Darren Bonaparte: Chief Theresa Spence should end hunger strike

"The Idle No More movement and the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence are all the rage on social media these days. Facebook has become a powerful, unifying factor among aboriginal peoples who have long complained of the sketchy coverage of our issues by the mainstream press. A long-time social media snob, I reluctantly started using it about a year ago to promote my various projects, and quickly realized how enthusiastically natives have taken to the technology.

When the Canadian government tabled the omnibus budget bill C-45, native opponents of the legislation took full advantage of social media to organize. One of the complaints was the apparent lack of consultation with aboriginal leadership. One leader, Chief Theresa Spence, began a hunger strike in protest, calling for a high-level meeting between the Prime Minister, the Governor-General, and native leadership. She declared that she was willing to die for her people. Many of my friends on social media rallied to support her and praised her courage. For many, it amounted to little more than sharing a few home-made “memes,” which is basically a graphic with a pithy slogan on it. For others, it involved making personal trips to meet personally with this woman who, up until a month ago, was virtually unknown.

Recently it was announced that the Minister of Indian Affairs was willing to meet with her, but she refused, insisting that only a meeting with the Prime Minister and Governor-General would do. As any chief will tell you, it is extremely difficult to wrangle a face-to-face meeting with the Minister of Indian Affairs. A meeting with the Prime Minister is virtually impossible, since he has a whole ministry dedicated to Indian Affairs that speaks for him. A well-known Mohawk chief, who has been in office since the 1980’s, has been calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister for years but has always been rebuffed."

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Darren Bonaparte: Why I'm Not Willing to Die for My People (Indian Country Today 1/6)

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