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UPDATE: Chief Spence ends her hunger-strike, wins commitment to 13-point declaration

Chief Spences teepee on Victoria Island this evening.

Chief Spence’s teepee on Victoria Island this evening.

Chief Theresa Spence ended her hunger-strike this evening, 44 days after it began. What an incredible accomplishment on her part and what an inspiration she is to us all.

APTN News reports, “Spence and Manitoba Elder Raymond Robinson (who has been on a hunger-strike since Dec. 12) officially agreed to end their fast based on a 13-point plan endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Society of Canada, the NDP and Liberal caucuses.” The preamble to that Declaration states, “We solemnly commit to undertake political, spiritual and all other advocacy efforts to implement a renewed First Nations – Crown relationship where inherent Treaty and non-Treaty Rights are recognized, honoured and fully implemented as they should be, within the next five years.” One of the points states that immediate steps will be taken to achieve, “A comprehensive review and meaningful consultation in regards to Bill C-38 and C-45 to ensure it is consistent with Section 35 of the Constitution Act (1982).” As Apischi Kihiwikwan Iskwew wrote this afternoon, “They have endorsed to carry on the work she has started.”

The APTN article also notes, “Spence’s teepee on Victoria Island became a type of pilgrimage destination for many First Nations people across Canada who came to visit her, offer her gifts and blessings.” In that spirit, we made another visit to Victoria Island (where it’s -31 C with wind chill) this evening to pay our respect to the place where Chief Spence and Elder Robinson both sacrificed and taught us so much – and helped to spark an incredible movement. It was a privilege to have been able to visit the site several times during the hunger strike.

The Council of Canadians first expressed our solidarity with Chief Spence’s hunger-strike the evening before it began, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18436, and has been consistently supportive of her efforts. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow met with Chief Spence on December 23, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18631. Barlow also returned her Diamond Jubilee medal to Rideau Hall to press the Governor-General to meet with the Prime Minister and First Nations leaders, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18803. And key organizers for Chief Spence and Idle No More have met with us often in our Ottawa office and it has been our honour to provide support to them.

Additional campaign blogs can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22theresa+spence%22&paged=4.

The 13-point Declaration of Commitment can be read at http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/declaration-of-commitment-january-23-2013.