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[First published by CWILA: Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (6 January 2013), http://cwila.com/openletter-regarding-the-announcement-of-11-january-talks-with-the-afn/.

I was one of 236 co-signatories, from


Maleea Acker to Jan Zwicky.]

[Index: Canadian politics, First Nations]


Date: January 2013]

Open Letter to Harper Regarding the Announcement of 11


January Talks with First Nations Delegations

CWILA: Canadian Women in the Literary Arts

6 January 2013

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper


Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA), alongside other Canadian
artists, editors and academics, congratulates you and the Hon. John Duncan on your
announcement Friday that you intend to meet on January 11th with First Nations
delegations regarding issues that have been raised by the Idle No More movement.
These issues are the focus of Chief Theresa Spence's continuing hunger strike, about
which we wrote to you in an open letter just prior to your announcement.
We continue to oppose the ways in which Bill C-45 absolves the federal
government of its former responsibilities to consult with First Nations over land and
water rights within reserve lands. We also oppose the way in which Bill C-45 and other

recent legislation erases indigenous rights formerly protected by treaty. These changes
to old treaty laws affect everything from Indigenous ownership of reserve lands to
education to safe drinking water and open the way to further erosion of First Nations
cultures and deeper impoverishment of people living on reserves. CSWILA urges you to
rectify the appearance created by recent legislation that your government is willing to
defer to corporate interests in mining, logging and oil extraction at almost any cost,
including the transgression of legal and moral rights that reside in the concept of
Aboriginal jurisdiction.
We continue to believe that it would be gracious of you to meet personally with
Chief Spence, informally and off the record, as a prelude to the formal contributions she
will be making during your talks with the delegations.
CWILA stands in fervent support of First Nations' constitutionally protected
rights to their lands and waters. We are steadfast in our solidarity with the founders of
Idle No More, and with other indigenous women who have called upon us to support
them in this struggle.
We thank you for scheduling talks, and urge you, in the strongest terms, to use
them as an opportunity to amend current legislation in a spirit of principled cooperation
between your government and the First Nations of this country.