Frustration, inaction and the continued deterioration of aboriginal and treaty rights by the Federal government have now reached its breaking point. Women and students have come to the forefront to start the grassroots protests against what Harper is doing.
Today, December 10th has been declared the #Idle No More, National Day of Action, a day to raise indigenous voices across the country and let the world know of indigenous resurgence and call to action. Powerful messages that need to be heard.
Protests, marches, prayers, letter writing and a hunger strike are among the kinds of activities happening on this day.
WHAT IS HAPPENING and where:
BC: Vancouver, BC, Merritt
Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton, Louis Bull, Piikani, Saddle Lake
Saskatchewan: Regina (happened Sunday, March 9th)
Saskatoon, North Battleford
Ontario: Toronto, Ottawa
Hunger Strike by Chief Theresa Spence of Attapaskiwat
Newfoundland/Labrador: Happy Valley-Goose Bay
And more people are organizing, so there may even be more than what I have outlined here.
You can tell this is a real grass movement when there are several First Nations that are staging protests in their communities. As well, when there is a Chief who is willing to go on a hunger strike to bring attention to the plight of her community, you know that people are serious.
The Chiefs and leaders said they will attend these events and support the grass roots, this is a movement of the people, and that will be respected. Grand Chief Nepinak of the Manitoba Chiefs quoted Ghandi and said “there go my people, I must Follow…”
So what has pushed the people to rise up in this fashion? It is the total disregard by the Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper to deal fairly with our people, to consult with the Honour of the Crown, to live up to promises he made on reconciliation, and to boldly push forward two omnibus bills which impact negatively on our rights by lowering environmental standards and accelerating the rate at which development can happen within our territories. The Tyee called Bill C-38 “the Environmental Destruction Act”. This is now law.
It is too bad that people all across Canada didn’t rise up against the Harper government when they passed omnibus Bill C-38 disguised as a “Budget Bill”. There was some push back but not enough so Harper knew he could do the same again with Bill C45 in this sitting of the legislature. How far can you push people? I think Harper has pushed too far and they are starting to push back.
What is the kind of things indigenous peoples are angry over?
*600+ Missing and Murdered women across Canada and the inaction of governments to prevent more
*10,000+children in care and not enough resources to change this
*No or little revenue sharing from the traditional territories of our Nations
*Not dealing with all residential school legacies
*Canada China Trade Deal better known as FPIP: which will increase development in our territories at a lower environmental standard
*A whole list of bills where inadequate consultations with First Nations has occurred
· Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act (passed in House of Commons)
· Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
· Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
· Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
· Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act [Private Conservative MP’s Bill,
· S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
· Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill
These issues are the tip of the iceberg. The issue of a First Nations Education Act is also being pushed by the Federal Government and they could care less whether First Nations are willing to work with them or not. This was what Minister Duncan said in October after the chiefs rejected a National Education Act. It is this arrogance, could care less and we have the power and will do whatever we want and we know what is good for you attitude that has First Nations people up in arms. Never before has there been such a deluge of proposed national legislation regarding First Nations. Also being talked about by the Federal government is a private property ownership system on the reserve. Major, major changes and this government does not want to sit down and engage with First Nations communities from the beginning to address these issues. Yes, the Indian Act does not work, and the feds are not asking how can WE work on this together? Yes, 600+ First Nations are a lot to work with, but systems can be put in place to do so but are First Nations being asked how this could be done? No! Harper just doesn’t want to take the time, energy and resources to work with First Nations. Obviously he prefers confrontation and negativity to creating a positive working relationship as this is the climate he has fostered.
Reconciliation and progress cannot happen for Canada without the First Nations people being respected for their rights, title and interests in the lands and resources in this country. I am not sure why Harper has not learned that lesson yet. So, these are SOME of the reasons there is a huge ground swell of community people raising their voices, kicking into action because too much is happening and they want to support their leaders or where leaders are not speaking loud enough, do it for them. The time has come to put more pressure on the government and there is a great excitement amongst the youth and women that they are making this happening. I say “Canada watch out”.
I remember so many times in the 16 years as Chief Negotiator for my First Nation and 14 years as Chief, that I would tell the governments, you really need to get serious and settle aboriginal rights and title and our outstanding issues. This is the generation to do it with. The next generation does not have the patience we do, they do not have the will to let things drag on. If you leave it to the next generation, it will be a whole different playing field. We are seeing that happen now.
The impromptu AFN rally on Parliament Hill last Tuesday added to the growing movement or unrest. Community people watched Chiefs denied access to Parliament. People watched while a few Chiefs that were invited in by MP Charlie Angus made it in the building and acted with respect in the halls of Parliament. They then saw the incident being portrayed by the Media as “Chiefs storming” Parliament Hill.
When the government refuses to listen, refuses to work with First Nations in a good way, then people have to find other means to have their voices heard. That is what is happening today!
After returning to the AFN Assembly of Chiefs, a Statement of Unity to Honour our people and Our land was adopted unanimously by all the Chiefs in attendance:
We formally call upon our citizens – our men, youth, women, elders, warriors and all other allies – to unify and support one another during this time of attacks on our governments and nations,
The First Nation Chiefs in Assembly, from this day forward, declare unity and resolve to forcefully defend our lands, territories, peoples and jurisdiction.
(To read the entire statement go to:http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/12-12-07_nc_bulletin_fe2.pdf)
So on December 10, 2012, the grassroots, the women, the youth, the people are gathering in strength across the country to communicate to the world that enough is enough! Time to do things differently and a time to take action! #IDLE NO MORE. Remember that phrase for it is the phrase that began this movement of the indigenous peoples resurgence.
See also Windspeaker’s summary of issues and events located at: