Canada PM meets aboriginal protesters ahead of Canada Day

Freddy Stoneypoint far left and Candace Day Neveu far right are part of a group of young people taking part in an Indigenous ceremony on Parliament Hill that was met with resistance by police on Wednesday night

OTTAWA-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau paid an unexpected visit with indigenous activists who have erected a teepee on Parliament Hill ahead of Canada Day celebrations.

And with members of the royal family, politicians, celebrities and thousands of Canadians in attendance in Ottawa, security was tight in the nation's capital.

The activists have told the Star that the goal of their "reoccupation" of Parliament Hill is to highlight how Canada's 150th anniversary is a painful reminder of residential schools, the appropriation of land, and decades of government-sponsored assimilation of Indigenous peoples.

But some indigenous groups complain their treatment has been overlooked. Nine people were arrested, though later released, and the teepee was set up near the perimeter of the Hill.

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The prime minister now seems to be looking forward to the events themselves.

"In the context of Canada 150, it is our time to reflect on the darker chapters that happened in our history and also work towards reconciliation and make sure that the next 150 years are way better when it comes to relationships with Indigenous Peoples".

The government is estimated to have spent half a billion Canadian dollars ($386m; £296m) on the festivities. KFC has temporarily rebranded itself "K'ehFC", in reference to the Canadian slang, while coffee shop Tim Hortons is selling a poutine donut - although only at selected USA outlets.

Canada Day, held on July 1, marks the merging of four former British colonies into a single new country. It is a national holiday. The country grew in size in the years that followed and finally achieved complete autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1931.

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