The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Council of Canadians are calling on the provincial premiers to urge the Prime Minister to meet with Chief Theresa Spence before it is too late. Dave Coles, President of CEP, Paul Moist, President of CUPE, and Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, are asking the premiers to voice their support for an immediate meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chief Spence.
"No one level of government is solely responsible for the poor living conditions on First Nations reserves," said Moist, "and therefore it is in the interest of the premiers to help find a peaceful and safe resolution to this standoff."
Coles and Barlow met yesterday with Chief Spence and her advisors on Victoria Island, where the Attawapiskat Chief is now in her 14th day of a hunger strike. She is protesting the deplorable conditions in her community as well as Bill C-45, that allows the government to approve projects that could harm waterways on First Nations territories and was adopted by the federal government with no consultation with First Nations peoples.
"Chief Spence is only asking for a meeting with the Prime Minster," says Barlow. "Surely at this time of year, all our leaders must consider the human implications of allowing Chief Spence to die over political differences. We are urging the premiers to come forward to voice their support for a solution before a tragedy unfolds."
"If Chief Spence dies, it will be on the conscience of Prime Minister Harper," adds Coles. "All Canadians must do what they can to prevent this from happening."