for you and all you stand for.

  • thunderbird

    Harper is too busy selling native soil to forign governments and securing jobs. To remove and devistate the natural resorces that we depend on, creating a division with men of race and creed from either side of the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000999383819 Blackbird Nan

    when the so called appoligey went out to residental surivours, he was pressured to do that we all seen it, he didnt care he never did, he is laughing behind all our backs, its to bad someone can call him dad, its shameful, disgusting, and just plain damn iggorant, a woman is dying on your watch harper, shame on you u evil man, little does the non-native get it , your selling them out also, u make me sick, I LOVE CHIEF SPENCE

  • Rob Bear

    For the First Nations Chiefs to take over “Idle No More” would be outright theft!
    If the Chiefs want to start another organization, they can do so.


    Words of encouragement goes to Chief spence, you are a woman of GREAT INSPIRATION and COURAGE to a great many people, first nation and non first nations. Many people around the world, not only in canada look upon your enormous sacrifice, as an inspiration and a catalyst for serious change between canadians and the first nations relationships. It is unfortunate that you had to go to such extremes, to bring light to the seriousness of the conditions in your community. I hope and pray that a solution will present itself, so that your great sacrifice will end for the betterment of us all. Im aware that many first nation leaders have shown great frustration in trying to resolve these issues with the Harper conservatives, but to no avail. The Harper government seems not to hear the voices of our leaders and chooses to ignore them, as a result our (grassroots) people have taken their STAND against these injustices placed upon our people. It is very encouraging to see so many of our young people across this nation and other nations, taking these types of actions for our people. Once again CHIEF i say thank you for your sacrifice and courage and i hope and pray that a new and hopeful partnership with the Canadian people will be accomplished, through all of our collective efforts. I am proud to call you a CHIEF of our people, Be STRONG Be PROUD your cause is RIGHTEOUS.

  • AlliesNetwork

    On Sunday a small group met in Lanark County to discuss what we might be able to do to lend support for Chief Spence and the Idle No More movement, as non-First Nations allies. Some of us will be fasting for the day on Jan 1st and practising meditation, contemplation, education and prayer in our own ways. This is to honour Chief Spence’s hunger strike, offer support and raise consciousness in our families and communities. Some of us will be taking firewood to her teepee this week and food, warm clothing etc. We have some more plans but none firmly set as yet. With great respect and gratitude for your generosity and courage, we send our love and best wishes.May you be well, may you succeed in your very important struggle for ALL of us on the planet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnjlonghi John Longhi

    I personally agree with Prime Minister Stephen Harpers position on this matter. If he gives in it opens the door for any wacko to try the same, In our great country we have a process in place that allows us to voice our grievances and this is just not an acceptable way to do it. Chief Teresa Spence does not have a mandate to speak or negotiate on anyone’s behalf except her own FN. It’s time for her to end the hunger strike and try to solve the mismanagement problems that are plaguing her reserve.

    • eugene

      chief spence and all other FN chiefs are doing a much better job managing their scant budgets (4 point 5 billion after the fed bureaucracy takes 4 point 5 billion to feed their coffers and entitlements) than this 45 billion $ fraudster (didn;t he say those f35 homicide bombers were going to cost us 9 billion $ and then boom, two sets of accounting books discovered by PBO), the fraudster in ottawa and his leeching from Our Treasury entitlement thieves. we need to get rid of these cons and libs crooks NOW! chiefs have annual audits, they don;t receive a penny until those audits are checked and they also have twice weekly financial statements handed over to the racist indian affairs. come join the dancers John and we’ll save your drinking water from the 6,000 poisonous chemicals unleashed in fracking and the hundreds of billions $$$$ these fraudsters in ottawa are trying to steal for chinese, american, euro and cdn billionaire boss/thieves.