(Elder Raymond Robinson. APTN/File Photo)
APTN National News
OTTAWA–Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is scheduled to meet with hunger-striking Manitoba Elder Raymond Robinson on Friday in Ottawa.
Robinson, from Cross Lake First Nation, began his hunger strike Wednesday and also said he wouldn’t drink any water during the hunger strike which he plans to hold until Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with First Nations leaders on a “nation-to-nation” basis and the department of Aboriginal Affairs scraps controversial changes to its funding agreements with First Nations.
Valcourt’s office reached out to Robinson for the meeting and the date was finalized Wednesday evening.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister’s Office indicated Valcourt was ready to meet with Robinson.
“The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs is prepared to meet with Raymond Robinson, or any First Nation community member who wants to make progress for First Nations,” said a PMO spokesperson in an email to APTN National News.
Robinson said he was open to a meeting with Valcourt.
“I’m more than willing to sit down with him,” said Robinson, during a short cell phone interview with APTN National News shortly before a planned speaking appearance at Concordia University in Montreal.
The PMO said Valcourt also met with Cross Lake Chief Garrison Settee last Wednesday and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper to talk about education and housing issues.
Robinson’s decision to go without water during the hunger strike has put him on a perilous course that would see him face serious health issues within days.
“Like all reasonable people, we encourage Raymond Robinson to continue to consume food and water,” said the PMO statement.
Robinson accompanied Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during her protest fast which ran from December until January and was held on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River. Robinson’s nephew was murdered in Cross Lake during that time.
Spence told APTN National News that she “understood” Robinson’s protest, but was “concerned.”
Robinson is expected to soon go into seclusion for the majority of the hunger strike.
A human body can only go a few days without water before the kidneys start to fail.