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Manitoba men join hunger strike for aboriginal rights

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Two northern Cree men are fasting in northern Manitoba in support of Chief Theresa Spence’s 10-day-old hunger strike.

Raymond Robinson, a worker for residential school survivors in Cross Lake, announced his fast a day after Spence started hers on Dec. 11.

"Today’s his ninth day. He’s in Cross Lake at his home," said Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief Garrison Settee Thursday. "I spent time with him yesterday. He told me he was weak, his mobility around the house is limited and he gets dizzy, but he was able to talk to me."

Spence is the chief from the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, whose hunger strike is taking place in a teepee in the shadow of Parliament Hill.

Spence, who was weakening and in seclusion on Ottawa’s Victoria Island Thursday, has vowed to keep fasting until she meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other leaders on land management, the environment and treaty rights.

Robinson said in a nearly 10-minute YouTube video posted Wednesday night that he’s fasting until Harper agrees to meet with him and Spence together.

The video shows Robinson, 51, playing a guitar, singing, with a hand drum and an eagle feather beside him on a sofa.

Wilson Hardie, from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Nelson House, is also concerned with treaty, land and water rights, his chief Jerry Primrose said Thursday.

"I talked to him briefly but that was the extent of it, at the beginning of the week," Primrose said. "I said to him, ‘You do whatever you think is right.’ "

Treaty, land and water rights erupted as a political issue with provisions to curb them in Bill C-45 the omnibus budget bill.

Since then, it’s grown into a movement, called Idle No More, fuelled by social media buzz.

Supporters who hold the rights inviolate under treaties, have staged grassroots rallies and flash mobs in cities from Halifax to Vancouver.

Cross Lake and Norway House chiefs called for an early morning rally today at Winnipeg’s Greenwood Inn followed by a walk to Richardson International Airport.

At noon, Idle No More is also calling for a rally at The Forks. Plans call for a walk from The Forks to arrive at the legislature by 1:30 p.m., with both events timed to coincide with a Parliament Hill rally with First Nations people heading to Canada’s capital.

Two flash mob round dances, similar to ones held in shopping malls in Edmonton and Cornwall, Ont., this week, are slated for Saturday in Winnipeg at Portage Place at 3 p.m. and Polo Park at 5 p.m.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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