Shawn Atleo will return to the helm of the Assembly of First Nations just as Chief Theresa Spence is slated to end her fast on Thursday morning, signalling the next phase in a First Nations push to engage with the federal government on treaty implementation.
National Chief Atleo, who has been on doctor-ordered medical leave since Jan. 14, will resume his full duties following a ceremony at a special assembly of British Columbia chiefs in Vancouver at 9:15 a.m. local time Thursday morning.
According to a statement released by the AFN, which has been dogged by infighting and a battle of wills over how to deal with the Harper government, Mr. Atleo will address the assembly and emphasize the way forward and the need to maintain momentum now to achieve real progress and transformative change for First Nations citizens.
With the intensifying demand and opportunity to achieve justice, fairness and political, social and economic development for First Nations, National Chief Atleo will provide an update and set out expectations for next steps, the statement says.
Mr. Atleo will be joined by the assemblys B.C. regional chief and the man he appointed to carry out his duties in his stead, regional chief Roger Augustine, who represents New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. All three chiefs will address leaders gathered at a two-day assembly at a Vancouver recreation centre, which kicks off Thursday.
About an hour before Mr. Atleo officially resumes his duties, at 11 a.m. local time in Ottawa, Ms. Spence and Manitoba edler Raymond Robinson who have held off on solid foods since mid-December in a failed bid to secure a meeting with the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and First Nations leaders will speak publicly about breaking their fast.
Negotiations to end the fast which began more than 40 days ago when she left her northern Ontario community to set up camp on Victoria Island had already ramped up earlier this week, but the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reported that Ms. Spence faced pressure from within her own council.
They are coming in tonight, a source close to Ms. Spence told APTN. Then it will end.
A statement released by Ms. Spences camp on Wednesday evening confirmed the Attawapiskat chief would end her high-profile liquid-diet protest now that opposition leaders and First Nations supporters have endorsed a Declaration of Commitment.
The 13-point declaration, which among other things promises to maintain pressure on the Harper government to launch a thorough review of its two omnibus budget bills, was endorsed by the AFN executive, the Native Womens Association of Canada, the NDP national caucus and the Liberal Party, the statement said.
Manitoba chiefs gathered in Winnipeg for a two-day assembly also threw their formal support behind the declaration, calling Ms. Spence a brave warrior and commending her for bringing global awareness of the issues impacting Indigenous people across the country.
The statement released jointly by three Manitoba chiefs organizations, with the support of visiting chiefs from Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan struck a stern tone, saying the sovereign Nation-Crown Relationship is severely impaired by the Government of Canada.
Mr. Atleo also expressed his appreciation for Ms. Spences protest.
Our shared goal is simple and clear: to guarantee that our children can achieve the brighter future that they deserve, he said in an AFN statement. This is what every Chief across this country, every member of the Assembly of First Nations, will continue to fight to achieve.
National Post, with a file from The Canadian Press
(This story is a repost from the link below-http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/23/theresa-spence-agrees-to-end-44-day-hunger-protest-as-atleo-returns-to-afn-leadership/)