KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A First Nations leader from British Columbia is urging a northern Ontario chief to end her hunger strike aimed at winning a meeting with the prime minister and drawing attention to aboriginal issues.
Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson says Theresa Spence’s 17-day hunger strike is both honourable and noble but he believes her point has been made.
He says Spence is fasting for many issues that are important to aboriginals but he says most of those issues will not be resolved soon, and he believes the chief’s health is more important. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has echoed those concerns, urging Spence to meet with the aboriginal affairs minister.
Spence has eaten nothing but tea and fish broth since Dec. 11 as she presses for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and is continuing to reject John Duncan’s repeated offers to sit down together.
She has also vowed to die unless the Conservative government starts showing more respect to First Nations concerns and aboriginal treaties.
Gottfriedson says the next step is to begin a dialogue with the federal government and he says it shouldn’t take a meeting with the prime minister to get those talks underway.
The government has offered to form a joint working group with senior federal and native representatives to address the relationship between the Crown and First Nations.