Nine days ago, when Idle No More rallies swept across Canada, Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence announced a hunger strike. The federal government seized financial control over her reserve last winter, after she declared a state of emergency over abysmal housing conditions and poverty. She has insisted to refuse food until a meaningful meeting takes place between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, First Nations and a representative of the Queen, in hopes of resetting the relationship between Canada and aboriginal people.
The following statement from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was hand delivered last night by Mike Palecek to Chief Spence at the sacred fire:
Chief Theresa Spence,
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers honour Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat for her courageous stand in defense of the land against the moral bankruptcy of the Canadian state.
We recognize the racist and genocidal history of Canada and that the attempts to assimilate and silence Indigenous voices have been rife with failure and abuse. The ongoing theft of Indigenous lands, the refusal to honour agreements made in the name of the British Crown reveal a sadly dishonest and indefensible relationship. It seems nothing is sacred in the eyes of the greedy.
Now this latest government after their so-called "apology" without substance are making another kind of attempt to forever extinguish rights and title to your land while continuing the poverty, illness, homelessness, disappearances of Indigenous women, and imprisonment that it has wrought. Everyone who identifies as "Canadian" should be deeply ashamed of this sad performance but shame is not enough. Our organization will not lend our name to that destruction or defend a morally bankrupt government and system. We will not be a party to traumatizing whole populations and can no longer deny or remain silent over the fact the homes of the settlers were built on the ruins of others.
No re-writing of history will change what we all know. These territories were unjustly seized and exploited while accompanied by ongoing attempts to erase history. We hope that we will learn better to develop customs and practices to guide our relationship. When Indigenous peoples stand to defend the land and Mother Earth it is our duty to stand with them in order to de-colonize ourselves and recognize this complicity of silence that has occurred for generations is not acceptable.
We honour you Chief Spence, driven to this measure, and with humility and gratitude thank you for your courageous defense of the knowledge you have kept alive, for trying to protect places that future generations will enjoy and though it is maybe not your intent, to know that your actions are now speaking for all of us, for everyone who wants and deserves a sustainable way of life in harmony and respect with the earth. We add our name to those who will not stand for taking away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples in this abusive and indefensible relationship.
In solidarity and gratitude,?
?Canadian Union of Postal Workers