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4 January 2013
JUSTICE: BREAKING- Prime Minister Harper to meet with First Nations Chief
by Chris Sabas
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to
meet with First Nations leaders on 11 January. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa
Spence, whose 25-day hunger strike forced the meeting, says she will continue
to abstain from food until the meeting actually happens. She wants the Governor
General, Queen Elizabeth II’s Representative in Canada, to be involved as well.
Spence’s hunger strike is a part of a wider movement
of First Nation activists across Canada who have united on social media and at
public rallies since mid-October. Known as Idle No More, the campaign was
started by four women from Saskatchewan protesting a number of bills before
Parliament, including C-45. They want First Nations to be recognized as
sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting land and resources.
In a recent interview with the Toronto
former Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Bland, now a professor at Queen’s University,
said, “It’s completely different. This is a countrywide, nationwide,
spontaneous reaction to government policy.”
Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Aboriginal Justice team issued
a 20 December release
supporting Chief Spence. Since that time, the team has also maintained a
presence via social media. On Christmas morning, the team ‘blitzed’ nearly fifty
solicited photos of support via Twitter, in rapid succession, to the official
Twitter accounts of Chief Spence, Prime Minister Harper, Member of Parliament
Carolyn Bennett, APTN (indigenous news media) and to the #idlenomore hashtag. Each
photo was also posted to the team’s Facebook page. One, showing CPTers Janelle
Thiessen van Esch and Laurens Thiessen van Esch, has gone “viral,” being shared over 2,500 times. The
team continues to receive photos of support for Chief Spence and #IdleNoMore, which it ‘tweets’ and posts on
Facebook. Photos of support can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.