Under the banner of Idle No More -- a campaign seeking to protect native treaty rights and resources against new federal legislation -- local indigenous activists and their supporters joined protesters across the country last week to mobilize against the recently passed Bill C-45.

 Far from a one-time event, organizers are determined to keep the issue in the public consciousness by continuing their protests until they see action from Parliament.

They are currently gathering signatures for a petition demanding that the government set aside the bill until it has provided due consultation with First Nations who have provided their informed consent.

“The entire nation is keeping the home fires burning, basically,” local Idle No More supporter Gabrielle Lee said.

“Everybody’s standing in solidarity in a continuous fashion. Everybody is focused. First Nations people who are aware are praying, they’re gathering, they’re organizing … they’re trying to educate … they’re trying to get people excited about it and impact them and get them informed and honest.”

Another Idle No More protest is scheduled in Prince Albert for Friday, Dec. 21. While locations may change depending on turnout and building capacity, the current plan is for supporters to meet up again at the Indian M├ętis Friendship Centre of Prince Albert.

An info session is expected to last from noon until 1 p.m., and a solidarity rally will take place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Photos Via Facebook Doug Thomas

Idle No More supporters have expressed particularly vehement opposition to Bill C-45 because they hold that it violates treaty rights governing native land and resources, as well as the stipulation that First Nations must provide free, prior and informed consent to such legislation.
Negative environmental consequences affecting the health and well-being of native communities are their biggest concern. Lee asked readers to imagine what life would be like if they couldn’t wash their children in the bathtub or drink tap water due to contamination from mining activity.

“For some far north communities this is already a reality, so it shouldn’t be that hard to imagine,” she said. “Mining companies with loosened standards and new government policies that fast track the environmental assessment process for natural resource development projects can now take advantage of the now unprotected waterways, potentially contaminating the system.

“That’s what Bill C-45 is allowing them to do. This could mean our waterways will be contaminated for hundreds of years. At best, this would mean we would have to move from our homes to a different area where clean water would be more accessible.”

But Idle No More sees plenty of other threats on the horizon other than C-45, now set to become the law of the land after the Senate passed it on Friday.

Another major concern is the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project seeking to channel oil from Alberta through Saskatchewan to the Gulf of Mexico.

Idle No More supporter and local organizer Jasmine Dreaver pointed to skyrocketing cancer rates in native communities living downstream from the tar sands.

“People right now are dying in Fort Chipewyan because of this, and it’s not even in the paper,” she said as tears welled in her eyes.

She added: “Their drinking water is toxic and children are getting cancer. People as young as 30 are dying from cancer and they’re calling it a ‘strange disease,’ like a mysterious disease. OK, Stephen Harper shuts down XL Foods because a couple people get sick from E. coli, and he doesn’t … shut down this pipeline and how many people are dying?”

For the moment, Bill C-45 is the main target. Despite being passed by Parliament, activists hold out hope that the legislature will listen to their concerns and shelve the law until it has carried out proper discussion with native leaders.

Failing that, they hope to take their concerns to the United Nations. Arguing that the legislation is a violation of treaty rights between sovereign nations, Lee referenced Article 19 in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which reads: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

Although Idle No More is a movement started by Aboriginal activists, Lee emphasized that the environmental damage resulting from the legislation affects all Canadians.

“Everyone should be worried about the decrease in environmental protections of water, because it will affect everyone,” she said. “All people will be affected by the continued damage to the land and water, and we welcome indigenous and non-indigenous allies to join in creating healthy sustainable communities.

“Our future depends on the preservation of the treaty land and resources and the application of free, prior and informed consent.”

All people will be affected by the continued damage to the land and water, and we welcome indigenous and non-indigenous allies to join in creating healthy sustainable communities. - Gabrielle Lee

Photos Via Facebook Doug Thomas

Responses to "Idle No More: First Nations activist movement grows across Canada (Photos)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    See you at the Rally!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Harper speaks with forked tongue. How could one person pretend to be God, all he will do is destroy all of Canada for the almighty buck. Shame on you Stephen Harper.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a white man I applaud the native community for your fight and will stand beside you to stop this injustice! Keep up the good fight!

  4. Anonymous says:

    While the enterprising explorers of Spain and Portugal were quick to enslave the indigenous peoples they met in Africa and the New World,[18] some popes spoke out against the practice. In 1435, Pope Eugene IV had issued an attack on slavery in his papal bull Sicut Dudum, which included the excommunication of all those who engaged in the slave trade. However, a form of indentured servitude was allowed, being similar to a peasant's duty to his liege lord in Europe.

    In the wake of Columbus' landing in the New World, Pope Alexander was asked by the Spanish monarchy to confirm their ownership of these newly found lands.[19] The bulls issued by Pope Alexander VI : "Eximiae devotionis" (3 May 1493), "Inter Caetera" (4 May 1493) and "Dudum Siquidem" (23 September 1493), granted similar rights to Spain with respect to the newly discovered lands in the Americas as Pope Nicholas V had previously conferred with the bulls "Romanus Pontifex" and "Dum Diversas".[20] Morales Padron (1979) concludes that these bulls gave power to enslave the natives.[21] Minnich (2005) asserts that this "slave trade" was permitted to facilitate conversions to Christianity.[22] Other historians and Vatican scholars strongly disagree with these accusations and assert that Pope Alexander VI never gave his approval to the practice of slavery.[23] Other later popes, such as Pope Benedict XIV inImmensa Pastorium (1741), and Pope Gregory XVI in his letter In Supremo Apostolatus (1839), continued to condemn slavery.

    Thornberry (2002) asserts that "Inter Caetera" was applied in the "Requerimiento" which was read to American Indians (who could not understand the colonizers' language) before hostilities against them began. They were given the option to accept the authority of the Pope and Spanish crown or face being attacked and subjugated.[24] In 1993, the Indigenous Law Institute called on Pope John Paul II to revoke "Inter Caetera" and to make reparation for "this unreasonable historical grief". This was followed by a similar appeal in 1994 by the Parliament of World Religions.[25]

  5. Anonymous says:

    Now is the time for all nations to join together, Native, Black, White and Asian...we the common people have no rights ... my family has been relocated twice in the bar by force and I am a city dweller!

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Anonymous says:

    The whiteman has been trying to get rid of the indian since the 1800's. first they attack our religion by banning our ceremonies and throwing our medicine men in prison, then they snatch the children and put in residential schools and foster homes, then the white paper, the meech lake accord, the charlotte town accord, now Bill C 45...what next...

  8. Anonymous says:

    Spirit of the medicine man his been awaken

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