National Union calls on Prime Minister to meet with First Nations Chief on hunger strike

"Instead of doing photo opportunities with pop stars or newlyweds or kissing babies he should be meeting with Chief Theresa Spence in an effort to help First Nations communities.” - James Clancy, National President, NUPGE

Ottawa (12 Dec. 2012) – The continued refusal of the Prime Minister to meet with Northern Ontario First Nations community Attawapiskat's Chief Theresa Spence, despite her being on a hunger strike, is prompting the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) to speak out.

“If he can find time in his schedule to meet Justin Bieber,” said NUPGE's National President James Clancy, “he can find the time to meet with Chief Spence.”

“This government has an obligation to meet with First Nations leaders to engage in a dialogue on a range of important issues,” said Clancy. “Instead of doing photo opportunities with pop stars or newlyweds or kissing babies he should be meeting with Chief Theresa Spence in an effort to help First Nations communities.”

Chief Spence launched her hunger strike in Ottawa with the goal of having Prime Minister Stephen Harper agree to a treaty meeting with First Nations.

“I will return to my traditional territory after such a meeting is held, or return to spend time with my ancestors in the traditional lands of my people,” said Spence. "I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what it's doing to us."

Her decision to begin a hunger strike was reached “after a long period of reflection, the time is at hand for a clear statement.”

“I admire the stand that Chief Spence is taking,” said Warren “Smokey” Thomas, Vice-President (Ontario) of NUPGE and President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

“The way in which our federal government has treated our First Nations is appalling. It is time to set things right!”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE