By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Jan. 6, 2013:
Idle No More protest on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Dec 21 2012
Yesterday, Idle No More, the grassroots movement for Aboriginal justice, flexed its muscle with peaceful blockages of bridges and border crossings across Canada. Dr. Pamela Palmater, an indigenous activist and chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, says #IdleNoMore is pushing back at the aggressive assimilation agenda of the right-wing Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This insidious and racist agenda finds expression in two omnibus “budget” bills, C-38 and C-45, which the Conservatives recently rammed through Parliament with very little consultation and debate.
The movement’s key inspiration, Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, is in Day 27 of her hunger strike in sub-zero temperatures on Victoria Island, a short distance from Parliament Hill.
By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive:
During my 85-day hunger strike against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s New Jim Crow-style crime Bill C-10, the deceptively christened “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, a prominent opposition MP told me hunger protests weren’t part of the process of democratic engagement in Canada. I was shocked and disappointed.
First, during our conversation on the steps leading to the Parliament building, the individual mentioned that he was associated with social activist and former senator, Jacques Hébert. Twenty-six years ago, Hébert completed a 21-day hunger strike protesting former Tory prime minister Brian Mulroney’s decision to nuke the Katimavik project. Second, until this moment, I’d assumed that the individual would know that Ghandi’s hunger strikes facilitated the demise of British colonial rule in India.
Chief Theresa Spence (Centre) on Parliament, Day 1 of her hunger strike
by Obert Madondo:
If it’s a Christmas present, it’s a terrible one. No, an insult. A window into the insidious, hostile and frozen core of political power in Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Yesterday, Christmas Day, Harper’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan wrote to Chief Spence, whose indefinite hunger strike here in Ottawa has now entered its third week. We’re told that Duncan expressed his concern for Spence’s health. That he urged her to end her protest, which began on December 11.
“I remain concerned about your health and hope that you will accept my offer to speak about how we might move forward with improving the treaty relationship,” Duncan wrote.