Open Letter to Harper Regarding the Announcement of 11 January Talks with First Nations Delegations


6 January 2013

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A2

Open Letter Regarding the Announcement of 11 January Talks with First Nations Delegations

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. CWILA 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.


Maleea Acker, Poet, Environmental Journalist, Victoria, BC

Caroline Adderson, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Gay Allison, Poet, Editor, Stratford, ON

Naomi Angel, Doctoral Candidate, New York University, Toronto, ON

Luanne Armstrong, Writer, Kuskanook, BC

Peter Babiak, Writer, Professor, Vancouver, BC

Elizabeth Bachinsky, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Pamela Banting, Writer, Associate Professor, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

Janet Barkhouse, Writer, Mahone Bay, NS

derek beaulieu, Calgary, AB

Sheri Benning, Saskatchewan & Glasgow, Scotland

Linda Besner, Writer, Toronto, ON

Yvonne Blomer, poet and Artistic Director of Planet Earth Poetry, Victoria BC

Ali Blythe, Poet, Victoria Hospitals Foundation Coordinator, Victoria, BC

Christian Bok, Poet, Associate Professor (University of Calgary), Calgary, AB

Stephanie Bolster, Associate Professor, Concordia University, Pointe-Claire, QC

Kate Braid, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Morgan Brayton, Writer, Performer, Vancouver, BC

Elizabeth Jane Brown, Editor, Victoria, BC

Patrick C. Brown, Retired Shipwright & Carpenter, and business owner, Victoria, BC

Suzanne Buffam, Writer, Lecturer, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Melissa Bull, Writer, Editor, Translator, Montreal, QC

Alice Burdick, Poet, Mahone Bay, NS

Hannah Calder, Vernon, BC

Sandra Campbell, Writer, Toronto, ON

Brenda Carr Vellino, Associate Professor, Department of English, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON

Mary Chapman, UBC Professor, Vancouver, BC

Moe Clark, Multi-disciplinary Artist and Poet, Montreal, QC

Stephen Collis, Poet, SFU Professor, Vancouver, BC

Cris Costa, Writer, Toronto, ON

Michelle Coupal, PhD candidate and Instructor in English, Western University, London, ON

Brad Cran, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Heather Cromarty, Book Reviewer and Critic, Toronto, ON

Linda Crosfield, Poet, Castlegar, BC

Lorna Crozier, Writer, Distinguished Professor, UVIC, Saanich, BC

Nancy Jo Cullen, Writer, Toronto, ON

Melissa Dalgleish, PhD candidate (ABD), York University, Toronto, ON

Krissy Darch, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Dina Del Bucchia, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Writer, St. John’s, NL

Charles Demers, Writer/Performer, Vancouver, BC

Sadiqa de Meijer, Writer, Kingston, ON

Dr. Jennifer Delisle, Edmonton, AB

Carmen Derkson, Writer, Critic Instructor, Calgary, AB

JoAnn Dionne, Writer/Editor/Teacher/Student, Victoria, BC

Kit Dobson, Assistant Professor, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta

Gillian Dunks, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Jane Eaton Hamilton, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Kim Echlin, Writer, Toronto, ON

Renate Eigenbrod, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB

Daniela Elza, Writer/Poet, Vancouver, BC

Margery Fee, UBC Professor of English, Vancouver, BC

Mona Fertig, Writer and Editor, Saltspring Island

Dorothy Field, Artist and Poet, Victoria BC

Kathy Figueroa, Poet, Freelance Writer, Photographer, Purveyor of Fine Flowers, Bancroft, ON

Triny Finlay, Poet, Assistant Professor, University of New Brunswick, NB

Daniel Fischlin, University Research Chair, Guelph, ON

Sheree Fitch, Writer, River John, NS

Cynthia Flood, Writer, Vancouver BC

Chris Fox, Editor/Instructor, Victoria BC

David Fraser, Writer, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Nanoose Bay, BC

Cynthia French, Writer, Newburne, NS

Steven Galloway, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Pam Galloway, Poet and Speech-Language Pathologist, Vancouver BC

