At the Idle No More Spiritual Epicentre with Chief Theresa Spence

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few precious moments with Chief Spence within her hunger strike encampment, the spiritual centre of the Idle No More movement on Victoria Island near the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Much footage to edit.) Despite her evident weakening, she remains strong in spirit, a selfless human being still full of great humour 12 days into her hunger strike.

Chief Spence of Attawapiskat First Nation has pledged to starve herself, to death if necessary, in an effort to get Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper to come and meet with her to discuss the plight of her community which first entered the national news a little over a year ago when the state of emergency that was declared in October 2011 was flagged by NDP MP Charlie Angus. In the wake of Federal /Provincial government bickering and inaction the still ongoing crisi sparked emergency airlifts by Canadian Red Cross. Now, surrounded by a small army of dedicated supporters, Chief Spence shelters from the oncoming Canadian winter in a canvas teepee on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River just minutes from the granite Parliament Buildings and the Prime Minister’s Office, waiting.

In both form and function, her teepee reminds me of  the mountain, Devils Tower, in the Stephen Spielberg’s 1977 film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, mysteriously drawing people in from around the continent who sense that something mysterious and uncommon is afoot.  My drive was 6 hours. Others are flying in. It would be a roughly 12 minute motorcade ride in an armor-plated limo from the Prime Minister’s residence.

Speaking of geography, according to this Google map by, Idle No More—spread through the power of social media—has already spawned over 110 events throughout North America and Europe  since it began a few weeks ago:, which, given how fast this is developing, I have not had time to verify.


The use of social media provides such an interesting study in contrasts. On one hand one can see that the current count of Youtube Video uploads pegged to keyword “Idle No More” is approximately 10,400, mostly in the past week or so. A video of an Idle No More flashmob at West Edmonton Mall more than halfway across Canada has over 50,00 views. Meanwhile,  it would appear that Prime Minister Harper is still tuned to a different channel, developing his Flickr stream  and getting his pet Chinchilla Charlie ready for Christmas, which at this time of writing has 4,063 views: Charlie the Chinchilla gets into the spirit of Christmas at 24 Sussex

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  1. Michael Estey

    She won’t starve to death.
    She’s drinking protein enriched fish oil water.
    Who’s she kidding.
    She’s pulling the feathers over our eyes.

    January 9, 2013