Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence takes part in a drum ceremony before departing an Ottawa hotel to attend a ceremonial meeting at Rideau Hall with Gov. Gen. David Johnston in Ottawa on January 11, 2013. Ottawa is gearing up for a day of ceremonies to honour the 43-day hunger protest of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, but the roll-out of events will depend on whether she gets a clean bill of health
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Attawapiskat’s acting chief calls Theresa Spence’s hunger strike a victory.
Christine Kataquapit said she felt relieved when she heard Spence was ending her protest. Spence started her solid-food hunger strike on Dec. 11 in order to have a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Governor General.
She had wanted to meet to discuss the poor living conditions many First Nation communities face.
After six weeks of forgoing solid food, Spence announced she would be stopping. She was taken to hospital and placed on an intravenous line.
Kataquapit said Thursday they are monitoring her health to make sure she’s doing alright.
“This morning she’s feeling a lot better,” Kataquapit said in a phone interview with tbnewswatch.com from Ottawa.
“She kept contacting our office and saying ‘I’m doing OK.’ I just wanted to support her and she wanted her community to pray for her. It is a victory. It took a woman to stand up and speak for the entire nation and even outside of the country. She was willing to die for her people.”
Spence became a central figure during the Idle No More movement. Kataquapit said Idle No More will continue even though Spence is ending her hunger strike.
The protest demanded the attention of Harper, his ministers and top officials but it also caused a divide among Canadians and those in other countries who wanted to see more help for Aboriginals and those who believed they already received too much.
The end of the solid food hunger strike came as other chiefs and politicians signed a 13-point declaration committing them to seeking immediate improvements to housing and education, a meeting of First Nations chiefs, the prime minister and Governor General and full implementation of treaty and aboriginal rights within five years.
Fort William First Nation chief Peter Collins said he hasn’t seen the declaration commitment yet but hopes to see the documents soon.
He also called Spence’s protest a victory.
“Her ending the strike has been something we’ve been looking forward to,” Collins said.
“There was a lot of pressure on her to give up the hunger strike. All the chiefs across the country, the prime minister and the country have gotten the message.”
Collins hopes the next step will be to discuss revenue sharing and implementing the treaties properly.
He said the 13 communities within the region will be meeting to discuss how the treaty will be implemented.
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-- With files from the Canadian Press