THUNDER BAY – “Is this his way of helping? We won’t be silent anymore! Idle No More,” those are the words of Tricia Beauleau. The twenty-five year old Aboriginal woman is but one more voice previously unheard who is now speaking out over the actions of the federal Conservatives. The Idle No More movement is going to share their message from the steps of Thunder Bay City Hall today with a rally starting at noon.
Organizers of the Thunder Bay Round Dance Gathering share that the goal is to to bring people together and share information about the Bills being passed in Parliament. Fact sheets will be given out. Opening ceremonies begin with Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and Grandfather Sam Achneepineskum.
The organizers advise that “All flags from First Nations are invited. The All Nations Flag Unity Song will be sung with Nibisinii Water Rock Drum”.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association state, “In light of the Idle NO More movement and the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence, ONWA will be participating in the Idle NO More Rally to be held tomorrow, Saturday December 15th, at City Hall from 1 – 5:30pm. We invite everyone else to come out and lend their support as well.
Additionally, ONWA will be hosting a special Pipe Ceremony in support of Idle NO More and Chief Theresa Spence on Monday, December 17th from 11AM until 12PM.
The frustration over what First Nations see as unilateral legislation that will take away from their rights has sparked action from the grassroots to the leadership of Aboriginal groups.
In Ottawa, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit stood in support of Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence at a press conference held held on Friday. “We stand united with Chief Spence in her heroic efforts to protect Aboriginal and Treaty rights,” said Deputy Grand Chief Louttit. “Our people are frustrated with the federal government’s continued attack on Treaty and inherent rights and the lack of dialogue with our leaders by making unilateral decisions that affect our people, lands and resources. Sometimes drastic measures have to be done to be heard.”
In Thunder Bay on Friday, NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno said Chief Spence’s decision to go on a hunger strike is a protest against recent legislative changes that will directly impact the rights of First Nations. “First Nations across Canada are frustrated at how changes and plans are underway by the federal department of Indian Affairs and Canada without addressing the key components of the obligations of our Treaties.”
“There are 32 remote, fly-in communities across NAN territory that sit on a wealth of natural resources international mining companies, prospectors and the province and Canada want to access. Yet, our people are still living in third-world conditions,” said Deputy Grand Chief Louttit. “Therefore, our communities must take control over resource development, profit sharing, and the future of development in our homelands.
After meeting with Chief Spence, NAN and the Assembly of First Nation (AFN) agreed to work on developing a process of meaningful dialogue based on the commitments that Minister Duncan made with Chief Spence.”
The Idle No More movement is gaining momentum from Aboriginal groups from across the country. One newly created activist shared with NetNewsledger that “We all speak the same language now”.
On Friday The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) stated that the association “commends the widespread, peaceful activities of grassroots Indigenous people participating in the Idle No More movement. Beginning on December 10th this cross-Canada demonstration of Indigenous solidarity asserts the sovereignty and nationhood of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island”. The association reported that “The momentum continued Friday at a demonstration in Windsor, Ontario”.
The AIAI state, “While the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island are diverse in our cultures and histories we are united in our intolerance for the Canadian government’s violation of our original relationship of sharing, respect, and co-existence. The numerous federal Bills, including the C-45 omnibus bill, now tabled in the Canadian Parliament is an unprecedented legislative attack on the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and the health of our lands and waters. Citizens of our nations, in being Idle No More, are sending the message loud and clear: This must stop”. “ ‘To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’ ~ Nelson Mandela. The AIAI community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all who find truth in these words”.
The digital age where not only individuals but also associations are able to reach out rapidly to a growing audience, and the impact of Internet and Social Media are providing a solid means for Idle No More to get out their message.