The group, in an effort to unify its fronts, have released a plan of action:
-- Support and encourage grassroots to create their own forums to learn more about Indigenous rights and responsibilities to Native nationhood via teach-ins, rallies and social media.
-- Build relationships and create understanding with allies across Canada.
-- Take steps to contribute to building relationships with international agencies such as the United Nations to raise awareness to the conditions indigenous people have been subjected to and assert sovereignty in the international arena.
-- Acknowledge and honor the hard work of all grassroots people who have worked, and continue to work towards these goals and are the true inspiration.
A column makes similar points:
Lakritz: Idle No More long on rhetoric, short on action
By Naomi Lakritz
On Idle No More’s website, a woman named Tami Starlight alluded to this problem when she wrote in part: “Indigenous actions have been taking place since first contact. We need to build our own capacity as nations and confront the colonial systems we are all mired in. Rallies are just that—rallies. The same with petitions. Most have no bearing on anything and are not legally binding ... Promoting the false sense of accomplishment is problematic at best.”
Idle No More’s action plan states: “Support and encourage grassroots to create their own forums to learn more about Indigenous rights and our responsibilities to our Nationhood via teach-ins, rallies and social media. Build relationships and create understanding with allies across Canada. Take steps to contribute to building relationships with international agencies such as the UN to raise awareness to the conditions Indigenous people have been subjected to and assert our sovereignty in the international arena. Acknowledge and honour the hard work of all grassroots people who have worked, and continue to work toward these goals—you are our inspiration.”
These are not goals. This is talk. And talking should not be mistaken for action. Or, as another online poster commented below Starlight’s post: “What is the Plan beyond the points above? We need one.”
A later posting is a bit more specific:
First Nations chiefs contemplate “breach of treaty” declarations, indefinite economic disruptions
By Jorge Barrera
During three days of meetings and teleconferences, chiefs from across the country discussed a plan setting Jan. 16 as the day to launch a campaign of indefinite economic disruptions, including railway and highway blockades, according to two chiefs who were involved in the talks who requested anonymity.
“The people are restless, they are saying enough is enough,” said one chief, who was involved in the discussions. “Economic impacts are imminent if there is no response.”
Chiefs were still finalizing details of their plans Monday evening and it remained unclear to what extent their discussed options would translate into the official position.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo is expected to write Harper a letter outlining the chiefs’ position.
Spence launched her hunger strike on Dec. 11 to force a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General David Johnston and First Nations leaders to discuss the state of the treaties. Spence said in a statement issued Monday that the aim of the meeting was to “re-establish” the treaty relationship and finally put First Nations people in their “rightful place back here in our homelands that we all call Canada.”
“All we are doing is reasserting our own sovereign right and inherent right within this treaty,” said a second chief, who was also involved in the discussions. “The time has come that they need to see we are a sovereign entity, we have and always will be because of the relationship of treaty that was entered into by the Crown and numerous nations.”
Finally, here's a much clearer statement of Idle No More's grievances and objectives:
Idle No More: What do we want and where are we headed?
By Pamela Palmater
We of course worked very hard to try all the usual channels to address our growing concerns, which included lobbying, letter-writing, testifying before Senate and Parliament, endless meetings with MPs, Senators, Ministers and others--all to no avail. The Harper government was not interested in talking to us, let alone consulting or getting our consent. Harper decided instead to use the Assembly of First Nations as his primary vehicle to call all the shots. Harper's government set the agenda, they drafted the joint action plans and they alone decided what was and was not on the table. In other words, Harper managed to bully his assimilation plan onto the First Nation agenda with hardly a squeak of opposition at the political level.
At the co-called Crown-First Nation Gathering (CFNG) last January 2012, Harper promised First Nations his government would not unilaterally amend or repeal the Indian Act. After the CFNG, he broke that promise and proceeded with an aggressive legislative agenda that will include upwards of 14 bills that will devastate our First Nations in various ways. It is the White Paper 2012 with a twist--instead of it being a policy, like the 1969 White Paper, which wanted to assimilate Indians, Harper's plan will be law. This is the spark that ignited the Idle No More movement into action.
We always knew action would be required at some point, but the legislation posed an imminent threat and required immediate mobilization. That is how a movement was born. In the early days, some were calling the Idle No More movement, some calling it an Indigenous rights movements, but we all agreed that we needed to immediately oppose Harper's assimilatory legislative agenda. So many of the early activities included teach-ins which helped explain the legislation's potential impacts on First Nations and more importantly, what we could do to oppose it.
Early protests started out as opposing the massive omnibus Bill C-45, but later came to include the whole suite.
(1) In the short term, Canada must withdraw the suite of legislation impacting First Nations, amend those omnibus bills which threaten our lands and waters, and restore the funding that was cut to our First Nation advocacy organizations and communities;
(2) In the long term, Canada must set up a Nation to Nation process whereby First Nations and Canada can address many of the long outstanding issues related to the implementation of treaties and sharing the lands and resources.
Ultimately, we want to be free--free to govern ourselves as we choose; free to enjoy our identities, cultures, languages and traditions--i.e., to live the good life as we see fit. This means Canada must respect our sovereignty and get out of the business of managing our lives. Given that Canada has worked hard to put us in the situation we are in, Harper will have to come to table with some good faith and offer some solutions to address the current crisis facing many of our communities in relation to the basic essentials of life--water, sanitation, housing, and education. If Harper can do no more than appear at a meeting on January 24th as requested by the AFN, our most vulnerable citizens will not see justice.
For more on Idle No More, see Racism Against Idle No More and Idle No More in Los Angeles.