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National News

Native leader begs Harper to help Spence

OTTAWA - The president of the Native Women's Association has written an emotional letter to the prime minister, pleading with him to do what it takes to end Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's five-week-long hunger protest.

Michele Audette says she has grown close to Spence and has spent a lot of time with the Cree leader in her teepee on Victoria Island, just upstream from the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

Audette says the only way Spence will heed the many calls for her to resume eating solid food is for the prime minister to revisit her original demand and attend a large gathering with First Nations and the Governor General on January 24.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did meet First Nations leaders last Friday, but since he didn't invite the Governor General as requested by Spence and others, many chiefs boycotted the session — leaving the Assembly of First Nations badly divided and Spence still on her liquid diet.

Since then, numerous chiefs and political leaders have begged her to declare victory, give up her strike and regain her health so that she can go back to lead her northern community.

The Idle-No-More movement says they are holding peaceful demonstrations across the country today to demand better conditions for aboriginal people.

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