Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa
by Aislinn Rose
On December 10th, over 5000 people rallied across the country against
controversial omnibus Bill C-45. This legislation makes sweeping changes to the Indian Act and drastically reduces protections for waterways without any consultation with First Nations, in direct opposition to existing treaties. You may not have heard about those rallies on December the 10th because our national media was busy covering a certain little well-dressed monkey lost at an Ikea store.
But the grassroots campaign known by its twitter hashtag #IdleNoMore, which grew rapidly
through the use of social media, coupled with the current hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, has forced a narrative shift. With blog posts in the Guardian, interviews on CBC (below), and various news articles and editorials, the movement has found an international audience, and international solidarity.
Chief Theresa Spence has been on her hunger strike
since December 11th. She seeks a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Queen to discuss our country’s existing treaties. “All treaties were signed by the Crown — the government — and our ancestors … the treaties are there for a reason and either the prime minister doesn’t understand them, or he doesn’t want to respect them,” Spence has said.
Movements of solidarity have popped up across the country and in other parts of the world. In Toronto, Native Earth Performing Arts has organized a Fasting Relay in solidarity with Chief Spence. Artists in the community have each taken a day throughout Spence’s hunger strike to fast for the day in support of her efforts, and to send a unified message to the Prime Minister to meet with the First Nations leader.
What Chief Theresa Spence is doing is forcing the government and all of Canadian society to decide publicly whether they care if she – and by extension her people and our shared land – ceases to live. She is willing to die. This is an extreme measure that I have not had the courage to take. With this fasting relay, I am proud to join with my many beautiful communities to support Chief Spence in this small yet symbolically significant way.
~Tara Beagan, Artistic Director, Native Earth Performing Arts
Below is an ever-growing list of relay participants as gathered on Native Earth’s facebook event page. Please add your name to the comments section if you have joined the fast and are not on the list, and be sure to let Native Earth know if you haven’t yet joined the relay but would like to.
Find out more about upcoming Idle No More events on their official website here.
Native Earth Fasting Relay Timeline
Dec 12 Chief Spence began.
After 24 hours, and a fair assessment landing on the reality that Harper would not be hearing her, the organizing of this support relay began.
Dec 13 Steve Tredget (NEPA family) fasted in support before this relay began
Dec 14 Tara Beagan (NEPA)
Dec 15 Derek Garza (NEPA) and Tahani Afaneh (NEPA family)
Dec 16 Janet Antone (NEPA)
Dec 17 Jiv Parasram (Pandemic, New Harlem and Cahoots Theatre)
Dec 18 Aislinn Rose (Praxis Theatre), Richard Cliff (NEPA family) and Kenneth Williams (playwright)
Dec 19 Keith Barker (NEPA)
Dec 20 Rae Powell (NEPA) and Brooklyn Doran (NEPA family)
Dec 21 Winter Solstice, Andy Moro (NEPA family) and Troy Emery Twigg (Centre for Indigenous Theatre), Michelle Latimer (NEPA family, filmmaker)
Dec 22 PJ Prudat (NEPA family), Eli Ham (NEPA family) and Leah Simms-Karp (NEPA)
Dec 23 Rupal Shah (Nightswimming and Obsidian Theatre, NEPA member), Anita Majumdar (actor/playwright), Christopher Ross (NEPA family)
Dec 24 Deb Courchene (NEPA), Ashley Bomberry (NEPA family), Jiv Parasram again.
Dec 25 James Cade (NEPA family), Marjorie Chan (playwright)
Dec 26 Cole Alvis (NEPA), Luke Larocque, Jordan Tannahill (Suburban Beast)
Dec 27 Michael Wheeler (Praxis Theatre), Ruth Madoc-Jones (NEPA family and SummerWorks), Marilo Nunez (Alameda Theatre), Naomi Skwarna (Suburban Beast)
Dec 28 Brooklyn Doran, again (NEPA family), Aislinn Rose, again (Praxis Theatre) Sasha Kovacs, Marion de Vries (Centre for Indigenous Theatre)
Dec 29 Laura Nanni (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), Christine Rambukkana
Dec 30 Michael Rubenfeld (SummerWorks), Lisa C Ravensbergen (NEPA family)
Dec 31 Colin Doyle (actor) and Darla Contois (CIT)
Jan 1 Nicole Joy-Fraser