May 25, 2015


Latest News

Chiefs ask Harper for Jan. 24 meeting

OTTAWA – Canada’s chiefs have invited Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to a treaty meeting scheduled for Jan. 24.

The invitations were issued New Year’s Day by the Assembly of First Nations, as the Idle No More movement continues its nationwide protests and Attiwapiskat Chief Theresa Spence moves into the fourth week of a hunger strike.

Manitoba Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake left to join Spence in Ottawa this week.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake left to join Spence in Ottawa this week. Photo Store

Manitoba Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake joined Spence in the hunger strike in Ottawa this week.

The meeting is scheduled on the one year anniversary of the Crown-First Nations Gathering, which was supposed to reset the relationship between the government and First Nations in Canada. It is also the date a progress report is due on what has happened since that meeting.

Most First Nations leaders would say little if anything has happened.

Spence began her hunger strike Dec. 11, demanding a meeting with Johnston or Harper to discuss a plan to improve the lives of her people. Attiwapiskat in northern Ontario has been in the news a lot because of the poor living conditions. A year ago, emergency measures were taken after it was discovered many families were living in non-insulated shacks and tents as winter descended.

Robinson, 51, began a hunger strike Dec. 12, asking for Harper to withdraw Bill C-45. He flew to Ottawa to sit in solidarity with Spence this week.

Both have eaten only herbal teas and fish broth.

The bill is an omnibus budget implementation bill which First Nations argue violates treaty rights. Among the changes the bill makes are changes to environmental regulations and clauses which make it easier for reserves to lease reserve land. Many critics say the latter is an attempt by the government to gain access to valuable lands for oil and mineral development.

There is also anger at huge government cuts to First Nations organizations, including an 80 per cent funding cut for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Neither Harper nor Johnston have said whether they will attend the meeting.

This meeting is not an official event of the Idle No More movement, which is being pushed by grassroots aboriginals and not chiefs and councils. In fact there is a chasm growing between the movement and chiefs as the organizers and some of the protesters complained the chiefs were attempting to co-opt the efforts, and tried to distance the movement from anything the nations chiefs are doing and saying.

For weeks now, protests have occurred across the country including several in Winnipeg this week alone.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 24 10:49 pm

Digging up the past on Monday's front page: pic.twitter.com/qptM4rgMxI

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 24 9:59 pm

Poll question: Should you get a ticket for driving down certain streets on Sundays/holidays?winnipegfreepress.com/polls/ pic.twitter.com/8niIRQhgzo

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 24 8:48 pm

One of Manitoba's last drive-in theatres will go dark this summer wfp.to/RTi

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 24 8:16 pm

Boxers fight for human rights outside of the ring wfp.to/RTW

Winnipeg Free Press | @WinnipegNews

May 24 7:50 pm

Will turning their back on traditional debates harm or benefit the Conservatives? wfp.to/RTA

Scroll down to load more

Top