Cynara Geissler, Book Publicist, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Terry Gibson, Vancouver, BC

Susan Gillis, Writer and Teacher, Montreal, Quebec

Susan Gingell, Professor of English, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK

Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Writer, Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS

Susan Glickman, Toronto, ON

Kim Goldberg, Poet, Nanaimo, BC

Alisa Gordaneer, Poet, Victoria, BC

Hiromi Goto, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Nora Gould, Poet, Rancher, Consort, AB

Sue Goyette, Poet, Halifax, NS

Catherine Graham, Poet, Toronto, ON

Laurie D Graham, Writer, Toronto, ON

Elizabeth Greene, Poet, Kingston, ON

Mark Grenon, Writer, Teacher, Montreal, QC

Adrienne Gruber, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Helen Guri, Poet, Toronto, ON

Jamella Hagen, Writer, Instructor, Yukon College, Whitehorse, Yukon

Donna H Hagerman, Visual Arts Programmer, Vancouver, BC

Heather Haley, Poet, Artistic Director of Visible Verse Festival, Vancouver, BC

Carol Halligan, Teacher, Writer, Victoria, BC/Winnipeg, MB

Brecken Hancock, Poet, Ottawa, ON

Beth Hancox,Writer/Artist, Victoria, BC

Warren Heiti, Teaching Fellow, Halifax, NS

Yvonne Hertzberger, Author, Stratford, ON

Miranda Hill, Writer, Hamilton, ON

Katrin Horowitz, Writer, Victoria, BC

Patricia Houston, Writer, Victoria BC

Helen Hoy, Professor Emerita, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

June Hutton, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Maureen Hynes, Retired Professor, Toronto, ON

Penny Isabel, Burnaby, BC

Danielle Janess, Writer/Communications Professional, Victoria, BC

Joanne Jefferson, Writer, West LaHave, NS

Gillian Jerome, Poet, UBC Lecturer, Vancouver, BC

Heather Jessup, Author and Instructor, Halifax NS

Fazeela Jiwa, Writer, Educator, Ottawa, ON

Elena Johnson, Writer and Translator, Vancouver, BC

Michael Johnson, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Maia Joseph, UBC Lecturer, Vancouver, BC

Smaro Kamboureli, Canada Research Tier 1, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

Donna Kane, Writer, Rolla, BC

Michael Keefer, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

Penn Kemp, London, ON

Julie Keon, Writer, Cobden, ON

Stephanie Keon, Writer, Teacher, Eganville, ON

Alexis Kienlen, Poet and Journalist, Edmonton, AB

Thomas King, Writer, Guelph, ON

Marcel(le) Kosman, Phd student, Edmonton, AB

Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Kathryn Kuitenbrower, Writer, Toronto, ON

Sonnet L’Abbé, Lecturer, University of BC – Okanagan, Kelowna, BC

Danielle LaFrance, Poet, Critic, Information Scientist, Vancouver, BC

Anita Lahey, Writer, Editor, Toronto, ON

Larissa Lai, Writer, UBC Professor, Vancouver, BC

Fiona Tinwei Lam, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Lainna Lane El Jabi, Writer, UBC Research Facilitator, Kelowna BC

Kateri Lanthier, Poet/Writer, Toronto, ON

Ross Leckie, Poet, Professor, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB

Christine Leclerc, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Mandy Len, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Alex Leslie, Writer, Richmond, BC

Savanna Scott Leslie, Copy Editor, Toronto, ON

Lisa Szabo-Jones, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

Tim Lilburn, Poet, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC

Jennifer LoveGrove, Writer, Toronto and Haliburton, ON

Heather Low, Vancouver, BC

Cathy MacDonald-Zytveld, writer, host of the Dusty Owl Reading Series, Ottawa, ON

Rick Maddocks, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Shannon Maguire, Writer, Guelph, ON

Carin Makuz, Writer, Whitby, ON

Nico Mara-McKay, Writer, Toronto, ON

Allison Marion, Winnipeg, MB

Daphne Marlatt, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Garth Martens, Poet, Victoria, BC

