Canadian Voice of Women statement to Stephen Harper in Support of Chief Theresa Spence
Dear Prime Minister Harper
The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace urges you to meet with Chief Theresa Spence. This is a matter of urgency as she enters the 12th day of her fast.
Like others all across our nation, VOW members were deeply moved when you, as a representative of all Canadians, apologized for the residential school system in 2008. You promised to build a new relationship based on partnership and respect.
But actions speak louder than words. First Nations are constitutionally entitled to substantive consultations. The government must honour longstanding treaties with the First Nations. Earlier in June, your government forced through omnibus Bill C-38 which contained very damaging measures. These included the elimination of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, cuts to the Native Women’s Association of Canada and severe cuts to environmental protection.
Now there is Bill C-45, which “is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country” (the words of Idle No More founder Sylvia McAdam). The proposed Canada-China FIPA deal threatens indigenous rights and there has been no consultation on its implications with those who stand to be most affected.
In July of this year Canada joined other countries in a declaration of support of the UN Charter on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “In doing so, Canada reaffirms its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples at home and abroad.” the Canadian statement says. And it continues: “our endorsement gives us the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to continue working in partnership with Aboriginal peoples in creating a better Canada.”
All Canadians who want to see a livable future in our country, and a just future, share the concerns being raised by Chief Spence. We all need fresh water to live, we all need clean air we can breathe, and we all need housing that we can be healthy in. Right now these needs are not being met in Attawapiskat and in so many other native communities. This is Theresa Spence’s pain, and this is Canada’s shame.
If your government is sincere in promoting indigenous rights in this country and working in partnership, now is the time to take those very important steps to Chief Spence’s tipi and listen to what she has to say.
As Canadian women speaking for peace, we want it known that we stand with Theresa Spence. We believe in working in partnership, and we want to see this happen right now.
Hannah Hadikin, Jan Slakov, Lyn Adamson
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
EXCERPT: UN Treaty on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent
rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic
and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions,
histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands,
territories and resources,
Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights
of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other
constructive arrangements with States,
Canada’s statement: http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1309374239861/1309374546142
Cc: Thomas Mulcair, Bob Rae, Daniel Paillé and Elizabeth May