Ottawa (January 3, 2012): The World Sikh Organization of Canada stands in solidarity with Canada’s First Nations communities in calling for an urgent resolution to Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike and for substantive dialogue to address the challenges faced by Native Canadians.
Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike since December 11th, and protests by Idle No More, have once again turned the attention of all Canadians to First Nations issues. Whether it is the appalling suicide rate amongst First Nations youth, poor housing and living conditions in First Nations communities or the overrepresentation of Native Canadians in the criminal justice system, it is clear that a crisis exists that needs to be urgently addressed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his 2008 apology for the residential schools system spoke about the need of “forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians…”
Substantive steps must continue to take place in order to make this new relationship a reality.
As Chief Spence’s health continues to deteriorate , the Federal government and First Nations leaders must engage in a productive dialogue that results in real change. All Canadians also share the responsibility of improving the quality of life of Native Canadians and keeping First Nations’ issues at the forefront of the national consciousness.
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “Canada’s First Nations communities have suffered for far too long. Chief Spence has shown great courage in drawing attention to these issues at such an ongoing personal cost. It’s now time for dialogue and for solutions to be found before Chief Spence's health deteriorates any further."
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status