Lisa Martin-DeMoor, Writer, Edmonton, AB

Sophie McCall, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby BC

Kathleen McConnell, Chair of English Dept., Saint Thomas University, Fredericton, NB

Kevin McNeilly, Poet, UBC Professor, Vancouver BC

Emily McGiffin, Writer and Consultant, Smithers, BC

Hannah McGregor, PhD Candidate, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario

rob mclennan, writer / editor / publisher, Ottawa, ON

Steve McOrmond, Poet, Toronto, ON

Roy Miki, Poet, Writer, Editor, Vancouver, BC

Dr. Lorrie Miller, Vancouver, BC

Kathryn Mockler, Writer, Toronto, ON

Wendy Morton, Poet, Victoria, BC

Vanessa Moeller, Arts Administrator, Fredericton, NB

Laura Moss, UBC Professor, Vancouver, BC

Evan Munday, Book Publicist, Children’s Author, Toronto, ON

Jane Munro, Poet, Vancouver BC

Sachiko Murakami, Writer and Editor, Toronto, ON

George Murray, Poet, St. John’s, NL

Martha Nandorfy, Professor, Writer, Guelph, ON

Billeh Nickerson, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Emilia Nielsen, Poet & PhD Candidate UBC, Vancouver BC

Emily Nilsen, poet, Nelson BC

Chelsea Novak, Freelance Writer, Vancouver, BC

Jasmina Odor, Writer, Concordia University College of Alberta instructor, Edmonton, AB

Susan Olding, Writer and Teacher, Kingston, ON

Pamela Oliva, Saskatoon, SK

Desirée Ossandon, Writer, Artist, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Canada Arts Connect, ON

Abby Paige, Writer and Actor, Ottawa, ON

Edward Parker, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Jocelyn Parr, Writer, Dawson College Faculty, Montreal, QC

shauna paull, Vancouver, BC

A.S. Penne, Writer, Sechelt, BC

Alison Pick, Writer, Toronto, ON

Alex Pierce, Writer, Sable River, NS

Pearl Pirie, Writer, Ottawa, ON

Pamela Porter, Poet, novelist, Governor General’s Award (2005), North Saanich, BC

Robert Porter, Farm manager, Mihceti Farms, North Saanich, BC

Kate Pullinger, Writer, Professor, London, England

Meredith Quartermain, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Sina Queyras, Writer, Montreal, QC

a.rawlings, Poet, Performer, Reykjavik, Iceland

Deanna Reder, Assistant Professor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC

DC Reid, Novelist, Poet, Victoria, BC

Jamie Reid, Poet, North Vancouver, BC

Nikki Reimer, Poet, Calgary, AB

Shane Rhodes, Writer, Ottawa, ON

Clelie Rich, Editor, Vancouver, BC

Chantelle Rideout, Writer, Halifax, NS

Duffy Roberts, Writer, UBC Lecturer, Vancouver, BC

Damien Rogers, Poet, Creative Director of Poetry in Voice, Toronto, ON

Wendy Roy, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK

Kyeren Regehr, Poet, Victoria, BC

Amelia Schonbek, Journalist, Montreal, QC / New York

Eleonore Schonmaier, Writer, Katch Harbour, NS

Nikki Scott

Ann Scowcroft, Writer & technical consultant, UNHCR, Ayer’s Cliff, QC

Karis Shearer, UBC-Okanagan Assistant Professor, Kelowna, BC

Nikki Sheppy, Writer, Calgary, AB

Ahava Shira, Poet and Creative Mentor, Centre for Loving Inquiry, Salt Spring Island, BC

Sandy Shreve, Writer, Pender Island, BC

Melanie Siebert, Poet, UVic Lecturer, Victoria, BC

Bren Simmers, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Anne Simpson, Poet, Novelist, Essayist, NS

