My family and I have just returned from the site where Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence is holding her hunger strike at Asinabka (known as Victoria Island and the Chaudière Falls) near the Portage Bridge which spans the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau. Asinabka is considered a sacred site, where for thousands of years ceremonies and offerings of tobacco have been made, and is located in the the heart of the unsurrendered land of the Algonquins of the Ottawa River Valley.
We brought some firewood (we saw that request in an e-mail noting their needs), were warmly greeted, signed our names in a guestbook, and basically spent our time there just being present. Chief Spence – who is in her 9th day of her hunger strike – was resting in a teepee just a few steps from where about twenty people were gathered around a fire. There was some drumming, and some conversation, but mostly it was a quiet and powerful gathering of support for her.
One of the striking things about the location of her hunger strike – beyond the teepee, the fire, a long-tent, and the cold damp chill in the air (it’s 0° Celsius this evening), is that one can look across the Ottawa River and clearly see Parliament Hill. And in one sense the federal government seems very close because of that, but equally so just out of reach, reinforcing how distanced the Harper government is from even beginning to have a dialogue and addressing the needs of Indigenous peoples.
I would encourage you to listen to Chief Spence describe in her own words her hunger strike, the reasons behind it, and her willingness to continue it to her last breath. A compelling and uncut 17-minute interview with her is available on the CBC website at http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/ID/2318285061/.
For more about this issue, please see the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/events/448271678567106/?fref=ts, as well as our campaign blogs in support of Chief Spence at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22theresa+spence%22.