Hunger-striking chief pushes Harper to lead change

OTTAWA – On the eve of a day of aboriginal protest, the hunger-striking chief of the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation is again calling for a meeting with the prime minister and Canada’s governor general.

Chief Theresa Spence issued an open letter Thursday to Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

In it, she urges them to embark on a national discussion about the state of poverty among aboriginal communities.

Spence, who began a hunger strike Dec. 11, says many First Nations communities face impoverished conditions, despite assurances from the government that progress is being made to alleviate poverty.

A movement dubbed Idle No More is planning a rally Friday on Parliament Hill to demand the Conservative government reverse legislation that it says will affect treaties and traditional land use.

Similar protests have been held this week across Canada, including today in Quebec, where dozens of Mohawk protesters walked up the on-ramp of a bridge that links downtown Montreal to the city’s south shore.

The hour-long march was in protest of Bill C-45, the government’s omnibus budget legislation, which opponents say weakens environmental protections in Canada.

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