Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Email from Sue: Letter to Prime Minister Harper Urging him to meet with Chief Theresa Spence

Hello Wonderful Friends

Attached and pasted below you will find a copy of a letter The United Church
of Canada has just sent to Prime Minister Harper urging him to meet with
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

I would encourage you to share this letter as widely as possible, including
posting it on your facebook pages and asking that it be shared as well by
your facebook friends.

You might also email a brief note to Prime Minister Harper (Right Hon.
Stephen Harper <>) asking him to meet with Chief
Spence before he sits down to Christmas dinner with his family, so that she
may be freed to do the same.

Also, please go to

to find out about actions being organized for this Friday by this
fast-growing and important social movement. Get involved in any ways you
can. This is a moment of tremendous momentum, and we need to seize the day
and build on that.

If you Twitter, please know that #idlenomore is twitter that is being used
to spread the message across the world. It's working but you could help it
spread even more widely by retweeting (if that's the word I want).

I know many of you are taking these kinds of actions already, and I thank
you for it.

I don't know if you'll take this as a promise or a threat, but I will send
out more material related to Idle No More actions, and to Chief Spence, as I
receive them. I will try to keep it to a dull roar.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a blessed and holy Christmas season, and a joyous,
fulfilling New Year. Thank you for all your ongoing support for this
important work. I must admit, this recent and growing groundswell of
grass-roots action is giving me more cause for hope than I have felt in a
while. You can't see it, but I'm smiling.


John Bird, Program Coordinator
Aboriginal Justice and Right Relations
United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. W., Suite 300, Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
416-231-7680 or 800-268-3781, Ext. 4045
Cell: 416-988-5310



December 19, 2012

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons,
Ottawa, Ontario
Fax: 613-941-6900

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

We write with urgency to implore you to meet with Attawapiskat First Nation
Chief Theresa Spence as soon as possible. We are very concerned for her
wellbeing in the second week of her hunger strike.

We share Chief Spence's extreme frustration about your government's many
recent cuts to social programs, and actions like the just-passed omnibus
Bill C-45. As Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo said in
his December 16 open letter, Chief Spence's hunger strike calls attention to
"the dire conditions which many First Nations communities and peoples face,"
and protests "the disrespect and shameful treatment of First Nations by the
Government of Canada."

We urge you to hear, as we do, the pain and determination that underlie
Chief Spence's actions, and her statement that "I'm willing to die for my
people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to
realize what (it's) doing to us." Her pain is shared by many Indigenous
communities and their leaders, and by many, many non-Aboriginal Canadians
who wish to end the legacy of colonization, inequality and abuse, and live
in justice and right relations between mainstream Canada and the First

We state clearly and unequivocally that we stand in solidarity with Chief
Spence's statement that "Canada is violating the right of Aboriginal peoples
to be self-determining and continues to ignore (their) constitutionally
protected Aboriginal and treaty rights in their lands, waters, and

As one of the Christian bodies that ran Indian Residential Schools in
collaboration with the Canadian government, The United Church of Canada
shares Canada's colonial legacy. In 1986, our denomination apologized to
Aboriginal peoples for confusing "Western ways and culture with the depth
and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ." In 1998, we
apologized specifically to former residential schools students and their
families, for the damage we inflicted in the residential schools process.


The challenge to all of us is to walk the road of justice and
reconciliation. We encourage you to meet in good faith with Chief Spence
before her health is further endangered by this hunger strike.

In faith,

Ray Jones,
Chair, Aboriginal Ministries Council
The United Church of Canada

The Rev. Bruce Gregersen,
General Council Officer, Programs
The United Church of Canada

Chief Theresa Spence, Attawapiskat First Nation National Chief Shawn Atleo,
Assembly of First Nations Hon. Thomas Mulcair, New Democratic Party of
Canada Hon. Bob Rae, Liberal Party of Canada
Daniel Paillé, Bloc Quebecois
Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada

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