The hashtag #IdleNoMore is gaining momentum.
The hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is also gaining momentum.
Listening to and reading commentary from all corners it is interesting to see where people land in this debate…if such a one-sided conversation can be called debate.
Many point to poor financial management at Spence’s community and her own salary ($70K) in comparison to the average salary there ($10K) as reasons she and her hunger strike should be dismissed or ignored.
The reality however is never as simple as people’s desires.
First of all no person is the sum total of their individual decisions or actions…poor fiscal performance aside Spence has voiced legitimate concerns, albeit in an extreme way.
She has found a way to draw attention to an obvious problem in Canada – we have a significant number of people living in third world conditions. This is a problem. Canada is the best country in the world to live in…that is almost a quantifiable fact and not simply my opinion…how can we have brothers and sisters living in such degrading conditions?
Pointing fingers does not help. Determining who owns what share of the fault does not provide food or clothing for a hungry child and so in my opinion such an effort is an enormous waste of time.
The Prime Minister has found himself in a tough spot – bow down to the demands of an individual on a hunger strike and risk setting a precedent for every concerned citizen or risk turning Spence into a martyr.
In my opinion the Prime Minister should meet with her because she is simply the face of a much larger problem that absolutely must be solved.
No matter who they are and what they have or have not done I believe first and foremost people need to be met and treated with dignity and often that means swallowing one’s own pride.
We have a problem in our country…people of a particular culture are experiencing rates of poverty, imprisonment and all around poor living conditions far beyond the average…pouring money into the problem will not help – pouring love and community into it just might – but it means treating one another with mutual respect and equality.