The Idle No More Movement began with four women: Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean. It has evolved into a movement that has spread across Canada and the international stage.
Idle No More began in early October when Bill C-45 was being discussed. The movement’s focus is on grassroots voices, treaty rights and sovereignty. Bill C-45 is a 457-page omnibus budget legislation bill (also known as the Jobs and Growth Act) that will make changes to several Canadian laws and enactments that include the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Act.
For First Nations people, the passing of Bill C-45 eliminates treaty rights. It will allow First Nations to lease out/surrender reserve lands based on votes taken at a single meeting, rather than a majority vote from an entire First Nation (AKA community consent). It also exempts companies behind major pipeline and inter-provincial power line projects
from needing to prove that they won’t damage or destroy navigable waterways in Canada. This is dangerous in itself because it will interrupt First Nations peoples and their ability to continue a traditional lifestyle of hunting, trapping and fishing on their lands.
The four women who began this movement held rallies and teach-ins to generate discussion and to provide information surrounding Bill C-45 and the effects it could have on everyone if it was approved and signed into legislation. A National Day of Solidarity and Resurgence was called on for December 10, 2012 to oppose all legislation and to build solidarity. First Nations people and allies stood in solidarity across the country in more than 13 locations: Vancouver, Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Stand-Off, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Goose Bay-Happy Valley.
By passing Bill C-45, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government of Canada are ignoring First Nations rights and have literally diminished the need to consider the impacts these changes will make on First Nations water resources. Furthermore, Canada has intentionally failed to fulfill its constitutionally obligated responsibility to consult affected First Nations before the Senate passed the bill.
As opposition to Bill C-45 has continued to grow, we have become witnesses to flash mob round dances, and stands in solidarity happening all over Canada. It has been amazing to see that there has also been support from as far away as the UK, Egypt, Australia, New Mexico, Los Angeles and other parts of the US.
The Idle No More Movement has grown into a national phenomenom and demands that everyone stand up and stand together. It is time that we all say we are IDLE NO MORE to Stephen Harper and his colonist ways.
For more information regarding the Idle No More movement, please visit http://www.idlenomore.ca
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s ongoing hunger strike.