Politics
Trudeau meets with hunger-striking First Nation chief

Credits: SUN NEWS NETWORK

BRIGITTE PELLERIN | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA -- Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau paid a Boxing Day visit to hunger-striking Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence at her Victoria Island teepee on Boxing Day.

The 45-minute meeting took place at the request of Trudeau, who wants to show solidarity with Spence, who's been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11.

"I didn't talk about an awful lot. I did a lot of listening," Trudeau told QMI Agency outside Spence's teepee on Victoria Island, just off Parliament Hill.

"What was most important for me was to share with her the fact that this current prime minister doesn't speak for all Canadians, that many people are supporting her and supporting her request that the prime minister meet with First Nations leaders and talk about the unfairness that exists across the country.

"Her request isn't that she gets to meet with the prime minister. Her request is that the prime minister agree to a serious engagement with leadership, with different levels of government, to talk about how we move forward in fairness as a country."

Spence is now in the third week of her protest, which includes restricting her food intake to tea and fish broth.

On Christmas, Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan sent her a letter expressing concerns about her health and once again offering to meet with her, but he has so far been ignored.

Spence told QMI Agency that she feels fine.

On Christmas Eve, aboriginal Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau tried to visit Spence, but was turned down.

He told QMI Agency he finds it "increasingly curious that Ms. Spence meets with NDP, Liberal members but has declined every genuine attempt to meet with Conservative members.

"Rather than emotional, rational, factual decisions, she has turned this rather political, no?"

Asked why she'd agree to meet with Trudeau but not with Duncan or Brazeau, Spence said that "Trudeau is someone who's there for the youth, and he's seen by the youth as a leader today.

"Why is (Stephen Harper) afraid to have a meeting with us?" she said. "It's a simple request for a meeting and the way he's acting is as if we're asking more than that."

Spence expressed her appreciation for the support from non-aboriginal Canadians.

"This is about our children. My children, your children," she said. "This is about the future. We need to work together with respect and honour and love.

"Thank you, Canadian citizens. We love you, as First Nations, as much as you love us."

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