Canada pledges better water for aboriginals amid blockade threat
* Canadian government pledges help over two years
* Natives threaten to expand blockades if demands not met
* Canadian opposition leader says aboriginal movement is strong
By Russ Blinch
TORONTO, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Canada will spend C$330.8 million over the next two years to improve water systems on aboriginal lands, as the Conservative government tries to deal with growing unrest on native reservations.
The government said it will improve water systems in more than 50 First Nation communities on reserves where residents often complain of deplorable infrastructure and housing.
"Our Government is committed to addressing water and wastewater issues on reserves to ensure that First Nations communities have access to safe drinking water," Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said in a statement.
The announcement followed a meeting between Canadian native leaders and the federal government on Friday, where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to pay more attention to the demands of First Nations groups.
Under the banner of "Idle No More," native groups have been blocking roads and railways as well as staging hunger strikes to protest conditions on the reserves. Continued...