It is difficult to condone a person starving herself to death to make a point, such as Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been doing since she stopped eating solid food Dec. 11 in protest of the recently passed, 443-page omnibus federal budget bill.
However, we admire the strength the Idle No More movement has gained since the first peaceful protests in support of Spence and her desire to improve relations between the federal government and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.
This movement reveals a growing dissatisfaction among First Nations—and their non-First Nations supporters—for the way the federal government is ignoring their right to consultation and eroding a nation-to-nation relationship.
All Spence is asking for is a conversation with the prime minister. At the very least, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan could speak with her. He has said he is open to discussion but not a photo op—an ironic statement from a politician, for sure.
At the same time, protesters should realize that while a conversation may eventually come, change would take time. Are they prepared? Do they have a plan for moving forward if Harper meets with Spence? What happens if he doesn’t, and she dies?
The ‘occupy’ movement of 2011 started strong, gained strength then petered out when it lost focus, and climbers-on took over with their agendas.
We would hate to see the Idle No More movement morph into another ‘occupy’. A woman willing to starve herself to make her point is worth more than that.
At the end of the day, it should not have taken someone going on a hunger strike to bring national attention to such discord.
Let’s hope it does not take a woman’s death for the government to get the point.
Alberni Valley News