If you were driving down O’Connell Drive around noon on Friday it was hard to miss a peaceful demonstration taking place at Margaret Bowater Park. The small protest was in support of the Idle No More movement that has been sweeping the country with a very vocal backing, but little to no media coverage or government acknowledgement until very recently.
If you’ve heard about the movement lately, you’ve likely heard about Theresa Spence, Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Chief Spence has been on a hunger strike since December 11 (and is still on a hunger strike as of publication), asking for an audience with Prime Minister Harper to discuss Bill C-45. C-45 covers a lot of issues, but aboriginals communities, First Nations, and their supporters across the country are concerned about changes that have been made to the Indian Act as well as changes made to designated protected bodies of water without having consulted any First Nations peoples.
Despite huge gatherings, this weekend the Idle No More movement only made national headlines headlines by blocking Via Rail tracks between Toronto and Montreal.
From what I see, Idle No More is the movement of a people who feel that their rights and voices have been marginalized and ignored by a government for too long, and they are looking to be heard on this and any future pieces of legislation concerning their people.
But not everyone agrees, naturally. Pundits and critics are saying the movement is vague and pointless, and that Chief Spence is blackmailing the Prime Minister. Such an opinion can be found here, in an article written by Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe And Mail. I also came across this piece by Kathryn Blaze Carlson of the National Post, saying that the changes in Bill C-45 are actually some suggested by Aboriginal leaders who have had problems attempting to sell land that they were willing to part with.
What I saw Friday, though, was a group of people concerned for the future of Canada’s lands.
They lit sweet-grass, there was some singing of traditional songs and prayers for Chief Spence as well as the Canadian Government, asking that they see some reason and take a simple meeting from a starving woman.
The gathering wasn’t huge, but I got the feeling that there were many more locally who shared their sentiments but couldn’t make it. After all, the issue of Canada’s lands and natural beauty is one that concerns everyone in our country.
I’d love if you developed your own opinions on the matter, so I pulled together a few helpful links…
Check out the Bill itself here.
Check out IdleNoMore’s actual site here.
And also read up on Canada’s treaties, here.
(Ed. Note: Some more helpful Q&A about Idle No More from CBC right here.)
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