Chiefs are moving forward with Friday’s meeting with or without Chief Theresa Spence.
Chief Spence announced today that she will not attend Friday’s meeting with the Prime Minister. She said in a press release today that if the Governor General is not attending the meeting, neither will she.
But a dozen Chiefs across Denendeh gathered over the phone for an hour-long teleconference. Dene Nation arranged this meeting to discuss Friday’s face-to-face with Stephen Harper, Minister Leona Aglukkak, Minister John Duncan, Minister Tony Clement, and representatives from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Dene Nation says in total there will be about 30 Chiefs present at the meeting… Denendeh will have two seats. Bill Erasmus will hold one of those seats, the other one will go to either Francois Paulette, Chief Roy Fabian, or Chief Lloyd Chicot.
Regardless of who attends the meeting, all four leaders will be in Ottawa on Friday.
Lawrence Nayally is a volunteer with the Idle No More movement in Denendeh. He says regardless of Chief Spence’s decision and regardless of the outcome of Friday’s meeting, Idle No More will continue to stay strong. Nayally says with devolution, streamlining, and fracking underway, the north has some very specific issues at hand.
Bill C-45 is an example of that.
“With this whole Idle No More movement, it has brought a lot of issues that a lot of people didn’t know about to the forefront. And environment is number one. The future is dependent on the actions that we do today, so if we get that message out then great! Support us and get this movement going. Educate, create awareness, and be proud to be Dene.”
First Nations chiefs learned today that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may attend Friday’s meeting for just a half hour at the beginning of the talks and another half hour at the end.
Iman Kassam / CKLB News