Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Idle No More movement is being noticed across Canada.
The Star Phoenix had a major story this morning about its founders Sylvia McAdams and Sheelah McLean (pictured above) who, with Jessica Gordon and Nina Wilson, started the whole movement.
Through social media, rallies were organized last week in Canadian cities, and more are coming on Friday including at Canadian consultates in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In the Toronto Star, Tim Harper sums up all of the reasons why First Nations leaders are really angry at Stephen Harper and his government:
[the government's] determination to economically exploit resources over the objections of environmentalists and aboriginals who believe this regime is running roughshod over its ancestral lands. . . .There is a spiritual aspect to this movement.
movement leaders count 14 pieces of legislation — dealing with everything from education to water quality to financial accountability — that they believe are the laws of an adversary.. . .
Consultations with native representatives over education have broken down. The initiative is now largely a unilateral Ottawa move.
First Nations believe a bill forcing chiefs and bands to publicly release salaries and financial reports is a move meant to pit leaders against residents.
The omnibus bill amends the Navigable Waters Protection Act, a law dating to the days of Sir John A. Macdonald, meant to ensure development would not impede Canadians’ rights to freely pass through public waterways.
The government now has the right to approve projects on more than 160 lakes without consulting First Nations.
The Conservatives also amended the Indian Act, making it easier for aboriginal leaders to lease out land for economic development without consulting band residents and have proposed a bill that would give Ottawa more control over band elections.
There is ongoing frustration over the lack of an inquiry into the more than 600 aboriginal women who have been murdered or gone missing in this country over the past two decades and why 50 per cent of violent crimes against aboriginals go unprosecuted, twice the rate of the general population.
Even the program used to compile the data, Sister in Spirit, lost its funding under the Conservatives.
Friday's noon event in Saskatoon at the Vimy Memorial is billed as a day of "spiritual awakening" and will feature a community round dance, a water ceremony and several speakers. Organizers are expecting hundreds of people to participate.Central to the movement is the two-week hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation -- yes, the same reserve where awful housing conditions shocked all of Canada last year and which has proven to be a bellweather for the incompetent management and finger-pointing of the Harper Cons.
The spiritual aspect of the movement is just as important as the political message, Gordon said.
"We can't just focus on one thing," she said. "Friday is based at the spiritual level to assert our indigenous nationhood with everybody beating their drums as one."
Chief Spence wants something very simple -- a meeting with Stephen Harper.
Will the kitten whisperer step up and show some leadership here? Will the Governor-General?
Or are Harper and his PMO brain trust so small-minded that they will see this as just another political pissing contest which they can blithely ignore? Personally, I'm not optimistic.
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