London, Ontario - Over 1000 people have shutdown highway 401, the busiest highway in Canada opposing Harper government policies and standing up for their rights.

They halted traffic for 90 minutes on Canada’s busiest highway Wednesday, more than 1,000 protesters from area First Nations. They’re part of a grassroots movement — Idle No More — gaining momentum across Canada. Jennifer O’Brien explores the story behind the protest.

Q: What is Idle No More?

A: It’s a grassroots movement — fuelled by social media — to protest the lack of First Nations’ involvement in decisions made in Ottawa. Supporters say according to treaty rights enshrined in the constitution, aboriginal leaders must be consulted on decisions affecting Canada’s resources. Instead, Ottawa signs deals with foreign investors, including China this year, that directly impact the resources that should be shared by all who live on this land, natives say. The issue has been simmering for years, but the tipping point was this month’s quick passing of omnibus budget bill C-45 that contains many changes that directly affect First Nations communities, Idle No More organizers say.

Q: Some of the issues are decades old. Why is everybody so fired up now?

A: First Nations have a young population where the majority of the people are under 35, and those young people are more educated than the same demographic was a generation ago. Deep indigenous roots coupled with higher education has given the movement strength. Social media has helped exponentially.

Q: Who was behind London’s Idle No More rally.

A: Members of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation organized and planned the protest that included hundreds of school children, teens, families and elders from that community. Hundreds more turned out from other area First Nations. Most protesters were aboriginal, but there were also many non-aboriginals on the walk and at the rally.

Photos Via Flickr Mary Kosta

Q: What is specifically threatening to First Nations communities?

A: Idle No More organizers say Bill C 45 contains changes to the Indian Act — which they say is already discriminatory and racist. “The native people in this country are the only race of people in the world that have a specific piece of legislation that governs their lives,” said Ray Deleary, a senior policy analyst at Chippewas of the Thames. Bill C45 changes the way land is managed on reserves and takes thousands of rivers and lakes off a protected list.

Q: What do organizers hope to achieve?

A: First Nations leadership represented equally in government and lawmaking.

Photos Via Flickr Mary Kosta
VIDEO Idle No More Alberta - Tanya Kappo Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation

Responses to "Idle No More protest brings more than 1,000 to the street in London (Photos) "

  1. Anonymous says:

    I for one am glad to Native peoples standing up to big government. I hope in the future we see more Native people running for office and standing up for traditional ways so that maybe will have an eigth generation. Obvious todays goverment officals on both sides of the boarder just don't get it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Native for president!! Yea!! That's what needs to happen!!

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