By Tim Fontaine
APTN National News
HALIFAX – It has been a busy week of protests, hunger strikes and controversy in Atlantic Canada, as the Idle No More movement continues to grow.
People on the LIstuguj First Nation in Quebec continued a blockade of the CN rail line. Mi’kmaq people there are hoping to add pressure to calls for the Prime Minister to meeting with Chief Theresa Spence, who’s been on a hunger strike for three weeks now.
In Nova Scotia, dozens of people who were fasting in solidarity with Chief Spence will finish Monday after four days without food. On the Millbrook First Nation near Truro, N.S. there will be a feast and round dance to celebrate.
In New Brunswick, around 30 people from across the Atlantic region will be leaving the St.Mary’s First Nation on a bus, including the community’s Chief Candice Paul. They’re making their way to Ottawa where they’ll spend three days supporting Chief Spence, rallying on Parliament Hill and some say they’ll even protest outside the Prime Minister’s residence.
Rose Julian from the Paqtnkek First Nation in Nova Scotia will be on that bus. She says Bill C-45 – the omnibus budget bill that so many First Nations oppose – means economic development can now happen at the expense of the environment.
“I work as a Lands and Economic Director [for the Paqtnkek First Nation] and believe in conservation and sustainability of resources. There can be no economic growth without a healthy planet, this is detrimental.” she said, adding, “we need to stop the Harper Government, We want Canada back, as should other Canadians.”
Chief Paul paid to charter the bus but people have been donating money to offset the costs.
And in Halifax, a morning radio show angered some listeners with a program about Chief Theresa Spence. The December 28 edition of “Maritime Morning” asked viewers if the Prime Minister should meet with Chief Spence because of her hunger strike.
The show’s host, Jordi Morgan, said that First Nations have some valid concerns but he called the Chief’s hunger strike a “form of terrorist negotiation.”
When Morgan opened the show to callers, a man who was identified only as “John” said that Harper would be wrong to meet with First Nation leaders, as requested by Chief Spence. The caller also said Aboriginal people received too much money from the feds as is and that much of it goes to band leadership anyway.
“John” also had some choice words for Chief Spence, mocking her weight and saying she should focus on fixing her community’s finances and not “blackmailing the whole country.”
And on the “Idle No More” movement, the caller says “they might as well have something to do besides being idle, which is what a lot of them have been for a long time.”
The host thanked the caller for his comments on air but the following day posted this on their Facebook page:
“The nature of our news and talk programming is to create a forum for objective debate on topics that are current and relevant to our audiences. The comments from the individual who called into Maritime Morning on Friday, December 28 regarding the hunger strike underway at the time by Chief Spence do not reflect views of this station or Maritime Morning host Jordi Morgan.”
APTN asked Maritime Morning host Jordi Morhgan and the producer Meghan Groff for a comment but received no response.