On Friday, January 4, the Prime Minister announced that he would meet with First Nations leaders on January 11, the one month anniversary of Chief Theresa Spence’s fast, to bring attention to the treaty relationship between First Nations and the government of Canada. This is indeed a good step towards making right our relationship with First Nations’ people. On Friday this week, KAIROS Canada, www.kairoscanada.org is inviting faith communities and others to join in a day of fast as a symbolic action of solidarity with our First Nations brothers and sisters. We invite all the readers of this blog to join us in this action.
I am also adding to this, a copy of the letter that our Office for Systemic Justice wrote to the Prime Minister on January 2nd, on behalf of all the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada, urging him to sit down with First Nations’ Leaders.
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
As non-Indigenous Canadians, we are keenly aware that our relationship with the Indigenous peoples of Canada is founded on colonial patterns and practices that have shaped significantly the poverty and marginalization of the First Nations peoples. In the light of this reality, we urge you, as the prime minister of our country, to engage Chief Teresa Spence in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation process.
As you noted in the 2008 apology to Indigenous peoples, Canada has long needed a new and just relationship with the First Nations. Chief Spence’s request to begin a new process of consultation with regard to the nation to nation relationship between Canada and First Nations can be seen as another opportunity to shift the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.
Chief Spence’s fast is a particularly stark example of the desires for transformation that are gathering around the Idle No More movement in Canada. This movement is spotlighting the many critical issues that need to be addressed if we are truly to have reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people: poverty, housing, sanitation, water, health and education as well as water rights and land rights.
Like many Canadians, we share Indigenous concerns about these issues. In addition, we believe that the protection of aboriginal and treaty rights also can be an effective vehicle for protecting the land, water, plants and animals. It is one of many ways that all Canadians can benefit from Indigenous traditions.
We believe that this is a graced moment in Canada. We urge you to respond to both Chief Teresa Spence and the wider Idle No More movement in the true spirit of reconciliation, thereby opening all people in Canada to a future filled with hope. (written by Sue Wilson, CSJ)
There is a time for everything… Now is the time!
Joan Atkinson, CSJ