Hunger strike sheds new light on First Nations issues, chief says
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike ran parallel with the ongoing Idle No More campaign
Posted: Jan 24, 2013 11:17 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2013 3:11 PM ET
Despite the fact the Theresa Spence didn't get what she wanted, a First Nations chief in northern Ontario says the Chief of Attawapiskat's hunger strike was important in highlighting deep rifts between Aboriginal peoples and the federal government.
Chief Shining Turtle with the Whitefish River First Nation said Spence's hunger strike was similar to what demonstrators have been trying to achieve with the Idle No More movement.
"She's shed light on many of the challenges that we as Canadians don't want to talk about in terms of the political landscape, the needs of First Nations, the unfinished business in terms of relationships, Aboriginal rights, and in terms of our relationship with the land,” Shining Turtle said.
She may have shed light on the issue, but what she demanded she did not receive during her hunger campaign: a meeting between First Nation's leaders and both the Prime Minister and Governer General.Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is helped back to her teepee after greeting and welcoming supporters as they visited her on Victoria Island in Ottawa on. Jan. 3. Spence concluded her hunger strike on Jan. 24. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Shining Turtle added he doesn't think Spence's hunger strike interfered with Idle No More’s momentum.
"I think this thing was multi-faceted and there were many parallel processes that ran,” he said.
“I think she herself said it, time and time again, we're all going to the same place … it's just how do we get there?"
Shining Turtle said Spence's hunger protest created a sense of solidarity across Canada. Her actions were the first steps in establishing a new vision for First Nations people and the federal government, he said.
Going forward, Shining Turtle said First Nations people and the government have to renew the national vision that was established when treaties were first signed.
Spence ended her hunger strike Thursday morning after negotiations with opposition MPs and First Nations leaders, who signed on to a declaration assuring her that work will carry on.
As of Thursday morning, Spence was in an Ottawa hospital for assessment.
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