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OPSEU stands behind Chief Theresa Spence

Friday, December 14, 2012   by: Staff



OPSEU supports First Nation Chief Spence's demand for meeting with prime minister

TORONTO - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence who is now into the third day of a hunger strike over her request to meet with the PM to discuss solutions to deteriorating conditions on the James Bay reserve.

"Stephen Harper's silence on Chief Spence''s simple request is deafening," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Instead of witnessing an honourable person like Theresa Spence slowly starve herself, the Prime Minister must show leadership on a serious aboriginal issue that keeps festering without any sign of resolution."

Chief Spence elected to begin her hunger strike in Ottawa on December 11 when her repeated requests to meet with the prime minister to discuss Attawapiskat went unmet.

The message she wants to deliver to the PM is that nothing has changed more than a year after she declared a state of emergency on the reserve because of crumbling infrastructure and rampant economic and social problems.

OPSEU Aboriginal Circle Chair Pauline Saulnier likened conditions in Attawapiskat and dozens of other aboriginal reserves across northern Canada to "a shameful page out of some Third World country".

"Theresa Spence is one of our most respected leaders," said Saulnier. "Mr. Harper's refusal to meet with her is not just an insult to her but an insult to all aboriginal people in this country."

James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees, echoed OPSEU's demand that the prime minister meet with Chief Spence.

"Instead of doing photo ops with pop stars or newlyweds or kissing babies, Stephen Harper should organize an emergency meeting with Chief Spence and listen hard to what she has to say. The time for Harper to do nothing is over."


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Prrrrrrr 12/14/2012 4:49:19 PM Report

OMG Steeworker, you are brutal...rotfl
Shortcut 12/14/2012 5:06:05 PM Report

Now this is a legal protest....... Stupid, but legal
steelworker 12/14/2012 5:34:46 PM Report

In other breaking news: a transport truck full of Doritos was stolen in the city of Ottawa last night. The truck was found abandoned and empty near Chief Spences' encampment. Police are investigating.
Tom_Bom 12/14/2012 7:22:55 PM Report

Bless her. A hunger strike is a big deal. Most people can fast for about 5 days without any problems if they're medically supervised, but I really hope harper listens to the crys of the native people.

I've said it once and I'll say it again. A country should not be judged on how it treats it's most wealthy and privileged, but by how it treats it's most vulnerable, poor people.

And right now, the Canadian government is not making any effort to take care of the Native Canadian people who choose to live on the reserves and preserve their culture.

We the signs everywhere, signs that talk about economic change and money being poured into canadas economic plan. Why not have an initiative to fix the reserves AS WELL as the highways that pass through them that they put so much money into fixing up.

Help the Native people of Canada, please Mr. Harper. Don't ignore them any longer.

And for the record no I am not Native. You shouldn't have to have the same heritage as someone to have compassion for them.

steelworker 12/14/2012 7:55:41 PM Report

...vulnerable poor people= the Canadian taxpayers.
Shortcut 12/14/2012 8:17:55 PM Report

I wonder why the deputy chief and other 18 councellors aren't joining in the hunger strike.

Interesting read
sea shell 12/14/2012 10:54:10 PM Report

All the negative comments on here are unacceptable! Have you ever been to the area, I would guess not! Shame on you "steel worker"! You would never survive living in those conditions!! Your comments are disgrace to the real steel workers!
Peter D. 12/15/2012 7:59:22 AM Report

I'm sick of hearing how poor these people are, and that the government is not giving them enough of my money. There are more jobs in Canada than workers, that is why we have to bring in foreign workers. If there are not enough jobs in your area, move to where the jobs are, that's what I had to do when I was 18, the government never gave me any free money to stay put.
debbiedoo 12/15/2012 9:48:58 AM Report

Right on Peter D! It's called responsible spending - which as we saw the chief and people in charge of their money know nothing about. Perhaps they should look in the mirror instead of starving themselves and take accountability for letting something like this get so out of control.
steelworker 12/15/2012 1:19:14 PM Report

So if you don't agree with someone you are making "hateful comments"? Buy a helmet;life is a contact sport.
67Tanger 12/16/2012 10:52:28 AM Report

Go back and read the past history of this reserve and how the chiefs and councilers were ripping off the common folk on the reserve. The three chiefs and 18 council members were raking high wages in each year (millions of dollars)

They recieve some $40 million/yr and if shared equally each household on the reserve would get $72,000. They have also recieved financial help from the diamond mine nearby ($50 million)

Also if you recall they had their school demolished because of not meeting todays standards and instead of replacing the school they built a brand new hockey arena along with a $75,000 zamboni.

If you watched Sun News....they also showed a $60,000 GM truck on it's roof
in a ravine and a large flat screen tv in the same house that had an interior with only insulation and plastic vapour barrier on the walls.

If these people scrutinized the spending by their council members I do not think they would need anymore handouts by the taxpayers hardearned money.

CBC does not give all the facts and portray the whole reserve as being poverty stricken.

Check the bank accounts of the elders before dishing out more funds then if they need more all means
help them out......
shaddow 12/18/2012 7:07:18 AM Report

I have read an article in the Financial Post by Mark Milke - Release date Dec. 9,2011. Attawapiskat & Chief Theresa Spence. I read that article & I am dumbfounded that OPSEU would defend this person that blocks an outside investigation into its $31.2 million annual operating budget for 1,549 people. If you wish go to the following & read the whole story:
shaddow 12/18/2012 7:18:31 AM Report

Sorry I left off the ending to the story article for anyone to contact. Please ADD: 2147484000 . Thanks .......
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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