Politics
Chief Spence ends fast, supporters pledge to continue her work

Danny Metatawabin (C), spokesman for Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, holds up sage as he speaks during a news conference with interim Liberal leader Bob Rae (L) and elder Raymond Robinson in Ottawa January 24, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE

KRISTY KIRKUP | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who ended her 44-day protest in Ottawa on Thursday, is calling on First Nations leaders and federal opposition parties to take up her fight to push the feds to implement treaty rights.

Spence agreed to end efforts at Victoria Island after aboriginal organizations - including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) - and the NDP and Liberals signed on a 13-point action plan drafted over the weekend, according to her spokesman Danny Metatawabin.

Spence was also facing pressure from her own band council to return home.

Attawapiskat acting chief Christine Kataquapit confirmed a letter, penned Jan. 17, was delivered to Spence urging her to return to her reserve.

"You have ... captured the attention of people across the country," the letter states. "But all the elders in our community have now requested us as a council to urge you now to return and suspend your hunger strike. Many members of our community have also asked us."

Kataquapit said Spence could have been removed as chief if didn't end her protest soon.

Spence was hospitalized Wednesday evening after her partner had concerns about her health, Metatawabin said.

Spence says she have additional blood tests but "everything seems fine" with her health.

Spence looked fatigued as she addressed supporters but was in good spirits as she signed the declaration.

The plan includes calls to address issues including First Nation opposition to the government's budget bills.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae and Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash showed their support for the declaration at an Ottawa press conference Thursday, along with Spence's fellow faster Raymond Robinson, Michelle Audette of the Native Women's Association of Canada and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Rae and Saganash played a key role in recent discussions with Spence to end to her protest.

The government's budget legislation has been a catalyst for recent Idle No More demonstrations across Canada because First Nations say the bills infringe on treaty rights.

Meanwhile, some chiefs, including Spence supporters from Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories continue to question confidence in AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.

"The energy that's coming from our people is not going anywhere," Atleo said at a Vancouver news conference.

Atleo has now returned from doctor-ordered medical leave, which he announced on Jan. 14.

Idle No More organizers have planned a global day of action for Monday.

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