My name is Michael Redhead Champagne. I am 24 years old, grew up in the North End of Winnipeg and am originally from Shamattawa Cree Nation. I am writing you this letter because I will not be silent any longer while the young people, elders and children in our communities continue to die. In my position as a leader in my community, I support Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in her protest of Minister Duncan’s insulting response to the emergency in her community. The deplorable conditions are all too familiar and have recently been highlighted in communities such as the state of emergency in Attawapiskat, the lack of education in Pikangikum, the youth suicides in Shamattawa the missing and murdered Aboriginal sisters and daughters. These conditions are all too familiar on First Nations communities across Canada and our Federal government fails to respond effectively. They respond with irresponsible, scattered and often offensive responses to emergencies, assuming there is any response at all. I think we all remember slop buckets and body bags, more recently mega prisons and fighter jets.
While Canada touts its international horn on its human rights and other such things, aboriginal youth are committing suicide in my community. We even have a museum dedicated to such a cause in our very own city. Meanwhile, so many young people are suffering from something called HOPELESSNESS. I buried one of my kids last month because of this sickness and many stand by watching us die, and kill one another until there will be no one left. And even if we do survive, the political and health and justice and treaty systems will ensure that we shut the hell up.
It is not hopeless. With what has been happening with the Assembly of First Nations and even suggestions to block oil pipelines in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, I am inspired by the action our First Nations Leaders are taking on this issue. As a leader in the North End of Winnipeg, I want to call upon the young people that I know to support me as well. Come to the Bell Tower (Salter @ Selkirk) this Friday December 9th for Be The Change. We can sit together and decide what we as a North End Community can do to support Attawapiskat and our own communities that are struggling.
United Nations Dec. on Rights of Indigenous People - Article 9Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.
I am writing this letter to send a message: Aboriginal youth are leaders. We are strong, and we are learning our culture and traditions and we will not be stopped now. We continue to reclaim our languages, protect our children and love our elders. We will continue to work together to stop the corruption, the disrespect and the contempt. We are standing to show that we are willing to act together with our communities as well as other First Nation Leaders across our country to ensure a prosperous future for our young people, and indeed all Canadians.
It can start right now. By simply leaving a comment (or emailing your message to firstname.lastname@example.org) and sharing your support. It can start on Thursday by coming to Lighting Up The Avenue. It can Start Friday At Meet Me @ The Bell Tower. The choices are yours. But I know that the only way we can stop this injustice, is by standing together.
Love, Courage and Respect