THUNDER BAY – It was a day where across Canada and across Thunder Bay Idle No More stepped the action. At the Teach In held at the Spirit Garden in Thunder Bay, as the event started there were two Bald Eagles who flew overhead.
“You are our leaders right now at this time in history, you are the change we’ve been waiting for…We believe in our hearts that this is the moment,” stated Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.
While there are still many who think that the entire Idle No More movement is only a ‘First Nations issue’ the support and the scope of the movement is growing a lot. In Thunder Bay, Robert Animikii Horton said, “Gichi Miigwech to The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Canadian Auto Workers Union for showing support for Chief Theresa Spence, the vision of Idle No More, and for supporting the Unity Rally to Support Our Lands, Resources, and Treaties Today. It’s a historic time and its incredible we face it unified.
“Duncan Campbell Scott, in his aim to enact “the Final Solution to the Indian Problem in Canada” – failed. Every Residential School Administrator and Priest who sought to realize this Final Solution – failed,” continued Horton. “The authors of the 1969 White Paper, presented by Minister of Indian Affairs (and later Prime Minister) Jean Chrétien for the abolishment of our rights and forced assimilation – failed. To Stephen Harper and John Duncan- you will fail, as well”.
“The letter in support of Theresa Spence and Idle No More, written by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers National President Denis Lemelin, was read aloud at the lakefront marina today at the Spirit Gardens in Thunder Bay after two eagles circled up above following ceremony and the drum,” added Horton.
The Thunder Bay Teach In was designed to help share the reasons behind the rally. Organizers state, “The Harper Government of Canada is currently putting through eight bills that violate treaties and are meant to destroy and assimilate First Nations in the same way that the 1969 White Paper was meant to.
“The 1969 White Paper aimed to eliminate the Indian Act; Get rid of Treaty Right; Do away with Reserves lands; and assimilate”.
Joyce Hunter stated, “I could barely contain my pride as I gave a shout out to Moose Cree, Wapakeka, Fort Albany, and my reserve, Weenudk First Nation, for holding Idle No More teach-ins/rallies with their community members”.
Thoughts in Thunder Bay, and across Canada were on Chief Theresa Spence, the Attawapiskat Chief who has been on a hunger strike for the past 11 days. Chief Spence has vowed to die for her people rather than give in to the directions of the Canadian Government. Her efforts were gaining support in Thunder Bay as people cheered on the fast and hoped that the Prime Minister would step up and meet with her and work toward a solution.
The Idle No More movement is likely something the federal government expects will peter out over the holiday season. Based on the growing support in Thunder Bay and across Canada it is more likely that, like organizers of Idle No More are suggesting in Thunder Bay that a ‘Sleeping Giant’ has awoke.