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Grand Chief Verna Polson ends hunger and water strike after agreement reached

At around 5 p.m. last night Algonquin Anishinabeg Grand Chief Verna Polson ended her hunger and water strike after an agreement was reached with the federal government regarding the Indigenous Peoples Space, which is planned for 100 Wellington Street in Ottawa on unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation.

Her camp shared on social media: “We have reached an agreement with the government. Details will follow as soon as the Grand Chief is ready; she is getting the medical attention she needs. Thank you for all of your support. Kichi Migwetch”

Just over two years ago, the Canadian government announced that the former U.S. Embassy at 100 Wellington would become an Indigenous Peoples Space. Even though they are titleholders to the land, the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation have not been included in the project despite their repeated requests over the past two years to become full and equal partners in the space. This location is on unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Nation.  

Grand Chief Polson began her hunger and water strike on June 30 to press her people’s demands. The the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Council set up camp in a wigwam across from Parliament Hill on June 19,  two days before National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Earlier this month, Council of Canadians staff, Board members and chapter activists visited the camp to offer solidarity and support. The Council of Canadians issued a statement yesterday amplifying this message:  “The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with Grand Chief Verna Polson in calling for the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation to be included in deciding the future of the Indigenous Peoples Space.”

The statement also notes, “By embarking on a hunger strike with no water, the Grand Chief is risking her life for the rights of her people. We have a responsibility to speak out and take action in support of the nation whose land many of us reside and organize on. The Council of Canadians recognizes that its office in Ottawa, and much of the work the organization carries out, is located on the unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation.”

Council of Canadians Climate and Social Justice Campaigner Dylan Penner visited the camp yesterday, hand delivering the Council’s solidarity statement and a pouch of prayer tobacco.