By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 0 Comments
Danny Metatawabin, spokesman for the most influential woman in the country, took centre stage in her absence. Chief Theresa Spence was said to be under observation in a local hospital. Her protest—”hunger strike?” “fast?” “liquids-only diet?”—was now concluded, but she would not be here to mark the occasion.
There had been some delay in starting and there was some confusion about the seating arrangement, but now everyone had found a place at the table at the front of the National Press Theatre—Mr. Metatawabin, Manitoba elder Raymond Robinson, Saskatchewan Regional Chief Perry Bellegarde and Native Women’s Association of Canada president Michelle Audette, NDP MP Romeo Saganash and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae. Mr. Metatawabin was asked to speak first. He paused for a few seconds before beginning.
He offered a few words in his own language, acknowledged the Creator and Chief White Duck of the traditional Algonquin territory. “This is sage,” he said, holding up a bowl that he had placed in front of him. “But I’m not going to light it. It’s against fire regulations.” He smiled. “But it was a gesture … we had hoped to do a cleansing ceremony because I know media has been on our backs for the last six weeks now. And I know you mean well and I know at times the full story doesn’t get out there, to the Canadian public or even on the international stage. But what we have accomplished has gone international.”
He wore a brown leather vest and in his left hand he held an eagle feather.
“It is not only about Theresa Spence, it is not only about Raymond. And I’m passionate for protecting my treaty rights as well, but it wasn’t only for me. It was for the entire indigenous nations as well your future. Our future together. We must walk in harmony together. We must work together,” he said. “That was one of the messages that we always brought forth, since day one. All that we wanted was for the Prime Minister of Canada to invite the Governor General to meet with First Nations leadership. That’s all that we wanted.”
Merely that the elected head of government, the titular head of state and the elected representatives of some 600 communities meet for the purposes of beginning to fix the problems that have compounded over some 500 years of history. That’s all. Continue…