Thousands of Whistler visitors travelling to the resort this weekend will see a banner beside Highway 99 in Britannia declaring support for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.
The chief from the Attawapiskat area of northern Ontario is demanding the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Governor General initiate discussions and start developing an action plan to address treaty issues with First Nations across Canada. She started a hunger strike on Dec. 11.
Britannia resident Ralph Fulber painted a banner of support for her and called on members of his family to help him place the banner on a bluff overlooking the busy highway at the north end of Britannia.
One of the people on hand to help put up the sign was Fulber’s newphew Taras Atleo.
The message on the sign, visible by the cars passing below, calls on travelers to support Spence’s hunger strike for “our collective dignity.”
Atleo said he helped put up the banner because there’s never a proper time to send a message.
“Now is the time,” said Atleo, the brother of Sean Atleo, the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “There’s never an inappropriate time to come together as a community and send a message.”
Fulber, who lives just above the bluff where the banner was hung said he was inspired to put up the banner through a feeling of solidarity with Spence. He expects up more than 40,000 people to see the sign.
“There’s no irony in the fact that a lot of these people are on their way to their chalets in Whistler and this is play time,” said Fulber. “Play time is fine but we have to remember to build a decent house we need a really good foundation and I think we all need to go back and look at the foundation. We love this area, we’re all here for the same reason.”
Fulber said he’s concerned for the First Nations people who are facing challenges that range from hunger to housing.
Spence has been living a teepee on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, less than a kilometre from Parliament Hill since she started her fast.
Her protest has followed a campaign of native protests against the federal government called Idle No More. The protest has spread through social media. The campaign has reached and inspired First Nations people across the country through a website called idlenomore.com and through the use of the Twitter hashtag idlenomore.