Theresa Spence pow-wows with MPs; Minister Duncan still uninvited

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

Credits: REUTERS


OTTAWA - On the 20th day of her headline-making hunger strike, Attawapiskat First Nations chief Theresa Spence invited MPs and senators to join her at her teepee to discuss the government's omnibus budget bill and her objections to it.

Despite the frigid weather, 17 NDP MPs and a handful of Liberals showed up to show their solidarity with what has become known as the Idle No More Movement.

At issue is Bill C-45, which removes thousands of waterways from federal jurisdiction and would allow private corporations to buy reserve land.

Spence began her hunger strike Dec. 11 to force a meeting with First Nation leaders, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's and the Governor General.

"I invited them here to come to listen to what I have to say," Spence told a crowd Sunday. "As First Nations people we honour our leadership, the Crown should do the same."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office told QMI Agency there's "nothing new from our side."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has tried meeting with Spence several times and even asked her to assist him in creating a working group. Spence has declined, saying no less than Harper himself will do.

While Spence has some sympathizers, others wonder if giving in to a hunger strike would set a dangerous precedence.

NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Attawapiskat territory, said a dangerous precendent had been set -- but it has nothing to do with a hunger strike.

"(It's) a precedent of absolute contempt for First Nations communities," he said.


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