INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Reflections on the Fast for Indigenous Rights

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CPTnet
30 September 2017
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Reflections
on the Fast for Indigenous Rights

by Chuck Wright

I’m
not a religious guy, but last week I participated in a day of fasting
for Indigenous rights. Although it was only a day, it is in the lead
up to 2nd
reading of Cree MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C262 and in solidarity
with those who are fasting for a just relationship between Canada and
Indigenous peoples. It’s at a time when Canada has a real
opportunity to change course through Bill C262 – an Act to ensure
the laws of Canada is in harmony with the UN Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I
used this time to reflect about the purpose of fasting. Specifically,
I think of Steve Fobister Sr. from Grassy Narrows who – in July
2014 – went on a hunger strike to call for justice for mercury
survivors. I think of former Chief Theresa Spence who – in December
2012 during the birth of the Idle No More movement – endured a
several day hunger fast to demand nation-to-nation meetings about the
socio-economic crises affecting Attawapiskat and so many other
Indigenous communities across the country.

My
friend Steve Heinrichs – Mennonite Church Canada director of
settler-Indigenous relations and CPT Steering Committee member –
initiated a 46-day rolling Fast
for Indigenous Rights

and is inviting others to sign up for a day or more in our shared
hunger for justice. He states: “The
fast is born out of a couple places – a need to show the depth of
our seriousness for Bill C262. Government of Canada has offered a lot
of good words, but needs more action on the ground. It is also born
out of a deep place of spirituality, where I’m asking a force
greater than us to help move the hearts and minds of our political
leaders alongside the grassroots demanding real change in Canada’s
relationship to Indigenous peoples.”

 

Silent action with banners: We support Bill C-262
Constituents
of Winnipeg Centre and supporters of Indigenous Rights call on the
Liberal government to do less talk and more walk for
 reconciliation by supporting Bill C262.

In
his book, Unsettling
Canada
,
the late Art Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation stated that the
Declaration is “a unifying document for Indigenous Peoples around
the world … and it is something [we] can get behind and together
demand that the Canadian government respect.” Bill C262 has been
endorsed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations across the
country, such as Assembly of First Nations, Amnesty International,
Indigenous Environmental Network, Canadian Union of Public Employees,
Grand Council of the Crees, Canadian Federation of Teachers, and many
more. In
the spirit of Art Manuel’s tireless advocacy, Defenders of the Land
and Idle No More put a call out this past June for people to Unsettle
Canada 150 celebrations and call for the full implementation of the
Declaration on the ground. 

The
Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which released its final report
in 2015, similarly affirmed this call to action to implement the
Declaration. Referred to in its report as a “framework for
reconciliation,” the Declaration appears in 16 of the 94 Calls to
Action. Call to Action #43, “We
call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments
to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.”
As a Lakota educator and comrade, Leah Gazan, has stated, “these
are not calls to discussion; they are calls to action.”

The
Liberals have made a number of promises and political gestures toward
implementing the Declaration. But, ultimately, these are just words
and it’s up to us – Indigenous people and settler Canadians alike
– to hold them accountable and ensure these principles are upheld
on the ground. This is why I have joined many others in saying “less
talk and more walk for reconciliation through Bill C262.” This is
why we fast and – out of this hunger for justice – we’re
pushing for support of Bill C262.

Sign
the petition and learn more.

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