Some of you may have heard of the Canadian aboriginals protest Idle No More. It is a protest put in place to get some movement on aboriginal rights and to help enforce some signed treaties and land claims.
The most publicized arm of protest has been Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. I was slightly disillusioned to hear that she wasn’t starving herself completely, that she was drinking fish broth, medicinal tea and vitamins through her hunger strike.
Now I’ve never been this close to a hunger strike before. I’ve done a brief perusal of other hunger strikes but could only find that the 10 Irish nationals that died in 1981 were allowed salt in their hunger strike. The other sources said that the hunger strikers were allowed liquids – whatever that means. For instance orange juice is some nourishment. I had always assumed that hunger strikes were total starvation strikes – water and nothing else.
And I’ve been told that a healthy person can survive a month of starvation. Now that I’ve heard that some hunger strikers are allowed liquid nourishment, it makes more sense that the length of time that most hunger strikers last is beyond 30 days.
Spence’s strike seems destined to last longer than the 46 to 73 days that those Irish Nationals lasted. But those Nationals used one publicity extender, their strikes were consecutive. This made them loom larger in the public consciousness.
So if Spence lasts longer she should get more publicity. Don’t get me wrong. She will surely die on this liquid diet. Limiting your diet that much is not good for the promotion of life. But if she lasts say, 75 days the pressure on the Prime Minister and Governor General will be great. Already the Prime Minister has agreed to meet with her, but the Governor General wouldn’t be included. So it’s still at an impasse. International publicity already hit weeks ago.
So Idle No More’s protest against white givers [full disclosure: I am white] (and you knew what it meant) continues. Perhaps they’ll find success in law. They’ve certainly succeeded in getting more publicity.
And myself? I’ve never been able to do a fast for a day. Perhaps if I used fish broth and medicinal teas and vitamins I could do it. But if it’s for purely medical reasons I doubt my doctor will permit it.