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Spence ends hunger strike

Monday January 28, 2013
Chief Theresa Spence signs the declaration in Ottawa on Jan. 24.

After 44 days without eating, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and Cross Lake Elder Raymond Robinson ended their hunger strike on Jan. 24.

The hunger strike officially ended with the signing of a declaration of commitment signed by Spence, Robinson, First Nations leaders and federal opposition leaders, in which they agreed to continue to press the Harper government to address key issues.

The declaration, which contained 13 points, was worked out for days prior with NAN Deputy Chief Alvin Fiddler, Liberal interim leader Bob Rae, and NDP MP Romeo Saganash among others acting as facilitators.

At the recommendation of family, Spence had spent the previous night in hospital for a checkup and arrived unannounced at a ceremony held by NAN in honour of her, Robinson and Mi’qmak Elder Joseph Jean Sock, who also fasted.

Spence signed the declaration and told the First Nations leaders, which included representatives from northern Ontario, Manitoba, and AFN, that they need to carry on the fight.

“I just want to give a message to the chiefs,” she told the gathering. “Stay together no matter what hardship we go through and no matter what the government intends to do to divide us.”

Spence started the hunger strike on Dec. 11 with the demand that Prime Minister Stephan Harper and the governor general meet with First Nations leaders to discuss the treaty relationships, which Spence said is one-sided toward the government.

That demand is one of the points of the declaration.

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