Statements

In Brief

The union movement is founded on solidarity and respect for human rights. We stand in solidarity with Chief Spence in her call for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston to meet with First Nations leaders.

Dear Chief Spence,

I write in support of your courageous campaign for respect for the rights of First Nations.

It is deplorable and unforgivable that any person lives in poverty in a nation as rich as ours. That so many First Nations communities are without safe water or adequate housing is shameful. The government of Canada's ongoing lack of respect for Treaty Rights and for the human and democratic rights of First Nations and aboriginal people must be addressed.

Your hunger strike has inspired the growing movement Idle No More that is bringing together First Nations activists and supporters to call for action on the shameful treatment of aboriginal people by the Government of Canada - both recently and historically.

Our union has decried Prime Minister Stephen Harper's anti-democratic omnibus budget bills that have made sweeping changes to our country's laws without adequate consultation with Canadians, and without the consent of or consultation with First Nations, whose lands and livelihoods will be severely affected.

Democratic and environmental rights have been ignored. First Nations' Treaty rights have been ignored.

The USW supports Amnesty International's joint statement that reads, in part: "These legislative measures were developed with little or no consultation with Aboriginal peoples and without their consent. Such actions erode democracy, the rule of law and integrity of Parliament."

We are not a poor country. We have the resources and the know-how to address poverty and ensure that aboriginal communities have safe water, good housing and are treated with dignity and respect.

What we need is the will to engage in dialogue.

The union movement is founded on solidarity and respect for human rights. We stand in solidarity with you, Chief Spence, in your call for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston to meet with First Nations leaders and engage in a meaningful dialogue about restoring respect for the rights of aboriginal people.

I am asking members of the USW to join me in writing to their MPs to express support for you and to ask those MPs in turn to urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take action and convene a meeting as you have requested.

Even as the length of your campaign weakens your physical strength, we have witnessed the strength of your spirit and resolve. Your commitment and dedication emboldens a growing movement across Canada and around the world for fairness, dignity, respect and human rights for First Nations.

The USW supports you, Chief Spence. We also support the Idle No More movement that your hunger strike has inspired.

In solidarity and respect,

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

www.idlenomore.ca