Canadian PM, First Nations leaders meet

Jan. 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM
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OTTAWA, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders in Ottawa was met by protests and some boycotts of the talks.

Several chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations were absent from the meeting in the fortress-like Langevin Block across from Parliament, an indication of deep divisions in the in the Assembly, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

Early during the daylong meeting, protesters representing the Idle No More movement, which is critical of recent legislation cutting fishing rights and other opportunities for aboriginal programs, attempted to block the Langevin doors to prevent representatives from entering, the CBC said.

The division in First Nations leaders centers on whether the meeting with the prime minister was ceremonial or substantive, Quebec's Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come telling colleagues Thursday of his eagerness to his supporters he traveled to Ottawa to address real issues and not merely offer protest.

Assembly of First Nations leader Shawn Atleo attended the meeting, as did Coon Come, but Chief Theresa Spence of Ontario's Attawapiskat tribe didn't, demanding the attendance of Governor General David Johnston and all First Nations chiefs.

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