As Chief Spence’s hunger strike looms on, a fervent atmosphere of revolution has exploded over the minds and hearts of Canada’s First Nations and Inuit people.
Hails of repossessing rights to protect ancestral lands have been rejuvenated as First Nations and Inuit across Canada have been protesting to make changes in Bill C-45 that would take away protection of thousands of lakes in their ancestral home lands.
Stemming from the current ill treatment of land in Canada and rising environmental health concerns in these regions, Aboriginals are addressing what has already become seemingly harder to protect – the state of their overall well-being .
Environmental health concerns on reserve have been cited in Aboriginal communities including high rates of menthol mercury poisoning in Nunavik and other Inuit regions, high rates of toxic metals and PCB’s in water sediments around Fort Chipewyan, and constant boil water advisories all throughout First Nations reserves pre Bill C-45. The deregulations of this Bill will intensify these healthcare matters.
With the Arctic Sea ice melting rapidly, creating an open ‘highway’ for international cargo ships to pass, environmental protection has become a concern for First Nations and Inuit who want to preserve their lifestyle of their Aboriginal right to use the land – though ocean protection is not cited in the Bill C-45, it is feared deregulation of the Arctic oceans regions may soon follow.
Chief Spence has gained international recognition for her efforts in addressing the mismanagement of Federal aid to her own reserve of Attawapiskat during its housing crisis.
Being targeted as, ‘the rabble-rouser’ of the Attawapiskat crisis by Prime Minister Steven Harper and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan, she won her Federal Court case against the Canadian government.
Could Harper still be begrudged by this international embarrassment not to meet with Chief Spence? Will he be willing to hold this grudge for so long for a meeting that a recognized Firsts Nation chief could potentially die? Could this be childish of him?
These are all possibilities under the mind of the Mr. Harper.
So this holiday time is of giving and understanding, of love and compassion for ones neighbour. The Canadian government should stick up to those values and accommodate a conversation to debate in the New Year.
This debate should not just be stuck to the lines of Bill C-45. It should address what the protest is really about.
It should address the years of: the neglect of First Nations and Inuit people who have sustained poverty, violence, and genocide. The outstandingly high rates of unemployment, undermined health provisions in addressing high rates of transportation, psychological distress and high rates of incarceration.
Speaking as an Inuit person and a Canadian, this protest is for the of the Nation that it actually cares about the wellbeing for its citizens and not just what we project about the near-sighted economy.
Politics of a nation should reflect its future and its future is withheld with its people. Its time to care about Canadians.
Chief Spence has requested a meeting at 24 Sussex Dr. tomorrow at afternoon at 2:00 p.m.