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NEWS: Ellen Gabriel calls on Harper and Johnston to meet with Chief Spence

Gabriel speaks at the Council of Canadians annual conference in Montreal, October 21, 2011.

Gabriel speaks at the Council of Canadians annual conference in Montreal, October 21, 2011.

The Canadian Press reports, “Ellen Gabriel of the Indigenous Women of Turtle Island and Leanne Simpson delivered a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pleading with him and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to meet with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. …Gabriel says a simple gesture from the prime minister to meet with Spence might end her liquids-only protest. …Spence is continuing a hunger protest that began on Dec. 11 to persuade Harper and Johnston to meet together with First Nations leaders to talk about the plight of aboriginal people.”

The article highlights, “Harper is being accused of fostering hatred of aboriginals across the country by failing to condemn racist reactions to the Idle No More movement. Gabriel says there are strong and growing racial undertones to much of the reaction she has seen so far to the protests over aboriginal treaty rights. And she says that kind of visceral reaction hasn’t been seen in Canada since the Oka crisis in the 1990s.”

As noted on the Assembly of First Nations website, “Ms. Gabriel was well-known to the public when she was chosen by the People of the Longhouse and her community of Kanehsatà:ke to be their spokesperson during the 1990 ‘Oka’ Crisis; to protect the Pines from the expansion of a 9 hole golf course in ‘Oka’. For the past 22 years she has been a human rights advocate for the collective and individual rights of Indigenous peoples and has worked diligently to sensitize the public, academics, policing authorities and politicians on the history, culture and identity of Indigenous peoples. …She has been active at the international level participating at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues, negotiations on the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biodiversity and most recently, at the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”