Spence set to end 43-day protest

Ottawa is gearing up for a day of ceremonies to honour the 43-day liquid diet of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, but the roll-out of events will depend on whether she gets a clean bill of health.

Organizers said she went to the hospital Wednesday night just to make sure everything was OK after more than six weeks without solid food.

They were awaiting word this morning about her health.

A plan for a sunrise ceremony at Spence's teepee on Victoria Island near Parliament Hill was scrapped as it was overshadowed by other events.

But other ceremonies planned throughout the day were still expected to go ahead. Elders are making their way to the island despite temperatures close to -30 C, and chiefs and politicians are preparing for a larger gathering at midday at a downtown hotel.

Spence's spokesman announced Wednesday that Spence was ending her protest now that other chiefs and federal opposition parties have vowed to take up her cause of treaty implementation and improved conditions on reserves.

They will sign a 13-point declaration today that commits them to seek immediate improvements to native housing and education, a meeting of First Nations chiefs, the prime minister and Governor General and full implementation of treaty and aboriginal rights within five years.

"We agree the self-sacrifice and the spiritual courage of Chief Theresa Spence, along with Elder Raymond Robinson and all other fasters ... have made clear the need for fundamental change in the relationship of First Nations and the Crown," the declaration states.

"We fully commit to carry forward the urgent and co-ordinated action required until concrete and tangible results are achieved in order to allow First Nations to forge their own destiny," says the preamble to the declaration.

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