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After Completely Ignoring Them, Harper Agrees to Meet with First Nations Activists

After Completely Ignoring Them, Harper Agrees to Meet with First Nations Activists

Powered by passionate members of Canada’s First Nations, Idle No More is a movement currently gathering speed across Canada. The grassroots effort formed in response to the recent and troubling anti-environmental policies being championed by Prime Minister Harper in Canada’s government, and it may already be experiencing success.

The rights and desires of Canada’s indigenous peoples have been a constant point of controversy throughout the country’s history. Although there’s no reversing the official colonization of the country, Idle No More activists claim that the theft of their land continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. On December 10th, 2012, Canada’s First Nations joined together in solidarity to protest this ongoing violation of their sovereignty and the Planet.

From the group’s website:

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. We encourage youth to become engaged in this movement as you are the leaders of our future. There have always been individuals and groups who have been working towards these goals – Idle No More seeks to create solidarity and further support these goals. We recognize that there may be backlash, and encourage people to stay strong and united in spirit.

Although Idle No More is focused on widespread resistance, its formation was inspired by the recent passing of Omnibus bill C-45, which among other things, weakens Canada’s Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Indian Act. These changes make it easier to redesignate native reserve lands and strip environmental protection from thousands of lakes and rivers.

The fact that such irresponsible, industry-serving legislation was passed by those charged with acting in the best interests of all Canadians is troubling enough. But coupled with the fact that the government has completely omitted native groups out of talks/legislation that will directly affect their water and land, is beyond offensive.

In the past few weeks, protests, marches, and hunger strikes associated with Idle No More have captured headlines around the world. The pressure already seems to have had an impact on Prime Minister Harper. On January 4th, Harper announced that he would participate in a working meeting with a delegation of First Nations leaders coordinated by the Assembly of First Nations on January 11, 2013. According to Harper’s statement, the working meeting will focus on two areas flowing from the Gathering: the treaty relationship and aboriginal rights and economic development.

Despite this announcement, Idle No More has no plans of disbanding, even if the meeting goes well. According to the official website, “Idle No More activities will not stop until we reach our two goals: Indigenous sovereignty (Nation to Nation relationship) and protection of the land and water (Social and Environmental Sustainability). Once we reach these goals, we will continue to work to protect them. In essence, Idle No More is here to stay.”

 

Related Reading:

Harper Government’s War On Environmentalists

Harper’s Budget Rewards Corporations, Robs CBC

Harper Government Doesn’t Care About Sustainability

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Image via Idle No More/Aaron Paquette

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155 comments

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4:30PM PDT on May 2, 2013

I would really hope and pray for a just and objective solution to this widespread and tragic issue, but without attacking our white brothers and sisters or our governments. Nobody in the current generation started this ball rolling down the mountain, so blaming and shaming will hardly stop the landslide or slow it. Prejudice will only give way to even-minded education and I see it as tending a helping hand to those who are deeply mired in their own negative racism. Just a thought, based on Baha'i principles of No Prejudice of Any Kind (yeah, really!), Education to the max for all those who need/want it, and global Justice that will bless all of us with Peace. Love to all, and hope you will sign this cause! Winona-Anowara

4:24PM PDT on May 2, 2013

Dear Sandra, Your comment leaves me confused. You don't want to support Idle No More because...because what? We are a spoiled child? Please clarify, as I would respectfully and sincerely like to understand what you are trying to say. Thanks.

5:01PM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

noted

11:05PM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

Wow! Imagine he is going to finally get off his throne and meet with the native people. I'm with the natives who have been horribly treated since we white people touched this land and still not doing a heck of a lot better even in the 21st century.

9:49AM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

First Harper insults the 1st Nations by ignoring them in favour of greeting 2 pandas from China and watch-this meeting will be one filled platitudes and placations.

Canada's real issues that apply to all peoples is corruption at the top (governments including many leaders amongst the Tribes , corporations and, and, and... We also have (worst is in BC) grinding poverty with its horrendous consequences and seemingly indifference of the many politicians for their electorite. Greed and Power!!!!

5:36PM PST on Jan 26, 2013

I do not stand with Idle No More and have no respect for Chief Spense whatsoever. It is unfortunate that it is difficult to oppose C-45 without supporting Idle No More and the native protest. I think that this is just another way to hold the country hostage to a spoiled child's demands and people forget just who it is that has to pay for everything. We will never be equal until we are equal - all Canadians in Canada!

3:02PM PST on Jan 23, 2013

The uprising must continue until the wholesale decimation of the environment comes to a grinding halt.

5:36PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Thank you Beth, for Sharing this!

7:50AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

I stand along with Idle No More. Get Harper and his cronies out of government!

7:37AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

Rocio M Sí, somos los guardianes de la Tierra y debe asegurarse de que los gobiernos están trabajando para los pueblos no de las corporaciones codiciosas.

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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