By Linda Hoang
First Nations, Métis and supporters in Edmonton came together for an ‘Idle No More’ demonstration downtown Monday afternoon.
Police estimate more than 1,500 people attended the demonstration, which coincides with International Day for Human Rights.
Protesters say First Nations lands and treaty rights are being infringed upon through the government’s contentious omnibus budget bill.
“The reason we’re gathering as one nation is because the Government of Canada, Stephen Harper, has put through an omnibus bill that will affect the treaties and the ability for the people on the treaty territories to make decisions in regards to land, resources and minerals,” said Elder Taz Bouchier.
Bill C-45 was more than 400 pages long and, like its predecessors, made changes to a myriad of rules and regulations.
First Nations groups are concerned over changes to the Indian Act, some of which may affect the leasing of reserve lands and how decisions involving band territories are made. First Nations are also opposed to amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which removed thousands of lakes and streams from federal protection under that law, something the Conservatives said would help remove red tape that held up projects along waterways.
Opposition parties argue that it removes environmental oversight of some of Canada's most valued lakes and rivers.
“Bill C-45 specifically attacks the treaty statuses and treaty rights around lands in Canada and therefore we as a people have decided there needs to be mass movements across the nation, helping this government understand we are still here, the treaties are still alive and they need to be abided by,” Bouchier said.
A group of First Nations chiefs frustrated with what they say is a lack of consultation over measures in the bill attempted to get in the chamber of the House of Commons last week and had a brief confrontation with security staff.
Pam Palmater, chair of indigenous governance of Toronto’s Ryerson University told CTV’s Power Play last week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper specifically promised First Nations leaders that his government would not approve any unilateral changes to the Indian Act, but “he has broken that promise with at least eight pieces of legislation since.”
Palmater said aboriginal groups are considering “all options,” including seeking a court injunction.
By Scott Harris
Thousands more joined rallies and marches to mark the national day of action in Vancouver, Whitehorse, Calgary, Stand Off, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Goose Bay-Happy Valley.
The Idle No More movement emerged less than four weeks ago from the grassroots of First Nations communities in Saskatchewan. It began as an effort to educate First Nations people on the legislation being put forward by the Harper government that they feel is a direct attack on the rights of First Nations. The organizers Sylvia McAdam, Jess Gordon, Nina Wilson and Sheelah McLean began by organizing "teach-ins" to inform people.
Opposition by First Nations to Bill C-45 garnered national attention last week during when 300 First Nations Chiefs marched on Parliament hill, and several Chiefs, led by Chief Fox, went inside Parliament to deliver a message to the government. This refusal to allow First Nations leadership to respectfully enter the House of Commons triggered an even greater mobilization of First Nation peoples across the country.
By Aaron Paquette
At issue is the breaking of spiritual and legally binding promises by the Government of Canada. At issue is the continuing colonization of the original peoples of this land.
The movement is called #IdleNoMore and the issue is Bill-C45, an omnibus bill that tosses in everything but the kitchen sink, all attached to the budget. It’s designed this way in order to slip as many egregious changes to legislation as possible under the radar. If you catch one, there will be ten more that won’t get as much attention.
It doesn’t just affect those who have been dominated by the Indian Act. It affects all Canadians, and especially our children.
And that’s why all Canadians need to learn what is happening and need to stand up with their Indigenous sisters and brothers. Cousins, we are all in this together.
If you don’t care about leaving a clean place for your children then you might as well stop reading now. Because this is about dealing with things today, so that those yet unborn can have their tomorrows.
I am an artist. I deal in pattern recognition. And anyone else who sees patterns knows what I’m talking about.
This government is attempting to systematically sell off our resources and make even more resources available for exploitation. It’s a short term game plan and one that this current government doesn’t even hope to survive. But by the time the next election rolls around it will be too late to stop all the destruction. Sure, the Conservatives will be voted out (unless Canadians go back to sleep again), but their friends will already be enriched, their ideology will have been advanced and they will likely have future seats on corporate boards and their MP pensions.
Don’t worry about them, they’ll be all right.
And they will leave the rest of you holding the environmental and economic bag, much like the Republicans did to Americans, who are still digging their way out of the mess that was left behind.
This is much greater than angry protesting natives, this is about becoming aware of the world in which you live.