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Canada hunger strike highlights many issues
It has not been reported in the local media, but in Canada, Chief Theresa Spence is currently on the 23rd day of a hunger strike. Similar to Wayne Kublalsingh, she wants to meet with the country’s prime minister in order to discuss environmental issues relating to land usage.
As I have followed the ‘Idle no more’ campaign, I have noticed a distinct difference in the approach of both the campaign organisers and the media in Canada. For the most part the discussion has not focused on Chief Spence, the way that we have focused on Dr Kublalsingh.
The Idle no more organisers took advantage of the Christmas shopping season to stage ‘teach ins’ at malls. This allowed the general public to become informed about the issues relating to the dispute. The track record of the diamond mining company which was granted a concession on the Attawapiskat reserve, in dealing with both workers and inhabitants near their mines has been clearly highlighted.
The poor living conditions and pollution on the reserve have also been well documented. Indeed, I am certain many Trinidadians live in better conditions despite third world status of the country and Canada’s first world status. And most importantly, they have clearly articulated a message for which supporters would be able to find resonance.
“I am an ally. I am not Indian, or Native American, or First Nations, or Metis, or Inuit, or indigenous. I am not even Canadian. But I support human rights, the protection of the environment and democracy, and the notion that elected governments should act honestly and honourably in carrying out their obligations to all their people.”
Lystra Ko Chin
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