An open letter from Chief Teresa Spence to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on day 8 of her hunger strike
I am calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Governor General to initiate immediate discussions and the development of action plans to address treaty issues with First Nations across Canada. There has been no progress in alleviating the state of poverty that exists with First Nations across Canada, especially in rural, isolated reserves, contrary to progress reported by the Conservative government.
Land and natural resources continue to be reaped by the federal and provincial governments through taxation of corporate resource companies with little compensation to First Nations for use of our traditional territories. Tri-lateral discussions and financial action plans must be committed to in order to alleviate the existing state of poverty.
The Government of Canada has not upheld nor fulfilled its responsibilities to First Nations, as committed to by the Crown including at the Crown-First Nations gathering in January 2012. Canada has not upheld the honour of the Crown in its dealings with First Nations, as evidenced in its inadequate and in inequitable funding relationships with our nations and its ongoing action in bringing forward legislative and policy changes that will directly impact on the inherent and treaty rights of First Nations. Treaties are international in nature and further Indigenous rights are human rights, both collective and individual, and must be honoured and respected.
There has been enough talk, enough politics, now is the time to develop action plans.
I seek an immediate commitment to a meeting with you as the representative of the Crown, together with Prime Minister of Canada, to demonstrate respect and attention to the priorities set by First Nations. All First Nations across Canada stand united and in solidarity in advancing this urgent call for action and attention.
Chief Teresa Spence,
Attawapiskat First Nation
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