Demonstrators gather in Vancouver for Idle No More day of action

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      Drumming, singing and dancing demonstrators gathered outside the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada office in downtown Vancouver today (January 28) for a rally aimed at sending a message to the federal government as politicians returned to the House of Commons.

      The local Idle No More protest was part of a “global day of action” that included rallies in cities across the country as Parliament resumed following a six-week break.

      “It is the first day back for the members of Parliament in Ottawa, so we have taken it upon ourselves to welcome them back with thunderous marches, and furious uproar,” said Steven Kakinoosit, one of the organizers of the event.

      Among the issues at the centre of the protest were concerns about federal omnibus bill C-45, one of the pieces of legislation that initially sparked the grassroots Idle No More movement. Protesters say changes under the bill to laws including the Indian Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act will erode environmental protection and aboriginal rights.

      Rally organizer Dan Wallace vowed that Idle No More protests against the legislation, which received Royal Assent on December 14, will continue.

      “We’re not going to give up…we want to get rid of this bill,” he said in an interview. “I can be grateful and thankful for at least one thing that’s come of this, is that Harper has brought people together, and that’s the silver lining. So whether he likes it or not, he’s actually given us a reason to be stronger with each other.”

      Paul Faoro, vice-president of CUPE B.C., told demonstrators that Bill C-45 “should be rescinded” and put to debate.

      “Mr. Harper, it’s about more than just one meeting—it is about having a series of conversations…in a respectful, open debate,” he said, referring to the meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that took place on January 11.

      Jerilynn Webster noted the movement has not subsisted following the end of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, which many Idle No More protestors had demonstrated their support for.

      “It may feel like the Idle No More movement has slowed down because the hunger strike has lessened, but I think J28 is really going to show the world that we’re still here,” she told the Straight. “We’re still here and we’re going to continue to come together and gather and march in the street and rallies, and have teach-ins and bring the message, to not only our communities but all across Canada.”

      Spence’s hunger strike and Idle No More actions across the country also drew attention to issues including poverty in aboriginal communities. 

      “We’re sending a message to the Conservative government: help us to fix the problems that are in our communities,” Kakinoosit told a crowd of over 200 people assembled at the corner of Thurlow and Melville streets.

      “We know we have longstanding issues in our communities, and we want to deal with these issues in a good way. But if you do not do it soon, I will guarantee this: it’s going to be a long, hot summer.”

      Idle No More rallies were also held today in cities including Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Halifax.


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      Jim Sullivan

      Jan 28, 2013 at 8:31pm

      If the natives spent even 20% of the spare protest time FIXING UP the houses and schools on their reserves they would be much better off.
      Many volunteers help Habitat for Humanity building homes. All natives do is beat drums and yell out. Get something done on the reserves. Attawapiskat is a mess with a broken up school. REBUILD IT. Do something positive. You will then earn everybodys respect.


      Jan 28, 2013 at 8:31pm

      The next generation is moving this movement forward they will make change happen with all the new technology.

      They will make society think differently.

      All the best and do not give up

      B. Christie-Star/S. J. David

      Jan 28, 2013 at 10:48pm

      Kudos to all involved in the Idle-No-More Movement, young and seasoned folks. So good to hear the strong, confident, and determined voices. This is good! Keep it going. As it is said: We teach people how to treat us! Demand to be treated with respect and dignity.

      Save Vancouver

      Jan 28, 2013 at 11:34pm

      There's a whole heap of irony in a crowd of people protesting in the middle of a workday under the name "Idle No More".

      Martin Dunphy

      Jan 29, 2013 at 12:13am

      Save Vancouver

      How is this ironic? Taking the time to get out, travel, and demonstrate is the opposite of "idle". The crowd contained some students, homemakers, seniors, self-employed who were able to take some time off, and, yes, probably some unemployed people. Check the national jobless stats. But more to the point: have you ever taken time out of your busy day to do one worthwhile thing that didn't involve making money?

      Your comment would seem to indicate "no".
      Among other things.


      Jan 29, 2013 at 11:41am

      What this movement lacks is vision. It has energy, it has protest, it has a villain.

      But what's the prize - when we look forward one hundred years, what do aboriginal people see themselves doing?

      1. Living on remote reserves subsisting on traditional game/gathering techniques, supplemented by federal stipends given to their chiefs, living on properties they cannot own under the Indian Act.

      2. Fully integrated into Canadian society, whatever that will be in a hundred years, the Indian Act abolished and not replaced by successor legislation.

      3. Something else.

      What do you want?

      Believe me, I want to support aboriginal people, not just because it is the decent thing to do but because my family is Metis.

      But I will never support something if I have no idea what it is that I am supposed to be supporting.


      Jan 29, 2013 at 11:23pm

      I had to laugh when I saw Jim Sullivan's comment. He's only worried about what the schools and houses look like? Gosh, man, give your head a shake. We care about the people! Not your superficial exterior crap of what the buildings look like.

      Otis Bell

      Feb 4, 2013 at 5:09pm

      Idle no more is standing up for the waters that have been sold away in bill C-45, by folks that have always been wise enough to know that these waters are our life and should never be disrespected! And with that, all other issues of disrespect of treaties and native lands that end up funding the governments that subsidize every settler more than twice as much as any native person gets from the government. Imagine what settle Canadians would do if half of the amount the government spent subsidizing their cities went instead to native communities, and they were then told to pick up their garbage, clean up their streets and repair their buildings and houses. Because if the tables were turned that would be the case. We settlers have always been living off the backs of native people and native lands, that are continually stolen from. I stand with Idle No More because I'm sick of this wasteful hypocrisy and I won't see our children growing into a world with no good water or land, and such a disgrace of injustice to the good people that have been here since creation.