The prime minister should meet with Spence

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For the past three weeks I have been following the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence and the aboriginal movement Idle No More.

To the dismay of our Aboriginal peoples both in Canada and around the world, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to ignore the plight and dedication of the First Nations on reserves across Canada.

As a former soldier, I recall July 11, 1990 when, under a Progressive Conservative government, the Canadian Forces were dispatched to Oka, Quebec due to a crisis.

The crisis involved a private company building a golf course on Native land.

That crisis lasted until Sept. 26, 1990 and many of our soldiers felt sick to know our government pitted our military against Canadian citizens because private business tried to steal their land.

New threat

Jump ahead to the fall of 2011, six months after receiving a fraudulent majority government and Stephen Harper is starting his destruction of First Nations communities.  

After Attawapiskat’s Chief Theresa Spence declared an emergency, Stephen Harper put a third party manager in charge of Attawapiskat’s finances and did everything possible to cover over the abuse that had been forced upon a community — many of its citizens were living in tents and shacks.

It should be noted that by early spring, the third party manager had confirmed that there were no mistakes in funding and the community had spent the money properly, much to the horror of the Conservatives.

Fall of 2012, the Conservative government passes Bill C-45, an omnibus budget bill that loosens the grip of treaty rights to Aboriginal lands and waterways, even though it can’t be done without changing the Constitution.  

This means large corporations and mining companies can take away aboriginal lands and aboriginal people would have to fight it in court before they could stop it.

By the time the work would be  stopped, the damage will have already been done, kind of like having to sue a burglar and not being allowed to stop their theft until the case is heard in court.

Imagine being in that position.

Big trouble brewing

My point: what I witnessed in Oka in the summer of 1990 will be comparable to a playground tussle between two kids compared to what will happen if Chief Spence dies.  

In Oka, there were Mohawk members from the U.S.A. who came across to fight with the Mohawk First Nations.

Given the amount of coverage the Idle No More movement is getting and the many First Nation Bands involved from coast to coast to coast, the Conservative government could find itself like General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Stephen Harper: do the right thing, meet with Chief Spence and stop this childish game with another person's life.

Your ancestors learnt from their stupidity when rebels burned their home in Nova Scotia (Christopher Harper) so get over yourself and be a man.  

Your government spent millions of dollars thanking our First Nations (albeit the 200-year-old dead warriors from the War of 1812) for helping win Canada from the American invasion.  

To turn around and do what you did this fall is just a slap in the face of all First Nation and Aboriginal peoples.


Robin Brentnall writes from Gambo.

Organizations: First Nations, Canadian Forces, U.S.A.

Geographic location: Oka, Canada, Attawapiskat Quebec Nova Scotia Gambo

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