Wednesday, 23 November 2011

letter to PM Harper .....and other leaders.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I want you to read this letter. I am aware you probably won’t. I want you to hear these words. I am aware this may only be a hope. I want you to admit that the behavior towards our own people living in the Attawapiskat First Nation is unacceptable. I know this may not happen.

I write this letter so that I can say I did something. It will not be everything. It may not even be close to what I want to do, but it is a start.

I want this letter to clearly articulate my deep disappointment, sadness and anger pertaining to the lack of leadership and what appears to be ignorance from the Canadian government regarding the quality of life afforded to our Attawapiskat First Nation. Our people are living in what Charlie Angus; MP for Timmins-James Bay has said “was like stepping into a fourth world”.   

Mr. Harper, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 25 states:
(1)  Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Notwithstanding this Universal Declaration, as a nation we must be accountable to our most vulnerable and to those in need. With the resources that we have there is no reason for lack of action. I believe that there are creative, thoughtful individual in the government of Canada who can quickly find ways to move money around so that we can get our people what they need, what is their right to have access to.
The Children of Attawapiskat First Nation do not have a school. How is this acceptable?
Mr. Harper. I don’t care if the paint is wearing off our planes. I don’t care if there is gold on business cards. I don’t care (and don’t agree) that we are building more prisons. I want my Canada to be on the world stage for our commitment to caring for our people. I want us to honor and provide a quality of life to each Canadian that shows to the world Canada is a country of opportunity.   

I understand the province of Ontario also has a responsibility. I will write them as well. I understand you have ministers who are in charge of this area and I am copying John Duncan into this letter. That being said, this emergent issue requires more than just a provincial response. This is about leadership. This is about accountability. This is about service.

Do you reflect and consider that as leaders, as those granted power and authority, we are accountability for direction and setting a course for our country? At the national level the action we exhibit and the policy we create must clearly articulate who we are, where we are going and the values that move us forward.

This is not happening at the national level under your leadership. I wonder how you reconcile this. Let Attawapiskat First Nation flourish; allow them to have the same opportunities that are afforded all Canadians. Do not be silent on this matter. Lead this country with dedication to the people not the forces of power and pride.  

Mr. Harper, I didn’t vote for you in the last election. I won’t vote for you in the next election. I will work as hard as I can and use the influence that I have to challenge others to consider how they will vote.  Maybe in this moment while you lead a party that has the majority of power you don’t care but I know that you are aware of how close the margins are right now. I believe that you watch those numbers. If this letter draws attention to the lack of leadership and compels even one person to not cast a vote for you, then I will have done some good.

Mr. Harper, let us not forgot that the very origins of our Canada comes from Kanata, an Iroquois Aboriginal word that means village, a group of people living together in community. Recommit us as a country to live out those sustaining values of care for our neighbors and of citizenship. May it be that those values keep us working to ensure each of us; every Canadian has the best opportunity to flourish and to be an active participant in our Canada’s future.  


Brenda Slomka


  1. The crisis in the First Nations is Canada's most shameful! Thx for writing this in such an eloquent manner and I hope that your great and thought provoking letter will spread through the internet like fire!

  2. I love it, Brenda - thank you! I'm a Brit who used to think of Canada as a positive alternative to the terrifying power of its neighbour, and also since visiting in 2003 I've been awed by the beauty of your country. I've watched with sadness and concern the policies of the Harper government. Lets hope they don't stay in power much longer, and that whoever replaces them puts Canada on a more humanitarian course.