Sue Sinclair, Poet and CWILA critic-in-residence for 2013, Montreal, QC

Carolyn Smart, Poet, Sydenham, ON

Wayne Soroka, Burnaby, BC

Susan Steudel, Writer/Official Court Reporter, Vancouver, BC

Christina Sylka, Vancouver, BC

Katja Thieme, Lecturer, Vancouver, BC

Rachel Thompson, Vancouver, BC

Erika Thorkelson

Nick Thran, Poet, Montreal, QC

Matthew Tierney, Writer, Toronto, ON

Leslie Timmins Writer, Vancouver, BC

Bibiana Tomasic, Poet, Consultant, New Westminter, BC

Deborah Torkko, University-College Professor, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC

Ann Travers, Associate Professor of Sociology, SFU, Burnaby, BC

Ayelet Tsabari, Writer, Toronto, ON

Anne-Marie Turza, Kingston, ON

Natalie Zina Walschots, Toronto, ON

Hal Wake, Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writer’s Festival, Vancouver, BC

Bernadette Wagner, Writer, Regina. SK

Fred Wah, Vancouver and Riondel, BC

Sheryda Warrener, Poet, Vancouver, BC

Calvin Wharton, Poet, North Vancouver, BC

Kristin White, Gatineau, QC

Gillian Wigmore, Writer, Library Technician, Prince George, BC

Alana Wilcox, Editor, Toronto, ON

Janice Williamson, Writer, Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

Rita Wong, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Elaine Woo, Writer, Vancouver, BC

Caroline Woodward, Writer, Tofino, BC

Erin Wunker, Academic, Halifax, NS

Patricia Young, Poet, Victoria, BC

Jennifer Zilm, Poet, PhD Candidate, McMaster University

Daniel Zomparelli, Poet, Publisher, Vancouver, BC

Jan Zwicky, Poet, BC


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6 Responses to Open Letter to Harper Regarding the Announcement of 11 January Talks with First Nations Delegations

  1. Thank you Cwila and its signatories for taking this active, principled stand agains Bill C-45, and I assume proactively against all other pieces of legislation to be introduced to deal with the “Indian Problem”. Yes, this is the underlying Colonial attitude that prevails, enchrenched as it is in the bigotry and paternalism of the Canadian State.

    I’m an older white man, and I am deeply ashamed of the Canadian Government (the “Harper Government”) which Canadians have permitted to act so recklessly and imperiously with regard to what they call “natural resources” that long ago became in their extractive processes “unnatural resources”. Surely we know that this is what is behind what can only be called the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

    It is a reality accross the globe that women typically give life and breath to new social movements, as is the case with #IDLE NO MORE. Please, continue to oppose this anti-democratic government in Ottawa, and be rigorous in challenging the agenda related to this first step of “killing” Indigenous Peoples as a first and well planned step to ecocide.

  2. Phouston says:

    Beautifully said! Let’s hope it gets the results needed to effect positive and permanent change.
    Patricia Houston
    Victoria B.C.

  3. Papa Tee says:

    N.H Treanor of St.Catharines, ON would like to join this Open Letter Urging a Meeting with Chief Spence.  I am retired, a United Empire loyalist, a direct descendant from Adam  Haynes who with his family made his way from Rensselaer, N.Y. to the Niagara Peninsula in 1783.

  4. Papa Tee says:

    My name is N.H.Treanor, retired, a United Empire Loyalist whose ancestors came up from Rensselaer, N.Y. to the Niagara Peninsula in 1783.

  5. Mkeefer says:

    My ancestors likewise came to this country as United Empire Loyalist refugees (in our case, the widow and two sons of a New Jersey farmer who died in the defence of Long Island). We have not forgotten that our refugee ancestors were given land in what is now Thorold by the Anishnaabe nation. My family and I regard ourselves as treaty people, bound to respect this country’s agreements with the First Nations. I oppose the flagrant and insulting violations of treaty rights by this and past Canadian governments. Please add my name to the letter.
    Michael Keefer, Professor emeritus, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

  6. Pingback: The feminine fist raised - Women leading Idle No More | Dalhousie Gazette

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