December 20, 2012
Letter from Robyn Benson in support of Idle no More
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
On behalf of the membership of the Public Service Alliance of Canada I today am urging you to meet immediately with Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation. She is now in the ninth day of her hunger strike and there is no time for delay.
People do not make the decision to undertake the dangerous and potentially lethal action of a hunger strike lightly. A certain level of frustration has to have been reached and this is clearly the case for Aboriginal Peoples living in Canada, as evidenced by the rapid growth of the grassroots “Idle no More” movement. And they have ample reason to be frustrated. - Attawapiskat's housing crisis is not an isolated incident of neglect.
There are still over 120 First Nations living under boil water advisories. Schools are severely underfunded. 1 in 4 Aboriginal children lives in poverty. Resource extraction companies are given access to traditional territories without “free, prior and informed consent” as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 600 Aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing and a public inquiry has yet to be called.
These are just some of the reasons that we believe there is a need to enter into meaningful dialogue with Aboriginal leaders. Inherent treaty rights must be respected. Reparations, as a form of transitional justice must be paid. Some meaning must be given to the apology made by your government to the survivors of residential schools.
The “Indian Problem”, a term used by Duncan Campbell Scott while deputy superintendent of Indian Affairs, isn't going to go away. As a country, we will not achieve our full potential unless justice for Aboriginal peoples is done.
Robyn Benson – National President
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Date Modified : 2013/01/02