Queen Elizabeth’s office has written a letter to a supporter of Chief Theresa Spence deferring to the federal cabinet when it comes to intervening in the fish-broth fast that the Attawapiskat First Nation leader has been conducting since December 11, 2012.
“This is not a matter in which The Queen would intervene," said a letter from Buckingham Palace to a Spence supporter who wrote to Queen Elizabeth, which was obtained by the Canadian Press. "As a constitutional Sovereign, Her Majesty acts through her personal representative, the Governor General, on the advice of her Canadian Ministers and, therefore, it is to them that your appeal should be directed."
The palace was responding to a letter written on December 15, 2012, by small businessman Jonathan Francoeur, to the Queen asking her to intervene on Spence’s behalf. Spence has refused to end her liquids-only fast, which is on its 39th day as of January 18, until Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General David Johnston and First Nations leaders all meet together. To date the government and Crown officials have met separately with chiefs. Spence and her supporters say they want all three parties to meet on an equal, nation-to-nation basis.
The reply, which crossed in the mail with a letter that Spence herself sent to the Queen on January 9, was dated January 7. Harper and Johnston met with First Nations leaders on Friday January 11 in separate gatherings, causing divisions on the aboriginal side as Spence and other chiefs boycotted the first meeting. Spence attended the one with Johnston, along with more than 100 other chiefs, but she left dissatisfied, and has continued fasting.