Politics
Chief Spence agrees to end liquid diet

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence takes part in a news conference outside her teepee on Victoria Island in Ottawa

Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE

KRISTY KIRKUP | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence will end her protest Thursday after it was reported band members called for her to return to her James Bay reserve or lose her job.

Spence, who has consumed liquids since Dec. 11 to demand the government implement treaty rights, has agreed to stop efforts now opposition parties and other supporters have signed a list of 13 requests issued by the chief.

The demands include continuing to pressure the government to revisit two budget bills which First Nations strongly oppose, particularly related to changes to environmental regulations.

Spence's step back comes after the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network (APTN) reported members of Spence's own band wanted her return to her remote Ontario community, or face "removal as chief of the community."

Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae played a central role in discussions with Spence, according to staffers.

An "honouring" ceremony for Spence will be held at a downtown Ottawa hotel Thursday but Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn Atleo will not be there.

Atleo, who has been on sick leave since Jan. 14, is set to address the media in Vancouver but the AFN on Wednesday expressed its "deep appreciation" for Spence's "strength and resolve."

In coming weeks, Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to meet Atleo again to discuss next steps on aboriginal affairs.

Harper met with Atleo and other chiefs on Jan. 11 despite opposition from Spence and her supporters, who wanted the governor general to participate as well.

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