ABORIGINAL JUSTICE BREAKING: Chief Theresa Spence and Elder Robinson to end sacred fast

23 January 2013
ABORIGINAL JUSTICE BREAKING: Chief Theresa Spence and Elder Robinson to end sacred fast

by Chris Sabas

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence will end her sacred fast, which began 11 December 2012, on Thursday morning, 24 January. Manitoba Elder Gene Robinson, who began his fast in solidarity with Chief Spence on 12 December, and later joined Chief Spence in Ottawa, will also end his fast. A news conference has been called for 11:00 a.m.

Their decision was based on commitments outlined in a 13 point plan and endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Society of Canada, the New Democratic Party National Caucus and the Liberal Party of Canada Parliamentary Caucus. It includes, but is not limited to ensuring commitments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on 11 January are followed through and implemented as quickly as possible.

Christian Peacemaker Teams applauds the fasters' courage. We also want to acknowledge and honor Mr. Jean Sock of Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, as well as the other fasters who answered the call for endurance, and faith of ceremony, prophecy, spirits, ancestors and future generations (Rev. 13:10).

 photo courtesy Carol Merrick

For us, as allies and as Christians, or Followers of The Way, their sacred act, done for the fellowship of all Canadians, conjures up countless stories from Scripture, in which faithful servants humble themselves, break from routine and seek deliverance that only Creator God can accomplish. Their fast reminds us of the actions of Queen Esther, in ancient Persia after the Babylonian exile, because each used the discipline of fasting as a means of creating solidarity among people who are separated from one another.

A fast is not only a spiritual discipline but a discipline for the breaking of oppression, and for easing the suffering of those who lack food, clothing and shelter (Isaiah 58:5-7). Chief Spence’s message remained consistent, in that her actions were “the human incarnation of what Indigenous Peoples struggle with on a daily basis. Our Peoples live in third world conditions while in our backyard mega development projects extract resources from our lands while we remain in substandard living conditions.”

Chief Spence and the other fasters humbled their soul with fasting and were insulted while doing so (Psalm 69:10). She is weak with reported health concerns, and even as she prepares to continue her journey in the physical world, detractors still jab her with slurs of ‘liquid diet’ and shake their heads with scorn (Psalm 109:24-25).


We honor and rejoice in her leadership and offer thanks and praise for her grounding commitment. However, we are very aware that the struggle continues. Canada’s waters remain unprotected. Treaties continue to be eroded. Parliamentary process continues to be side-stepped. Chief Spence, Elder Robinson and the other fasters helped shape the path. We look to Idle No More, and pray for guidance, as we remain committed to the walk in unity upon this path of justice and toward right relationship.