TORONTO (Reuters) - An aboriginal chief who has staged a six-week hunger strike in a teepee near Canada’s Parliament to draw attention to native living standards will end her protest on Thursday, her spokesman said.
Theresa Spence, a chief from a remote Ontario reserve, agreed to end the strike after talks with other native groups and opposition political parties, spokesman Danny Metatawabin said.
Spence traveled to Ottawa in December and set up camp on a small island in the Ottawa River to raise awareness about living conditions for natives across Canada.
She became a focal point of an unprecedented Canadian aboriginal protest movement called “Idle No More” that began with four women in the province of Saskatchewan.
They were protesting legislation by Canada’s Conservative government that they believe reduces environmental protection for lakes and rivers.
Aided by Facebook and Twitter, their protest proliferated and drew comparisons to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
The campaign aimed to draw attention to problems faced by many of the country’s 1.2 million natives.
Ottawa spends about C$11 billion ($11.1 billion) a year on its aboriginal population, but living conditions for many are poor, and some reserves have high rates of poverty, addiction, joblessness and suicide.
Reporting by Russ Blinch, editing by Stacey Joyce