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B.C. First Nations leader says chief's health more vital than meeting with PM

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence talks with her family as she continues her hunger strike in a teepee in Ottawa, Dec. 25, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A First Nations leader from British Columbia is urging a northern Ontario chief to end her hunger strike aimed at winning a meeting with the prime minister and drawing attention to aboriginal issues.

Tk’emlups (teh-KEM’-lups) Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson says Theresa Spence’s 17-day hunger strike is both honourable and noble but he believes her point has been made.

He says Spence is fasting for many issues that are important to aboriginals but he says most of those issues will not be resolved soon, and he believes the chief’s health is more important.

Spence has eaten nothing but tea and fish broth since Dec. 11 as she presses for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

She has also vowed to die unless the Conservative government starts showing more respect to First Nations concerns and aboriginal treaties.

Gottfriedson says the next step is to begin a dialogue with the federal government and he says it shouldn’t take a meeting with the prime minister to get those talks underway. (CHNL)