UPDATE 2-Canada natives block Harper's office, threaten unrest

Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:23pm EST
 
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* Harper meets about 20 chiefs; some native leaders boycott

* Ontario chief threatens blockades on Jan 16

* Nova Scotia rail line blockaded

* Idle No More aboriginal movement picks up steam

By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Aboriginal protesters blocked the main entrance to a building where Canada's prime minister was preparing to meet some native leaders on Friday, highlighting a deep divide within the country's First Nations on how to push Ottawa to heed their demands.

The noisy blockade, which lasted about an hour, ended just before Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his aides met with about 20 native chiefs, even as other leaders opted to boycott the session.

Chiefs have warned that the Idle No More aboriginal protest movement is prepared to bring the economy to its knees unless Ottawa addresses the poor living conditions and high jobless rates facing many of Canada's 1.2 million natives.

Native groups complain that successive Canadian governments have ignored treaties aboriginals signed with British settlers and explorers hundreds of years ago, treaties they say granted them significant rights over their territory.   Continued...