Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence ended her 44-day hunger strike January 24. The same day, Elder Raymond Robinson, of the Cree Cross Lake Indian Reserve in Manitoba, ended his own hunger strike. Robinson had joined Spence two days into her protest in December.

The circumstances of Spence’s decision to end her strike – following the great success of the Idle No More movement, of which she had quickly become a figurehead – were summed up in a declaration released January 24. It said the hunger strike had succeeded in making “clear the need for fundamental change in the relationship of First Nations and the Crown,” and underlined the commitment “to carry forward the urgent and coordinated action required until concrete and tangible results are achieved in order to allow First Nations to forge their own destiny.”

More specifically, the declaration called for “a renewed First Nations-Crown relationship where inherent Treaty and non-Treaty Rights are recognized, honoured and fully implemented as they should be, within the next five years,” and laid out a set of 13 priorities to begin working toward immediately.

The declaration was signed and endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae, the Liberal Party of Canada Parliamentary Caucus, the NDP National Caucus and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

After spending the night in hospital (which caused her to miss the press conference announcing the end of the strike) to receive IV fluids following 44 days of consuming only fish broth and herbal tea, Spence signed the declaration herself at a ceremony in an Ottawa hotel.