Cynics have been too quick to write the obituary for Idle No More. The movement to advance First Nations sovereignty, that dominated national headlines last winter, has not disappeared–it has gone local to debate, organize and get active.
In August 60, First Nations activists and allies met to discuss “Building Unity to Action”. Now there is a national call-out for local actions to take place on October 7. Idle No More’s Call for Change is reprinted below.
First Nations people have long been on the front lines to stop the reckless exploitation of the land and waters, especially projects connected to the Tar Sands. This has made them the target of Stephen Harper’s omnibus legislation, ramming through laws that weaken environmental reviews of corporate development.
Idle No More has inspired protests and actions around the world. In September Saami people in Sweden’s north organized a blockade to oppose Swedish and British mining corporations, in defence of their land and water. Among other things, they carried the Idle No More banner.
The problem goes beyond Harper. Indigenous people everywhere are challenging the corporate agenda that covets the raw materials growing on or buried under their lands. In New Brunswick, Mi’kmag activists are at the centre of opposition to plans to use fracking to extract gas. This takes the prize for the most grossly under-reported national story of the summer. In Toronto, people from the Grassy Narrows first Nation of Northern Ontario took their protest to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s front door. Their land and water has been poisoned by deadly mercury, left behind by logging operations. On the Thunderchild First Nation near North Battleford, Saskatchewan Idle No More protesters set up a camp to block oil drilling plans. They opposed corporate plans and the elected band chief who agreed to the drilling without consulting the community. Eldon Okanee, one of the band members told the CBC: “It's money at the expense of our values, customs, traditions, ceremonies, on our ceremonial lands. No. There's gotta be a point where you can't cross, and I think they've crossed it.”
Dozens of other local actions have been taking place all along. October 7 will be a day of protest to pull these many threads of resistance together.
Idle No More’s Call for Change
Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, a network of Indigenous communities in land struggle, have joined together to issue this common call for escalating action. Our message is clear and in accordance with the principles of coexistence and mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. We call for Canada, the provinces and the territories to:
· Repeal provisions of Bill C-45 (including changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act, which infringe on environmental protections, Aboriginal and Treaty rights) and abandon all pending legislation which does the same.
· Deepen democracy in Canada through practices such as proportional representation and consultation on all legislation concerning collective rights and environmental protections, and include legislation which restricts corporate interests.
· In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ principle of free, prior, and informed consent, respect the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to development on their territory.
· Cease its policy of extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and recognize and affirm Aboriginal Title and Rights, as set out in section 35 of Canada’s constitution, and recommended by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
· Honour the spirit and intent of the historic Treaties. Officially repudiate the racist Doctrine of Discovery and the Doctrine of Terra Nullius, and abandon their use to justify the seizure of Indigenous Nations lands and wealth.
· Actively resist violence against women and hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and involve Indigenous women in the design, decision-making, process and implementation of this inquiry, as a step toward initiating a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan.
To read more on INM visit http://www.idlenomore.ca/