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Atleo urges PM GG to accept treaty meeting invitation to quell protests

first_imgBy Jorge Barrera APTN National News OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston have been invited to attend a treaty meeting on Jan. 24, the one-year anniversary of the Crown-First Nations gathering.In a letter sent on New Year’s Day to Harper and Johnston, Atleo urges both men to immediately accept the invitation to quell escalating cross-country protests and bring an end to the hunger strikes by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and Cross Lake Elder Raymond Robinson.“Immediate acceptance to this urgent invitation will, both respond to the health of Chief Spence and Raymond Robinson and enable those currently demonstrating for such a meeting to return to their communities and to their responsibilities,” wrote Atleo, in the Jan. 1 letter obtained by APTN National News. “We can then support and enable focused dialogue and work led by each First Nation, within every treaty area on matters of greatest importance.”Spence began her hunger strike on Dec. 11 and Robinson on Dec. 12. The Idle No More, grassroots movement has also been sweeping the country through flash mob round dances, rallies and blockades, and it has generated considerable support in the U.S. and around the world.A number of rail blockades have also been launched over the past few weeks, including two in Ontario, one in British Columbia and an ongoing rail blockade in northeastern Quebec.In the letter, Atleo said First Nations chiefs recently held emergency discussions and that the leadership is “determined to set a course of resolution for our people.”The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment on whether they were open to participating in the meeting.A spokeswoman for Johnston said they had received the invitation.“A reply will be shared with the Assembly of First Nations in due course,” said Julie Rocheleau, in an email to APTN National News.Atleo did not mention location of the treaty meeting, however, some chiefs have pushed to have it held in Saskatchewan. Last year’s Crown-First Nations gathering was held in Ottawa.There was also no mention in the letter of a planned Jan. 16 day of action, but Atleo wrote that First Nations would be “meeting and assessing their strategies for change needed urgently in the days and weeks ahead.”During the emergency meetings, which were co-chaired by Serpent River Chief Isadore Day, from Ontario, and Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Wallace Fox, from Saskatchewan, chiefs discussed setting Jan. 16 as a day of action that could see economic disruptions across the country.The participating chiefs also issued a letter signed by “First Nation leaders of Turtle Island” following their meetings and called on Harper to uphold the “honour of the Crown.”In an interview Thursday, Fox said he was disappointed with Atleo’s letter and said it didn’t reflect the direction the national chief received following a meeting on Monday. Fox said Atleo was asked to include Saskatchewan as the location for the proposed treaty meeting and to mention Jan. 16 as a set day of action.Fox said Atleo was also told by the Spence camp to include a deadline for response in the letter to the prime minister and governor general.“I am very disappointed with the way it was drafted, that is not what was understood on Monday when he was present,” said Fox.Fox said if Harper and Johnston reject the invitation, then the day of action should be moved up to the middle of next week.“It’s (Spence’s) health that is the immediate priority here,” said Fox.APTN National News has obtained minutes from a conference call between Treaty 1 to 11 chiefs on Dec. 28, 2012, which discussed plans to target “main economic and energy corridors, such as power sources, railways and highways.”According to the minutes, “it was agreed that in the short-term, immediate pressure needs to be stepped up because Chief Spence’s health is at risk.”On Wednesday, Spence issued a statement saying First Nations leaders were planning to issue “breach of treaty” declarations and launch “country wide economic disturbances.”The AFN executive also met on Wednesday.“First Nations leaders from coast-to-coast-to coast have collectively raised our voices about the critical situation facing First Nations,” wrote Atleo. “Solutions will not come overnight, but solutions must begin now and they must be done in full respect of the treaty relationship and our inherent responsibilities.”[email protected]@JorgeBarreraThe LetterDownload (PDF, Unknown)last_img read more