Monday, January 7, 2013

Idle No More

An indigenous rights and environmental justice movement called Idle No More sweeps Canada, also crossing the border this past weekend with indigenous solidarity actions on both sides of U.S.-Canadian crossings, and actions as far flung as New Zealand, Texas, and Hawaii.  In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrations took place at Peace Arch monument, the major west coast border crossing between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, B.C.  The movement has already seen numerous "flash mob" scenes at shopping malls throughout Canada and, increasingly, the U.S.

Meanwhile, in a small teppee on Victoria Island, Ottawa, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence remains on a hunger strike since before Christmas, and in an effort to have a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the government's relations with First Nations and treaties.  Mr. Harper, to date, has been unresponsive, in essence, though he will reportedly meet with a First Nations delegation on Friday, January 11th.

Chief Spence's hunger strike initially coincided with opposition to new legislation and a CN rail blockade in southwestern Ontario where trains run illegally through Aamjiwnaang Reserve, as the company has not obtained a permit in order to cross First Nations property on the way to chemical and refinery plants.  The 13 day blockade disrupted millions of dollars in revenue, coming to an end January 3rd, following a contempt of court order issued against the protesters.

Below, a Real News Network video speaking with Chief Spence about a week ago, and looking at local community issues sparking the blockade which, in turn, has ignited the Idle No More international movement.

As mentioned, one popular use of protest that has spread since the initial blockade and beginning of Chief Spence's hunger strike includes the appearance of "flash mobs" in shopping malls throughout Canada, and now, in the U.S. too.  Some flash mob scenes have been quite large, for example, in the major Canadian urban centers, while numerous others have appeared, including more remote locations.

Below, an example of a flash mob in the far reaches of Bemidji, Minnesota on December 26th.  According to wiki, Bemidjii is the hub of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, White Earth Indian Reservation and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.  Some people credit the name of the town to Chief Bemidji, an Ojibwe or Anishinaabe chief.


Also, a Tar Sands solidarity dance viewable here; news analysis here with Pamela Palmater, chair in indigenous governance at Ryerson University and Idle No More spokesperson.  Ms. Palmater describes some of the decried legislation and also discusses the movement's relationship to the Tar Sands Blockade, as well as the Harper government response to Chief Spence's hunger strike.

Visit the Idle No More website here.

Photo credit/courtesy of Idle No More/"Idle No More began on November 10, 2012 at Stations 20 West, Saskatoon, SK. The early stages of the movement consisted of 5 rallies before our National Day of Action on December 10th." 

Editor's Update 1/8/2013. Idle No More is announcing a Global Day of Action for Friday, January 11, 2013, the same day Stephen Harper is scheduled to meet with the First Nations delegation.  Further information at the Facebook page here.

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