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Idle No More continues

By: 
John Bell

February 6, 2013

Idle No More was always about more than Chief Theresa Spence’s fast. It has become the rallying banner for actions and discussions bringing together indigenous people and allies from across Turtle Island.
 
Six Cree youth and a guide from the James Bay community of Whapmagoostui have been walking to Ottawa under the INM banner, to raise awareness of the threat to their culture from environmental degradation. After 250 kilometres on snowshoe their numbers have grown to 26 and they are drawing international attention. Who knows how many walkers will storm Ottawa when they arrive some time in March.
 
In Attawapiskat, the Northern Ontario community that is home of Chief Spence, activists have blockaded a road leading to a nearby diamond mine owned by De Beers. The South African diamond giant will make billions from the mine, while the First Nation will be paid $30 million over 12 years. “There has been a lot of disgruntlement against employee terminations or descrimination issues, racism issues, even the fact that there are certain families that have traditional territories within the boundries or close to the site,” said community spokesperson Danny Metatawabin.
 
In Toronto, anti-nuclear activists joined with First Nations people to protest the presence of a General Electric-Hitachi nuclear processing plant in the heart of the city. They temporarily blockaded the CPR line near the factory to publicize its long hidden presence. Speakers from the Serpent River First Nation near Elliot Lake told how the uranium that GE says is not dangerous had contaminated local rivers and lakes.
 
In Victoria, a February 2 rally reminded everyone what sparked INM–the Tory omnibus budget bill that effectively dismantled environmental protection for waterways, the land and air.
 
Day of Action
January 28 was a Day of Action for Idle No More in over 30 Canadian communities. Round dances, drumming, rallies and meetings declared that INM would continue.
 
Activists in Toronto got the jump, joining the huge demonstration for democracy outside the Ontario Liberal convention on January 26. A strong indigenous presence began with a drumming circle, and joined an environmental contingent in the march.
 
The INM movement has struck a chord around the world, inspiring indigenous solidarity from Cochabamba to Cairo. The more the effects of the cuts to environmental protection are seen, the more support for INM will grow.

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