Saturday, December 22, 2012

Settlers in Solidarity with Chief Spence Phoning Campaign Begins

Yesterday we stood on the frozen ground in front of the one hundred year old limestone legislature, waving signs and listening to elders, chiefs, and politicians. Andrea, Char and I stood at the back with the sign Michael made, "We Are All Treaty People" in black, yellow, white and red.

I drove home with Marg and found nobody along highway one, and we were cold and tired, so we turned onto highway ten, home to the Qu'Appelle Valley. At the house my daughters had cleaned and baked all day for their long-anticipated, by-invitation, dress-up Christmas party. I broke my twenty-four hour fast in solidarity with Chief Spence with a donut hole, rolled in crushed candy cane, my daughter made from scratch. I had a hot bath and went to bed, waking up with the sound of doorbells, boots scuffling, and giddy laughter.

This morning I wake up to a tidied house. I make some coffee. So much to be thankful in my warm home, full of baking and love.

But then my heart quiets, and I listen to a long-distant call, way over in Ottawa, from a woman who is ready to die for her people, now nearing the third week of her hunger strike.

"I will initiate a phoning campaign to follow-up on what my provincial leaders have done toward this essential meeting," I said in my letter to the Saskatchewan MLAs and Premier Wall. "I urge you to utilize your influence with Canada's prime Minister and ensure he meets immediately with Chief Spence, servant -to-servant, nation-to-nation."

I start alphabetically. Buckley Belanger from Athabaska speaks his own name of the message manager, but his mailbox is full. Bob Bjornerud of Melville-Saltcoats, his number, 787-4300, is a caucus number, so I leave a message. Bill Boyd of Kindersley, his message says that "this is not a valid mailbox number." Fred Bradshaw of Carrot River and Greg Brkich of Arm River both list 787-4300, so I've already left a message. Cam Broten leaves a message forwarding to his constituency office in Saskatoon Massey Place. I phone that number and leave a message. Jennifer Campeau of Saskatoon Fairview also has the 787-4300 number.

I call Danielle Chartier's from Saskatoon Riversdale. Her leg. number forwards me to her constituency number which says, "if you have an emergency" call the NDP caucus office. I think, we have an emergency, I'm calling. The caucus number's message is from Cheryl Stecyk who says that we can try to reach her on her cell. I call. She answers.

I tell her that I have emailed all the provincial MLAs and hand-delivered their hard copies to Trent Wotherspoon who was on the steps of the legislature yesterday -- his white ears turning pinker and pinker without a toque -- at the Idle No More Regina Walk. Cheryl listens.

I tell her that I'm very concerned about Chief Spence on her hunger strike and I'm initiating a phoning campaign to track what our provincial leaders are doing in response to this urgent situation. I also tell her that I'm a blogger and I'll be sharing the responses on my blog. Cheryl listens and then asks, "Okay, so what is it that you want me to do?" Good question, I think.

Dear Cheryl,

I want you to ask your nine NDP MLAs if they are doing everything in their power to intervene on behalf of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation as she nears her third week of a hunger strike?
  • Have they written a letter to Prime Minister Harper and the leaders of official parties?
  • Have they phoned their Ottawa contacts, networking at every level?
  • Have they utilized their email and phoning trees encouraging their constituents to write, walk, phone on behalf of Chief Spence?
  • Have they fasted and/or prayed? (not to be answered, but to be considered).
Please forward my two letters to anyone who wishes to write to Prime Minister Harper and to Premier Brad. They may use any of my words in the letter as their own. and (National Chief Shawn Atleo, Assembly of First Nations)
Daniel Pailee, Bloc Quebecois (couldn't find his email, but sent a letter)
(for list of Saskatchewan MLA's emails go to

Please send along thanks to both Warren McCall and Trent Wotherspoon who were on the steps of the leg yesterday in solidarity with Chief Spence and Idle No More. Also, Trent told me that Thomas Mulcair and others have met with Chief Spence in Ottawa. Please send along thanks in any communication you may have with your Ottawa contacts.

As a Settler in Solidarity with Chief Spence,
Sheena Koops
Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan

Listening to Elder Mike Pinay with Blair and Andrea at Angus and 5th.

Char and I posing on Albert Street Bridge after the Friendship Round Dance.

At the Saskatchewan Legislature with Andrea
(thanks Bernadette for the great picture).

Our view at the Legislative building.

Marg, Sue and I met at the Outreach in Fort Qu'Appelle before the Idle No More Regina Walk to write letters, share our information, share community with our friends at the Outreach, and launch our Idle No More plans. Marg drove and I texted all the way into Regina (coordinating with Kate, Andrea, Char, and Jade) while Sue went to The House of Prayer where she was able to take our cause to the highest power.

Moira and Justice giving us some tunes.
(Did Justice really walk all the way from Standing Buffalo???)
Best friends

Photo bombing at the Christmas tree

Every good party ends in the kitchen!

Sierra and Greg, the day after his surgery. Crazy kids.


  1. Oh, Sheena Koops, your words and actions bring tears to my eyes. Thank you, friend, for your good work and for the inspiration to continue my work on this most important issue. I will begin calling today.

    And, I will take your message, here, to Ryan Meili's campaign for Leader because he, too, has been very active on this file, but in Saskatoon, where he is based.

    Blessings of the season to you and yours.

    (And a donut hole is a great way to break a fast! I broke mine last week with a butter tart!)

  2. Thank you Sheena Koops. I have at times been a little confused on how I Describe myself because I am of German and Metis ancestry and when I married I was identified as a Treaty Indian with a Treaty number. When I fill out a census for Canada I put all of these down as I now realize it doesn`t really matter because I am part of all that and proud of my mixed heritage. I thank you and Char for taking the time to walk in the Idle no more walk to the legislature in Regina yesterday. I thank Michael for the awesome sign that really says it all. I pray along with everyone else to God our Creator that Mr. Harper meets with Chief Spence for she truly is a hero along with everyone else who fasted. I thank tank you to Settlers in solidarity writing to Mr. Harper, Mp`s and our MLAs in Saskatchewan. I will be doing my part as well by writing letters to anyone that may have influence on this Prime Minister, Mr. Harper. Again thank you kind lady.

  3. There is a letter here: It auto-sends to the Prime Minister and federal party leaders as well as your Member of Parliament. If I knew how to set one of those things up, I make up one that went to all Premiers and Leaders of the Opposition.