I know intimately the importance of standing in one's territory, freely practicing our ceremonies at our sacred places, harvesting our foods, and telling our children their stories of creation in the exact spot creation happened and is happening. I know that living as Anishinaabe is one of the most important things we can do, on reserve, off reserve, in the middle of the bush or in the middle of the city. So I know that the reclamation of PKOLS is an extraordinarily important act for the SȾÁUTW, Songhees and the WSÁNEĆ because it physically connects them to a powerful place, alive with story, and breathing with history.
From the get go, commentators have cautioned that Indigenous peoples would be wise to play their cards right lest they squander what little patience and benevolence the Canadian public has left for Indigenous issues. Those who hold this view seem curiously unaware of how movements such as Idle No More work. Like the Civil Rights movement, these are not public relations battles; they are Constitutional struggles. And so we can expect general bewilderment and frustration from the public as Idle No More pushes through in 2013.
These Idle No More drums are not just for us: they beat for you because the legislation we are protesting does not just harm us -- it hurts you and your children and your grandchildren. I cannot tell you what path to follow. I cannot tell you to join our protest. But I can tell you the story of what we know of these legislative changes and how they will forever change our relationship with the land and water. The circle of those dances is not complete until you join us. I know that it is up to you to know your own journey. I know, however, that many of you have hearts open to hear this call.
#Ottawapiskat has been trending on Twitter with a fervour few other hashtags have generated. Aaron Paquette, a First Nations artist from Edmonton, says he started the hashtag to raise questions about the double standards that First Nations people often face in the media.
Artists have become a vibrant part of Idle No More, illustrating the movement in bold colours as it sweeps across Canada
To suggest Harper has consulted with First Nations leaders because of the meeting on Friday is simply ridiculous. First Nations know the realities of what they are facing and the Conservatives' dishonest talking points, aimed at convincing average Canadians they are making progress, are further undermining what little credibility they have with Canada's indigenous population.
Today's "National Day of Action" gives Chief Theresa Spence another opportunity to declare a victory over holding the government to account and another opportunity to call off her "hunger" strike. By not doing so she risks further polarizing and dividing the movement and First Nations leadership. The government is left with few options. It must still negotiate with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and National Chief Shawn Atleo, as it has to be seen to be engaged and working to make change possible, sooner rather than later.
The #IdleNoMore Movement is not a new movement. Instead, it is the latest incarnation of the sustained Indigenous resistance to the rape, pillage and exploitation of this continent and its women that has existed since 1492. For those transfixed on race, you're missing the point. Please consider this a fairly exhaustive explanation of the #IdleNoMore movement, what it is not and what it is.
The latest protest action by Alberta First Nations saw the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation temporarily blockade Hwy. 43 Friday
What makes this sideshow all the more embarrassing is that there's been a complete breakdown in the Chief's relationship with the one independent agency whose power actually does matter -- the press. The indifferent contempt in which she has so consistently held the press is beginning to return in kind. You can almost hear her 15 minutes ticking away. To put it bluntly, you can't just do this.
We must offer support by sharing First Nations perspectives, and remembering that some truths are simple: we have to share this land together in a fair way that reflects a real understanding of its history. This Friday, a global day of action provides an opportunity for us all to stand together.
If the million or so aboriginal Canadians together realized their joint power, they could change Canada into a totally different society. And there are indications that a strategy is there. Idle No More need not be a confrontational force -- it can be the catalyst to bring about real justice and fairness for all the nations of Canada.
My racism at the age of 10, although not acceptable, was somewhat understandable. But my daughter's? Why aren't today's youth more knowledgeable than I was? The expectation would be that after a thorough history lesson, our children should be horrified by the treatment of the aboriginal community, not rationalizing it.
What we have here is a woman who bemoans the impoverished nature of her reserve while she is partly to blame for it; a woman who has the ability to make things better, but won't because not everyone has RSVP'd to her invitation. What was once a justified pursuit to better the pitiful lives of the disenfranchised in First Nations communities has become a circus in which there is no possibility of dialogue unless every single demand is met. Spence is not a symbol to be admired. She is but one of the myriad reasons why First Nation communities exist in the sad way that they do, and it's time for her to go.
By Harper agreeing to meet Spence, the first step has been taken. Whatever the outcome, the movement will not fade away. By seizing the moment, the AFN and the government have been handed an opportunity where they can make common cause to affect positive change for First Nations communities. It is in everyone's best interest that they succeed.
Obviously it's a bit tricky to predict the future (thanks for nothing, Mayans), but man, with such stellar media forecasting, it's like we barely even need to live through 2013 at all! Which is good, cause the year sounds pretty sucky.
As we enter the new year, it is time for Chief Spence and Prime Minister Harper to pause and reflect about their on-going standoff. Both sides need to feel that they have won and both sides need to find a way to declare victory. Only then can the two sides proceed to the next step which should be fresh dialogue and agreed to solutions for key First Nations issues.
Recently, I heard a Grade 6 student explain that he and his friends had walked out of school to protest against a government measure that they believed had resulted in their teachers' rights being taken away. The principal was not impressed. I think we should be very impressed. What are our children in Canada seeing in the streets of our cities and towns? Idle No More, Occupy, protests in Ontario and Quebec by teachers and students -- and remember the G-20 protests in Toronto in 2010? While some of us looked the other way, the children are still watching.
What are the specific demands of the #IdleNoMore movement? Chief Spence has said that her strike is ultimately about "respect." What specifics are the Idle No More movement looking to change? Repeal of Bill C-45? Removal of the Indian Act? Platitudes about "respect" require detail unless you are Aretha Franklin. Conditions for Aboriginals in our country must improve and the status quo is unacceptable. But #IdleNoMore has a temporary momentum, and unless it answers three basic questions it has a very real expiry date.
You've been following #IdleNoMore, right? Basically, they're another one of those virulent First Nations protest movements that tend to pop up in this country whenever aboriginal-Canadians have reason to be outraged with their lot in life (i.e.: constantly). But this one has a hashtag!