I am in full support of Idle No More and Chief Theresa Spence’s now perilous hunger strike in a tipi across from Canada’s Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Chief of the beleaguered town on Attawapiskat in Ontario, where inadequate housing has led to a level of misery that attracted even UN censure, Spence is engaged in a desperate gambit to force PM Harper to speak with her.
Idle No More, a nation-wide First Nations protest against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s erosion of native sovereignty, consultation and environmental regulation is fast gaining strength and allies in Canada and abroad. In addition to Chief Spence’s protest over Attawapiskat and government interference there, the Prime Minister’s omnibus budget bill C-45, which contained a bludgeon obliterating all manner of environmental regulation and local controls, has not surprisingly been met with First Nations protest. And it is only the latest in a string of bills eroding rights; Bill C-54 was just as disastrous to environmental protection and First Nations rights and sovereignty. It destroyed the Fisheries Act and Environmental Assessment among other law, close to 70 in all, with no debate or discussion. These things combined have precipitated a movement that Stephen Harper will have great difficulty putting down, and whose magnitude he probably hasn’t even clocked yet.
I have never witnessed anything like this in Canada in my lifetime. The level of First Nations unanimity in BC even before Idle No More, precipitated by and in opposition to oil tanker traffic and/or pipelines in BC, and in particular to the high-handed actions of the federal government and its corporate allies in Enbridge, were stunning enough. But Idle No More represents a sea change in Canada. It is very unlikely that it can be stopped, it will undoubtedly do serious damage to the Stephen Harper/Conservative Party of Canada government, and it’s almost certain to alter the political landscape not to mention the way in which this country views itself.
Must reads (this list will be periodically updated):
Follow Chief Theresa Spence on Twitter.
Pamela Palmater: Why we are Idle No More
First Nations UBC professor Glen Coulthard: Idle No More in Historical Context
Dulce et Decorum: The Indian Act in Plain English
Rabble (Am Johal): Justice at stake: Chief Theresa Spence passes Day 15 of hunger strike
Al Jazeera: First Nations #IdleNoMore on day of action
Guardian: Canada’s First Nations protest heralds a new alliance – The grassroots IdleNoMore movement of aboriginal people offers a more sustainable future for all Canadians
Marc Garneau, former Canadian scientist and astronaut, Member of Parliament: An open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Let our words not be empty
Idle No More blog
Lastly, see this.