With a new year upon us, we face a new challenge; and for the First Nation Peoples of the America’s and Canada, it is all too familiar. Stephen Harper, of the Canadian parliament government is currently in the process of passing a bill that will directly affect current treaty agreements under the Indian Act. Proposed Bill C45 will significantly decrease tribal leader and community control over decisions related to the land and water use on Indian Reserve lands. This means the tribal peoples of Canada will have little to no control over how corporations make use of untapped natural resources, specifically on indigenous territory protected under Sovereignty treaties. The Harper government has refused comment or otherwise concern on the matter.
Four tribal women from Saskatchewan started a movement back in November in hopes to convince Harper and the Canadian government to reconsider this extreme decision. The movement became Idle No More and has gained global attention thanks to its peaceful protest demonstrations. Protests throughout Canada, the U.S. and several other countries including Australia, have gained even more support for the cause.
Here in Denver at the Cherry Creek Mall, Dec. 29, 2012, Native and Non-Native supporters gathered for a “Flash-Mob Round Dance” accompanied by drummers and dancers. More than 300 people came out for the event. On Dec. 31, 2012, the Denver Indian community gathered again outside of the Canadian Consulate on the Sixteen Street Mall, holding another peaceful demonstration. Afterwards, members entered the Consulate office to deliver a letter for the Prime Minister of Canada, requesting their response to this matter. Denver will be holding another protest at the Flatirons Mall in Broomfield at 5:00 p.m. MST.
Beyond these peaceful protests, Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Nation has surrendered her life for the cause, undergoing a fast since Dec. 11, 2012. She has requested meetings with the Queen and Parliament to address the issue and will not forgo her fast until they agree to meet with her and other First Nation leaders. A simple request from a humble chief has gone unacknowledged for 20 days now. Chief Spence has said that she will die for her people.
It is up to you now to help, not only the indigenous people of Canada, but for the land and water that we all share. This bill is a direct attack on environmental protections, Indigenous rights, and human lives. You can join the Idle No More efforts by holding and participating in demonstrations in your area, sending letters to the Canadian Parliament demanding this injustice be stopped, and simply by spreading the word.
Find out more:
Get Involved: Idle No More
Sign the Petition AGAINST Bill C 45 at Change.org