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NEWS: Chief Spence’s hunger strike, the CN rail blockade and more

Photo by Michael Kannon

Flash mob at the St. Vital Centre mall in Winnipeg. Photo by Michael Kannon.

On the 17th day of Chief Spence’s hunger strike, the Globe and Mail reports (in a front-page story), “The Attawapiskat chief (says) she will fast until the federal government gives in to her demand for a meeting among First Nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a representative of the Crown (Governor-General David Johnston). Ms. Spence wants to discuss the treaty that was signed in the first decade of the last century that covered a broad swath of Northern Ontario, including her own impoverished reserve. It promised money, education and health care in exchange for sharing the land. Ms. Spence, like the descendants of the signatories of similar treaties across the country, says Canada is no longer living up to its part of the bargain. So, two weeks ago, after listening to other chiefs at a national gathering complain about the problems affecting their people, the 49-year-old mother of five girls embarked on a hunger strike, consuming only water, fish broth and medicinal tea. …(Chief Spence says), ‘If I have to take my last breath, I will. But it’s not going to stop there. There is a message out there from the youth who say, if the chief

This morning, the 7th day of the blockade of a CN rail line near Sarnia by the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, the Sarnia Observer reports, “Spokesperson Ron Plain said members of the group were resolved to maintain the blockade… CN successfully applied for a court injunction to end the blockade but the order left it up to Sarnia Police to decide how it would be enforced. …(Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says), ‘As long as people are talking and we’re trying to find a solution, they don’t intend to proceed,’…Plain said the railway was expected to be back in court Thursday seeking another court order. …(Plain says), ‘We’re going to ask CN to prove where they have permission of Aamjiwnaang to be on our territory.’ …On Christmas Eve, an estimated 200 people attended a rally at Sarnia City Hall and then marched down a short stretch of Highway 402. …The crowd included residents Aamjiwnaang, Walpole Island, Kettle and Stony Point, Chippewas of the Thames, Six Nations and several other First Nations communities across Ontario.”

680 News reports this hour, “A First Nations CN rail blockade near Sault Ste Marie in northern Ontario is set to begin (today), joining the blockade taking place in Sarnia. A Facebook event page invites the public to join members of the Garden River and Batchewana First Nations in a peaceful protest at a lumber yard west of the city. An organizer of the protest says demonstrators will also march to the edge of the city, slowing down traffic and handing out flyers.”

And among the many actions across the country and around the world yesterday, there was a ‘Round Dance Flash Mob’ at the Rideau Centre shopping mall, which is located just a few hundred metres to the east of Parliament Hill. It was also great to see photos of Dave Bleakney and Brigette DePape at the flash mob at the St. Vital Centre mall in Winnipeg.

Please send your messages to the Prime Minister at pm@pm.gc.ca and Governor-General at info@gg.ca.

To read more, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/as-protests-swell-attawapiskat-chief-stands-firm-on-hunger-strike/article6734968/; http://www.theobserver.ca/2012/12/24/sarnia-officials-seek-a-peaceful-a-solution-to-first-nation-rail-blockade; http://www.680news.com/2012/12/27/first-nations-rail-blockade-and-protest-to-expand-to-sault-ste-marie/; and http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Senator+Patrick+Brazeau+urges+Theresa+Spence+reject+hunger/7745907/story.html.