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Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, wearing a headdress, takes part in a drum ceremony before departing a Ottawa hotel to attend a ceremonial meeting at Rideau Hall with Gov. Gen. David Johnston in Ottawa, Friday January 11, 2013. (FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, wearing a headdress, takes part in a drum ceremony before departing a Ottawa hotel to attend a ceremonial meeting at Rideau Hall with Gov. Gen. David Johnston in Ottawa, Friday January 11, 2013. (FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Governor-General offers chief 'special welcome' at ceremonial meeting Add to ...

Gov. Gen. David Johnston offered Theresa Spence a “special welcome” and said he wanted “to say how concerned I am about your health and that of Raymond Robinson and Jean Sock.” Mr. Robinson and Mr. Sock are two aboriginals who are also staging hunger protests.

“My deepest wish is for the well-being of all Canadians, and for dialogue to always take place in a safe and healthy manner,” Mr. Johnston said in prepared remarks released Friday night by Rideau Hall. The meeting wrapped up shortly after 9 p.m. ET, a spokesperson said.

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Ms. Spence, the First Nation chief whose month-long hunger protest has helped to fan the flames of the Idle No More protest movement, emerged from her island encampment Friday to meet with Mr. Johnston.

Ms. Spence, chief of the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, has been on a liquids-only diet for the past month in hopes of securing a meeting with Mr. Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

She joined a group of her fellow chiefs at a downtown Ottawa hotel before heading to Rideau Hall, for an evening meeting described by officials as “ceremonial.” Looking frail and tired, she walked gingerly with the help of several handlers.

At one point, she stood briefly in a room full of chiefs, wearing a headdress, to be feted by a group of aboriginal drummers. Her health, however, is seriously diminished, said spokesman Danny Metatawabin, who admitted surprise at her appearance at the hotel.

“She’s tired, she’s weak. She’s weakening. Got cramps in her stomach. We’re all praying for her,” Mr. Metatawabin said.

“The body’s stressed right now because of all the commotion of today.”

She later boarded one of two buses waiting to ferry the group to Rideau Hall.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and several of Ms. Spence’s fellow chiefs were among those publicly urging Ms. Spence to end her protest, saying her health is in danger and she accomplished what she set out to do.

"I have been very much wanting to have a conversation with Theresa Spence, I’ve offered multiple times, and I expressed concern again today; there were many people in the room who expressed major concern.”

The meeting with Mr. Johnston caps a pivotal day in Ottawa that included a meeting between Harper and First Nations leaders.

Thousands of aboriginal protesters and their supporters also flooded Parliament Hill and staged Idle No More demonstrations across Canada in a show of solidarity.

Earlier Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended a full three-and-a-half hour meeting with First Nations leaders Friday afternoon, as protests in Ottawa and across the country continue.

Mr. Harper had initially planned to attend only the first half hour and the last hour of the meeting, but his press secretary, Carl Vallée, wrote on Twitter after the meeting began that the Prime Minister would stay in the room until the meeting ends at 5 p.m.

The highly politicized meeting took place in the prime minister’s Langevin Block office, across the street from Parliament Hill.

Mr. Harper and Shawn Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, agreed to meet again within a month to continue their “high level dialogue” on comprehensive land claims.

About 20 First Nations leaders chose to attend the meeting, representing most areas of the country — even after a tumultuous night of talks that saw chief after chief reject the meeting because it was not on their turf or on their terms.

As the meeting began, thousands of protesters gathered in front of Parliament Hill.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Treasury Board Secretary Tony Clement attended the meeting along with Mr. Harper and the native leaders, according to a list circulated by the government.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, whom First Nations were hoping to meet to discuss a different way of sharing the bounty from natural resource extraction, was not on the list.

On the First Nations side, Manitoba, Ontario and Northwest Territories leaders stuck to their guns and did not send high-level representation, according to lists of attendees from the government and from the Assembly of First Nations.

Meanwhile, some First Nations leaders threatened on Friday morning to shut down major transportation corridors to stress the depth of their grievances with the Harper government.

Some chiefs said they were waiting Friday at an Ottawa hotel where they have been meeting all week for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to show up for a meeting.

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