I want to applaud the courage of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.
I heard about Chief Theresa from a friend, Glakwa Kweenie, who, like Theresa, is a member of an indigenous tribe living in Canada. The chief is a member of a movement called Idle No More. She has been on a liquids-only hunger strike for more than a month because the Prime Minister of Canada, one Stephen Harper, would not meet with the chiefs over changes that have been made to treaties that were in effect for over a hundred years. As always seems to be the case in areas where aboriginal peoples were overtaken by greed-mongering land grabbers, many of the treaties in question regard the illegal leasing of tribal lands. Other issues involve water. Land and water again. It’s what the conquerors always and forever seem to want. As lyrics in a Disney movie once put it best, “Think you own whatever land you land on?”
It’s nothing less than outrageous to me that Chief Theresa had to go so far as to wage a hunger strike in order to get this Stephen Harper character to agree to a meeting, but finally, he reluctantly acquiesced – thanks to the fact that Theresa was supported by people from all over the world, and backed up by a campaign on social media. I thank my lucky stars to be living during a time period when Facebook and Twitter can be utilized to spark a difference in our world. Fortunately the word started to spread and suddenly there were demonstrations on Chief Theresa’s behalf in Canada and the United States. There were even train blockades in support of Chief Theresa. I do not profess to follow Canadian politics, or at least, I didn’t before this. This is the first I’ve really heard Prime Minister Harper, but already I find it horrific that this good woman had to announce she was willing to give up her life in this hunger strike to get “Herr Harper” to meet with her so that her people’s situation would be addressed.
Harper finally bowed down to the pressure to do the right thing and will be having a “limited” meeting with Chief Theresa and other Canadian chiefs on January 11th. Keep in mind, though, that he could have met with her when her hunger strike began on December 11th. He ignored Chief Theresa and let her suffer through the Christmas holidays – while professing to be an “evangelical Christian.” He would be ignoring her yet were it not for the fact that her cause was publicized and the outcry of the public has been amazing. Now he’s afraid – not for the Chief, of course, whose health he blatantly ignored for a month, but for the sake of the number of votes he might not get in the next election due to his dismissal of her for all these weeks.
I think Chief Theresa is a beautiful example of something that has been sorely missing in our cultures of late: pure courage. Well done, Chief Theresa! I hope your meeting goes beautifully, and even if it doesn’t, since you’re dealing with a base politician, know that you’ve inspired us all, Red and White, Black and Yellow, American and Canadian, and people of good will from every corner of the world entire – all.
Here’s some YouTube videos of the Chief Theresa Spence/Idle No More Rallies:
Idle No More Toronto:
Idle No More Australia:
Idle No More Winnipeg:
Idle No More Mall of America:
Outside of Stephen Harper’s office (my personal favorite):