Spence, who remains on a hunger strike and is camped out on an island in the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill, told the protesters before the meeting that Aborigines should have an opportunity to hold the government accountable for years of broken promises.
“This meeting’s been overdue for so many years,” she said.
Spence agreed to attend the ceremonial meeting with Johnston moments before it began on Friday.
Other chiefs said the protests will escalate unless Harper and Johnston agree to meet with them on Friday together in one room at an Ottawa hotel on their own terms.
First Nations leader Gordon Peters of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians threatened to block major economic corridors, such as border crossings to the US, next week.
He said about 200,000 Aborigines in Ontario would launch a “day of action” on Wednesday if their demands are not met.
First Nations would move to “stop roads, rails, transportation of goods,” Peters said. “We just have to walk out on our land and stop it.”