The Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, has advised Attawapiskat Chief, Theresa Spence, to give up her renowned hunger strike and accept the requests of meeting made by the Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan. Aglukkaq, who is Canada’s first Inuit cabinet minister, stated on Friday that negotiating with Duncan is “the best way to address her issues.”
Spence has almost entered the third week of her hunger strike in protest to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and First Nations leaders for discussing their living standards. Chief Spence have ignored more than one requests made by Duncan to arrange a meeting, though she did spend almost 45 minutes with Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau earlier this week. Furthermore, Aglukkaq shielded the Conservative government’s efforts to improve aboriginal affairs by pointing out that just last January, almost 170 chiefs from across Canada met with Harper, Johnston and 12 cabinet ministers. She stated that “through that process, a number of recommendations were made” and “those recommendations were given to our government to respond to and we are doing that.”
Aglukkaq ignored the questions regarding the nationwide ‘Idle No More’ movement, which has conducted numerous demonstrations and protests against the omnibus budget Bill C-45. The bill allegedly eliminates federally protected waterways, while allowing the sale of reserve lands without consultation with First Nations. During an interview on Wednesday, Chief Spence simply inquired Harper, that why is he “afraid to meet with” First Nations, claiming that it’s just “a simple request.”
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