23 January 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE BREAKING: Chief
Theresa Spence and Elder Robinson to end sacred fast
by Chris Sabas
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence will end her
sacred fast, which began 11 December 2012, on Thursday morning, 24 January. Manitoba
Elder Gene Robinson, who began his fast in solidarity with Chief Spence on 12
December, and later joined Chief Spence in Ottawa, will also end his fast. A
news conference has been called for 11:00 a.m.
Their decision was based on commitments outlined in
point plan and endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations, the
Native Women’s Society of Canada, the New Democratic Party National Caucus and
the Liberal Party of Canada Parliamentary Caucus. It includes, but is not
limited to ensuring commitments
made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on 11 January are
followed through and implemented as quickly as possible.
Christian Peacemaker Teams applauds the fasters’ courage.
We also want to acknowledge and honor Mr. Jean Sock of Elsipogtog, New
Brunswick, as well as the other fasters who answered the call for endurance,
and faith of ceremony, prophecy, spirits, ancestors and future generations (Rev. 13:10).
|photo courtesy Carol Merrick
For us, as allies and as Christians, or Followers of
The Way, their sacred act, done for the fellowship of all Canadians, conjures up countless stories from Scripture, in
which faithful servants humble themselves, break from routine and seek
deliverance that only Creator God can accomplish. Their fast reminds us of the
actions of Queen Esther, in ancient Persia after the Babylonian exile, because
each used the discipline of fasting as a means of creating solidarity among
people who are separated from one another.
A fast is not only a spiritual discipline but a
discipline for the
breaking of oppression, and for easing the suffering of those who lack food, clothing and shelter (Isaiah 58:5-7). Chief Spence’s message
remained consistent, in that her actions were “the human incarnation of what
Indigenous Peoples struggle with on a daily basis. Our Peoples live in third
world conditions while in our backyard mega development projects extract
resources from our lands while we remain in substandard living conditions.”
Chief Spence and the other fasters humbled their
soul with fasting and were insulted
while doing so (Psalm
69:10). She is weak with reported health
concerns, and even as she prepares to continue her journey
in the physical world, detractors still jab her with slurs of ‘liquid diet’ and
shake their heads with scorn (Psalm 109:24-25).
We honor and rejoice in her leadership and offer
thanks and praise for her grounding commitment. However, we are very aware that
the struggle continues. Canada’s waters remain unprotected. Treaties continue
to be eroded. Parliamentary process continues to be side-stepped. Chief Spence,
Elder Robinson and the other fasters helped shape the path. We look to Idle No
More, and pray for guidance, as we remain committed to the walk in unity upon
this path of justice and toward right relationship.