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Canada PM meets Aboriginal chiefs

Ap
Sunday, January 13, 2013

TORONTO - Hundreds of Aboriginal rights activists have protested in front of Canada's parliament as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Aboriginal chiefs meet.

The meeting has divided the Aboriginal community, with some chiefs boycotting the summit because Governor General David Johnston, a representative of Queen Elizabeth II, is not attending.

They argue his presence is imperative because he's a representative of the British monarchy and the talks centre on treaty rights first established by the Royal Proclamation of 1793.

Johnston is scheduled to meet separately with chiefs following the summit yesterday, but some chiefs say that isn't enough.

National Chief Shawn Atleo, the elected head of the Assembly of First Nations, Canada's main body of Aboriginal leaders, agreed to meet Harper.

Among those boycotting was Chief Theresa Spence, who launched a liquids-only hunger strike a month ago to demand the summit.

Spence, the chief of Attawapiskat, a northern Ontario reserve, has become a central figure of Aboriginal rights protests that erupted almost two months ago against a budget bill that affects Canada's Indian Act and amends environmental laws.


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