TORONTO, Dec. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence who is now into the third day of a hunger strike over her request to meet with the PM to discuss solutions to deteriorating conditions on the James Bay reserve.
"Stephen Harper's silence on Chief Spence''s simple request is deafening," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Instead of witnessing an honourable person like Theresa Spence slowly starve herself, the Prime Minister must show leadership on a serious aboriginal issue that keeps festering without any sign of resolution."
Chief Spence elected to begin her hunger strike in Ottawa on Dec. 11 when her repeated requests to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss Attawapiskat went unmet. The message she wants to deliver to the PM is that nothing has changed more than a year after she declared a state of emergency on the reserve because of crumbling infrastructure and rampant economic and social problems.
OPSEU Aboriginal Circle chair Pauline Saulnier likened conditions in Attawapiskat and dozens of other aboriginal reserves across northern Canada to "a shameful page out of some Third World country.
"Theresa Spence is one of our most respected leaders," said Saulnier. "Mr. Harper's refusal to meet with here is not just an insult to her but an insult to all aboriginal people in this country."
James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees, echoed OPSEU's demand that the Prime Minister meet with Chief Spence.
"Instead of doing photo ops with pop stars or newlyweds or kissing babies, Stephen Harper should organize an emergency meeting with Chief Spence and listen hard to what she has to say. The time for Harper to do nothing is over."
SOURCE: Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
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