Theresa Spence, Attawapiskat Chief, Wins Re-Election – Idle No More

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Chief Theresa Spence has been re-elected to a second three-year team as chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.

Electoral officer Louie Noah told The Canadian Press that Spence received 214 of the 507 votes cast.

Spence gained notoriety last winter for subsisting on fish broth and tea for six weeks as a form of protest during the rise of the Idle No More movement.

The Idle No More cause was a protest against the Conservative government’s omnibus Bill C-45 which First Nations groups claimed threatened their treaty rights.

The election went ahead Tuesday despite a call from The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to postpone it until all members living off-reserve had a chance to vote.

The group, which represents aboriginal people living off-reserve, said it’s unfair to people who live outside the remote community to have to vote in person.

Despite the complaint, voting went ahead.

According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Attawapiskat First Nation has a total registered population of 3,472. Of that, 1,489 people — or about 43 per cent — live off-reserve.

The reserve is widely known for a housing crisis that prompted a state of emergency in the winter of 2011 and set off lingering tensions with the federal government.

Flooding and sewer backups this spring again forced Attawapiskat into a state of emergency and forced the First Nation to evacuate its only hospital.

Spence’s protest in Ottawa last winter drew unfavourable attention to Attawapiskat with the release of a scathing audit of the band’s books that found a missing paper trail for millions of dollars between 2005 and 2011.