Spence issues urgent call for UN to help First Nations

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence speaks with journalists about her hunger strike



OTTAWA - Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence wants the United Nations to intervene on the federal First Nations file.

Spence, who ended a high-profile, 43-day personal protest in Ottawa in January, is now appealing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Spence, the International Indian Treaty Council and the Mushkegowuk People of Attawapiskat First Nation have filed an 'urgent action' submission with the CERD.

It makes six recommendations to the Canadian government, including a call for an "immediate meeting" with the Crown, federal government, provincial governments and all First Nations to discuss treaties.

Spence previously called for a joint meeting as part of her protest but feds agreed to meet with some First Nations leaders, including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston did not attend discussions, despite repeated demands from Indigenous leaders, because the feds said it would be "inappropriate" for him to participate in working meetings.

Spence's UN appeal also calls for Canada to express a commitment towards "resource sharing" and to probe implications of two government budget bills.

The budget legislation is currently being challenged in court by two Alberta First Nations over allegations of a lack of consultation.

Former aboriginal affairs minister John Duncan signalled the feds would not repeal the pieces of legislation, which served as a lightning rod for controversy during the recent Idle No More movement.

Conservative MP Bernard Valcourt was named aboriginal affairs minister on Friday after Duncan resigned due to an ethical breach.


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