Thunder Bay

Lac Seul First Nation talks healing after hunger strike

A First Nation in Northwestern Ontario wants to heal internal rifts after a five-day hunger strike by one of its members.

Residential school survivor Garnet Angeconeb ends protest

Residential school survivor Garnet Angeconeb ended his five-day hunger strike on Monday. (Garnet's Journey)

Lac Seul First Nation, in northwestern Ontario, is working toward healing internal rifts after a five-day hunger strike by one of its members.

Residential school survivor Garnet Angeconeb was protesting his community's use of a law firm that is currently being investigated for allegedly mishandling survivor's claims.

Angeconeb said the First Nation has agreed to sever ties with the Kenora firm, Keshen and Major.

"The resolution is very favourable," Angeconeb said on Tuesday, after ending his hunger strike the previous evening. "One of the survivors called me last night after the breakthrough and said, 'thank-you, I've been heard.'"

In a news release on Tuesday, Lac Seul Chief Clifford Bull said he is "pleased" the hunger strike is over and he "now looks forward to working with the entire community to foster an environment of healing."

Council 'not in full agreement'

Bull also praised Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for helping resolve situation.

"The [band] Council had received the concerns of many other band members, residential school students included, that opposed the ongoing hunger strike and the potential implications for First Nations governance," the news release said.

"While not in full agreement with the results of mediation, the Council has chosen to support the agreement....Chief Bull has commended the Council for their demonstration of leadership under the extreme pressure of the hunger strike action."

Angeconeb said he's aware people in the First Nation have strong feelings about Keshen and Major.

Day of Healing planned

"There is a long history here of people wanting to sever ties with this law firm and there's also people who love to work with these people," he said. "So there's been a polarization of people in the community and that's really what needs to be addressed."

"I think one of the things about this protest is it has opened the doors to lead us to collective healing," he added. "Healing has to happen."

Bull said he and Angeconeb are now working together "to plan a Day of Healing and Fall Feast to honour the extraordinary courage it has taken for the survivors to come forward and speak about the abuse they suffered."

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