As demanded by hunger-striking Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, both Canadian Prime Minister Kenneth Harper and Governor General David Johnston ended up meeting with First Nation leaders last Friday, 11 January, albeit not in the same meeting, and not with all First Nation leaders attending either of the meetings.
As a consequence of these disparities, Chief Spence announced that she would continue her hunger strike until the Prime Minister, the GG, and First Nation Chiefs can all agree to meet in one, big meeting. Her demand was supported Chiefs from Manitoba and Ontario. Among them, Grand Chief Gordon Peters said they prepared to block roads and rail lines tomorrow, Wednesday 16 January, unless their demands are being heard.
As Canada prepares to take over – by mid-May - the chairmanship of the Arctic Council with a program focused on resource developments, the Canadian Government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being met with a series of protests from aboriginal leaders.
The Idle No More movement, as the protest movement has been named, sprang up in November 2012 in response to the omnibus Bill C-45 presented by the Harper government.
According to the protesters, the way the bill was presented and passed as well as what it says concerning the management of waterways fail to measure up to standards for democratic due process, in general, and for respecting the rights of indigenous peoples to consultation and prior informed consent, in particular.
The Idle No More movement accuses Harper’s government of failing to acknowledge aboriginal peoples’ right to benefit fully from resource development, and leaving aboriginal leaders out of discussions on how to develop the country’s natural resources.