KAIROS Calls for Solidarity Fast with Chief Spence January 11


Women lead a KAIROS solidarity action on Parliament Hill, June 2011. Photo: KAIROS/Sara Stratton

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 Canada. KAIROS welcomes this meeting as a response to the Chief’s call, and as she prepares for the meeting, we call on our network to join in a Solidarity Fast with Chief Spence on Friday, January 11.

Is this not the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,

let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Isaiah 58:6

On December 11, 2012, Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation on James Bay in Northern Ontario began a fast to call attention to the Federal Government’s failure to live up to its Treaty relationship with Canada’s First Peoples, and asking for a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Governor General (as the representative of the Crown). Thousands of Canadians have supported the Chief in her call and action.On January 4, Prime Minister Harper indicated that he will meet with First Nations leaders on January 11 – the one month anniversary of the Chief’s fast. Chief Spence will attend the meeting, but has also said she will continue to fast, taking only water, fish broth, and medicinal tea until the meeting takes place.

KAIROS has delivered a solidarity message to Chief Spence and we have encouraged our network to do so as well. The Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) joined KAIROS and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups in a joint statement expressing solidarity with the Chief. The United Church of Canada urged the Prime Minister to meet with Chief Spence, stating that “the challenge to all of us is to walk the road of justice and reconciliation. The Anglican Church of Canada noted in a letter to the Prime Minister that “in meeting with Chief Spence, in meeting with First Nations leaders towards a reconciled and just relationship, you will make real your apology of 2008.”

Other churches, faith communities and individuals have also expressed their solidarity with the Chief through prayer, letter-writing, and participation in round dances and demonstrations, including those organized by the Idle No More movement. Some have chosen to fast in solidarity with the Chief.

KAIROS is now asking you to continue the journey towards right relationship by fasting in solidarity with Chief Spence on Friday, January 11, when the meeting with First Nations leaders is scheduled to take place.

WHO SHOULD FAST? 

We would like everyone in the KAIROS community to be able to participate in a 24 hour Solidarity Fast with Chief Spence but we recognize that, for reasons of health, this is not an option for all. If you have any concerns about participating in this action, please consult your physician.

HOW SHOULD I FAST? 

  • If you are medically able, we ask you to forgo solid food for 24 hours in the same way that Chief Spence has for the past weeks. Consume clear liquids only – water, herbal teas, and broths.
  • If you are not medically able to do this, but are able to forgo one meal, then please do so and make this your Solidarity Fast with Chief Spence.
  • If you are not medically able to miss a meal, please consider what you can do within your dietary regime as a symbolic action of solidarity.

CAN I ALSO EXPRESS MY SOLIDARITY IN PRAYER?

Yes!  We encourage you to begin your fast with this reading from Isaiah 58: 6-12 (or another sacred text from your tradition).  You may choose to read  aloud or in silence, as individuals, a family, or a community.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

WHAT  ELSE SHOULD I DO?

Isaiah 58 tells us that the true fast is to take action for justice. Please contact the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and your Member of Parliament before January 11, with the following points:

  • Express your support for this meeting as a response to the call of Chief Spence.
  • Explain to them that you will be fasting in solidarity with the Chief while the meeting is going on,
  • State your belief in nation-to-nation relationships and respect for Treaties.
  • Indicate your hope that this meeting will be a critical first step in just and equitable relationship with Indigenous peoples in this country.
  • You may also wish to remind them of the Government’s promise, made in the 2008 Apology to Survivors of Indian Residential Schools, to “[forge] a new relationship between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together …” adding that this is a commitment that you also hold sacred.

Contact information:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Phone: 613-992-4211
Fax: 613-941-6900
E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa ON K1A 0A1
Phone:  613-993-8200 or 1-800-465-6890
Fax:   613-998-8760
Email:  info@gg.ca

Contact information for Members of Parliament can be found on the parliamentary website.

Please also let KAIROS know of your action. You can email Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator Katy Quinn, tag us on Twitter, or post on our Facebook page.

KAIROS thanks you for honouring Chief Spence’s vision, and for your commitment to building a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, a relationship rooted in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our collective commitment to truth, reconciliation and equity.

For more information:

Background Information from KAIROS on Chief Spence’s Fast

KAIROS Solidarity Letter to Chief Spence

Joint Civil Society Statement in Support of Chief Spence and Idle No More

United Church of Canada Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding Chief Spence

Anglican Church of Canada Letter to Prime Minister Harper Regarding Chief Spence

 


Filed in: Indigenous Rights, UNDRIP Blog Updates

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