December 30th, 2012

PM must show leadership, agree to meeting with First Nations leaders

NDP says swift action needed to avoid tragedy as hunger strike enters fourth week

As Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike enters its fourth week, New Democrats are calling on the Prime Minister to show leadership and avoid a tragedy.

"We are urging the Prime Minister to act swiftly, in a spirit of reconciliation, and assure Chief Spence he will meet this January with elected Aboriginal leaders," said Paul Dewar after visiting with Chief Spence. "As the New Year dawns, the government must live up to its past commitments and begin forging a more respectful relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples."

Dewar was joined by Charlie Angus, Mathieu Ravignat and a strong delegation of NDP MPs in visiting Chief Spence on day 20 of her hunger strike.

"New Democrats join with Canadians from coast to coast to coast in expressing their concern for Chief Spence's health," said Angus, the Attawapiskat Chief's local MP. "She is voicing concerns shared by many across the country and simply asking for respectful dialogue between the government and elected Aboriginal leadership."

With a growing wave of grassroots action sweeping First Nation communities, including hunger strikes in other regions, the NDP said concrete action is needed to address the legitimate issues being raised.

"Now is the time for leaders to sit down together and work out solutions -- and New Democrats stand ready to assist in these efforts," said Ravignat. "The government must fulfill its promises from last January's meetings and start working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples."