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Spence ends 43-day hunger strike

Jan. 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM   |   Comments

OTTAWA, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Leaders of Canada's First Nations population vowed to keep pressure on the government as Chief Theresa Spence ended a 43-day hunger strike.

Spence, chief of Attawapiskat First Nation of northern Ontario, and Manitoba tribal elder Raymond Robinson ended their protest hunger strike Wednesday after representatives from the Assembly of First Nations and the caucuses of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties endorsed a declaration of specific government commitments requested by Spence, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Liberal Party leader Bob Rae called the declaration, a manifesto demanding protection of indigenous rights, "an absolutely realistic assessment of the steps that need to be taken in our lifetime if we are going to achieve reconciliation."

As Spence left a hospital, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo returned to work following medical leave, praising the protests across Canada of the organization Idle No More and promising more negotiation with the government over rights, the CBC said.

Atleo was last seen publicly Jan. 11, when First Nations officials met with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, despite conflict within the First Nations leadership over the representation at the meeting.

Speaking in British Columbia Friday, he downplayed the conflict, saying, "On principles of substance, we are unified."

He added the status quo "is not working not only for First Nations, it's not working for Canadians and it's not working for governments, so we need, with great haste, to seize on this moment, and say that we're not going to let it go by."

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