Grand Elder Raymond Robinson of the Cross Lake Nation in Manitoba, Canada, is now in his fourth day of hunger- and thirst-strike protesting the Harper administration's massive removal of Canadian environmental protections and Indigenous treaty rights, opening up the transcontinental boreal forest to unlimited Tar Sands devastation. Matthew Fox responds to the protest:
I join with thousands of others in prayer to support Elder Robinson and Chief Theresa Spence and others for their generous witness in standing for justice for Mother Earth and all her creatures. We share solidarity with them and the First Nations peoples who have always known that care for the Earth precedes the misbegotten money schemes that only seek to engender greed and separation in individuals and communities. All people are diminished when profit takes precedence over the health and beauty of our waters and soil and our four-legged brothers and sisters. It is our children especially who will suffer from such greed and rapaciousness for their lives will be less beautiful and less healthy. Future generations will ask us: Where were you when they came to destroy Mother Earth in the name of corporate profits? Let us all stand up and be heard and be Idle No More.
Rev. Matthew Fox author of "Original Blessing"
_______________________________________________________ (Anonymous background article reposted from the Occupy Canada and other Facebook pages)
April 5th, 2013, at 9:30, Grand Elder Raymond Robinson has been without food or water for 63 hours. The most that a person can survive without water is maximum 4 days, which is 96 hours. This means with each passing minute, Elder Robinson is closer to death. Earlier this year, he broke a 44 day fast after fasting to support Chief Theresa Spence and everything she stood for, which was to bring attention to the plight of First Nation Peoples.
This time Elder Robinson is on a hunger strike in protest to the passing of bills (government policies), which will bring about horrific damage to the environment. Because the pipe lines need to pass through our reserves or the camps need to be located on the reserves, Elder Robinson stated, ‘First Nations are being blackmailed into signing their rights away. These changes have been implemented without any consultation... They are asking us to give up our waters our lands our resources and even our Inherent Aboriginal Treaty Rights’. To his word, he has been on a hunger strike; the food is not the biggest concern because for the human body, water is essential for life.
Elder Robinson from Cross Lake Nation in Manitoba, asks that the government recognize that the First Nations peoples have a right to clean water, hydro education, proper health care, the right to have a voice on what takes place within their territories, among other basic human rights that others members of society are privileged to have and take for granted. He states that the passing of the bills will deny these basic rights to First Nations peoples, which was Chief Spence’s message during her fast. Sadly, the response months later from the federal government was to have this new bill quietly passed without consultation of the First Nation leadership. Elder Robinson is asking for the repeal of the bills and that the Prime Minister, follow through with his January 11th, 2012 promise to meet face-to-face with the First Nations Chiefs.
On April 3rd, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s spokesperson, Jason MacDonald had this to say about the Elder Robinson’s hunger strike, ‘Like all reasonable people we encourage, Raymond Robinson to continue to consume food and water.’ However, Aboriginal Affairs supports the bills that deprive children of clean water and fundamental basics as reasonable. Today, Aboriginal Affairs Minster Bernard Valcourt met with Elder Robinson and said, ‘I’ll make you deal, if you quit your hunger strike and I’ll visit your reserve.’ Elder Robinson said, ‘I said to him (Aboriginal Affairs Minster Bernard Valcourt), ask the prime minister to meet with our nation leaders. To which he said, ‘that is not going to happen,’ and then he laughed.’
Elder Robinson asks, ‘are my people a laughing matter?’ No. It is time for the Prime Minister to start respecting the First peoples of Canada as well as the land base we live upon. The general public is being told that the chiefs do not want the bill to be passed because they would have to report their earnings. This is a distraction to what is really being opposed and that the government is making decision on the First Nations behalf. So what exactly are the laws that Elder Robinson are opposing through his hunger strike? They are the Omnibus Bills C38 and C45, which contain changes to over 90 Federal Laws. The laws include: changes that affect the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act - developers are no longer be responsible for fixing the environment and habitat damage they cause. The First Nations peoples stand to be at the greatest risk of environmental exploitation, because the law is designed to provide for quick development access to resource extraction industries of which most occur on First Nations' Land. Other Acts include Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which decreases opportunity for First Nations' involvement in Environmental Assessments as well as ending environmental assessments. The National Energy Board Act, which limits the ability to challenge decisions of the Federal Cabinet with regards to project approvals. Other changes that will affect the omnibus bills are Canada Grain Act, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Indian Act and Public Sector pensions.
And, so why should these change be so scary for us. We need only what occurred during the recent oil spill in Arkansas, where Exxon was off the hook for paying into the federal oil spill fund responsible for cleaning up the spill in Arkansas, because tar sands because isn't classified as oil under the law. Is this what Elder Robinson sees for our future? Oil companies destroying the land and then afterward using loopholes in the law to leave our lands destroyed for the next generations. Which means that the already disadvantages peoples would be a greater disadvantage as the land is destroyed around them.
Instead what do some members of society focus on? Sadly, they believe the lies that Elder Robinson is upset that band leadership will have to report their income. Do the people who make these kinds of statements really think that the traditional stewards of the land care about currency? First, I think most people would be shocked at the low income of some of the nations chief and councilors; however, it is not what Elder Robinson is slowly dying because of (mere money); rather he is hoping the Creator will intervene and Mother Earth will be left to continue nourish her children for generations to come.
Elder Robinson has told us that he is willing to suffer on behalf of his people and he is doing that. The simple fact is that with each hour, his body shuts down just a little bit more. My relatives please join my prayer for Elder Robinson. Please spend a moment sending light and love towards this beautiful and love filled warrior. (ejh)