TORONTO/OTTAWA, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - Two of the country's largest
private sector unions are calling on the federal government to meet
with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence immediately, leading into a
formal treaty meeting with First Nations.
The Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and
Paperworkers Union are expressing concern for Chief Spence's safety as
she goes into her second week of a hunger strike, demanding a meeting
with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston.
The unions urge the federal government to use a collective bargaining
approach with the First Nations people over treaty rights.
"For our entire existence as a country, the federal government has
abused the rights of the First Nations people," said CAW National
President Ken Lewenza. "This is no more apparent than in Chief
Spence's community of Attawapiskat where a year later, the town is
still without adequate housing and infrastructure as the winter sets
Lewenza said that he and many others have been deeply moved by the
courage and tenacity shown by Chief Spence, who is in the seventh day
of the hunger strike. The union leaders are adding their voices to the
legions of supporters through the emerging #Idlenomore movement. During
the hunger strike, Chief Spence is living in a teepee on Victoria
Island in the Ottawa River, near the Supreme Court of Canada and the
House of Commons.
"Chief Theresa Spence's fight for her people is similar to that labour
movement and so many other groups - the fight for dignity, respect, and
equality," said CEP National President Dave Coles. "It is urgently
necessary that the government reach an equitable agreement with the
First Nations people. As a country, we know all too well the reality of
centuries of colonization, inequality and abuse.
"On behalf of more than 300,000 working women and men across Canada, we
are urging the federal government to live up to its responsibility to
aboriginal people and meet with Chief Theresa Spence and other
aboriginal leaders," said Coles.
SOURCE: Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information:
CEP National President Dave Coles (cell) 613-299-5628
CAW Communications Director Shannon Devine (cell) 416-302-1699 firstname.lastname@example.org