THUNDER BAY – Idle No More continues. The simple reality of Idle No More can be found in concern and care for people who are concerned for their future and are increasingly less willing to sit by and let things happen. In Thunder Bay it is about feeling safe in a city where many people do not feel safe. It is about living in a city where the motto of respect is adopted by more and more people.
For Aboriginal people, it is about respect for their ways, and traditional culture and lands.
Idle No More Rally – Thunder Bay
At the Idle No More Rally in Thunder Bay, the crowd of several hundred people were greeted by Mayor Keith Hobbs. The Mayor spoke about the importance of respect in the community. There was a significant police presence at City Hall, mainly according to organizers to assist with traffic control. Hobbs as a former police officer told the gathering that it is “Important for both sides to show respect. There should be respect from the police to the people, and respect from the people for the police.”
Welcoming the Idle No More rally to City Hall, the Mayor shared that Thunder Bay is on the traditional lands of Fort William First Nation.
Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins spoke to the gathering, and explained how important the fight for Aboriginal Rights is for all the people. “We can not afford to lose this fight”, stated Collins.
Idle No More organizer Joyce Hunter stated, “Thunder Bay is inviting you to support the call for action made by the AFN Chiefs on Dec. 4, 2012, and reiterated again by Chief Theresa Spence on December 11 when she announced her hunger strike: the time has come to hit the reset button on the relationship between First Nations Peoples and their Treaty partner, the Crown of Canada”.
Treaty Rights Key for Idle No More
Hunter continued, “The unilateral imposition of these Bills is in direct violation of the treaties and the treaty relationship that the original peoples of Turtle Island made with the British Crown. Indigenous peoples and nations have not been consulted during the crafting of these pieces of legislation and therefore, the actions taken by the federal government does not reflect the international standard of free, prior and informed consent. There are many nations across this country, ourselves included, who are taking action(s) to reflect acts of Indigenous nationhood, sovereignty and jurisdiction in response to the passing of legislation such as Bill C-45 and we must continue on this path”.
“We are peacefully representing ourselves and timing today’s rally to coincide with the day Parliament reconvenes after the Christmas break to remind these politicians: That we will not stand idly by while those not yet born are robbed of their birthrights”.
The message of Idle No More includes Treaty Rights, a focus on protecting the environment, and that First Nations people are a part of Canada.
The gathering was one where people kept coming long after the 4:00 start time. The entire event was a peaceful teaching and walk. Thunder Bay Police in a statement issued after the rally thanked both organizers and motorists for their co-operation. “The Thunder Bay Police would like to thank all participants with the Idle No More event that was held today at City Hall. It was the peaceful demonstration that was expected. Thank you also to the motoring public for their patience in dealing with the slight traffic delays”.
While some thought that Idle No More was all about Attawapiskat Chief Spence and a hunger strike, the grassroots movement appears far larger in scope than first thought.
In Alberta, the heartland of Conservative support in Canada, Idle No More is potentially morphed into a Citizen’s Group.