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The Canadian Union of Public Employees is standing in solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, who has been on a hunger strike since December 11. CUPE National President Paul Moist has written Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor-General David Johnston to urge them to meet with her immediately for a meaningful dialogue about First Nations’ concerns.

The people of Attawapiskat and other First Nations communities across Canada lack the basic necessities of life, including clean water, housing, and education. These problems are the direct result of ongoing colonization, a lack of respect for treaty rights, and systematic, chronic underfunding of First Nations communities by the federal government. The government’s wholesale support for large-scale mining, logging, and oil extraction has stripped resources from First Nations’ lands and left them poisoned, while communities are shut out from the potential economic benefits of sustainable resource development.

First Nations must be respected as sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting their lands and communities. First Nations’ treaty rights must be upheld, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully implemented.

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