Hundreds attend peaceful 'Idle No More' protest
Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:29PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:15AM MST
Hundreds of First Nations activists and their supporters took part in a peaceful demonstration Tuesday night, voicing their opposition against the federal government’s omnibus budget bill.
The flash mob and round dance at West Edmonton Mall was part of the local Idle No More movement, and is the latest in a number of demonstrations planned locally and across Canada.
Protesters believe the rights of First Nations are being threatened by the Harper government’s budget Bill C-45, which changes land use and resource policies.
The group is also upset over the lack of consultation between the federal government and First Nations people.
“There’s a big assault happening right now with our First Nations people with this Bill C-45 and that’s what we’re doing here, we’re addressing that, we’re addressing these concerns that we have,” said Conway Kootenay, one of the organizers for Edmonton Idle No More.
“It’s a movement, it’s a movement of solidarity, it’s a movement for nationhood and it’s a movement to address and protect our treaty rights as First Nations people.”
Kootenay estimates 600 people took part in Tuesday night’s demonstration.
Idle No More rallies are being held across Canada and are quickly gaining momentum - with the help of social media. Thousands of posts have been made on Twitter about the issue, under the hashtag #IdleNoMore.
Tuesday's demonstration comes after hundreds attended a rally in downtown Edmonton last Monday.
“The reason we’re gathering as one nation is because the Government of Canada, Stephen Harper, has put through an omnibus bill that will affect the treaties and the ability for the people on the treaty territories to make decisions in regards to land, resources and minerals,” Elder Taz Bouchier told CTV News at that rally.
“He (Harper) has had no consultation with the aboriginal community and that’s part of the discussion he needs to have with us as a people, with chiefs and treaty status people. For too long in this country there has been no consultation with the aboriginal community. We need to be consulted in every level of government.”
Jan O'Driscoll, a spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, said the department has made efforts to consult with aboriginal leaders. He said they continue work on pressing issues on reserves like education, clean drinking water and housing.
"While we've made significant strides, there is still work to be done," O'Driscoll said in an email. "We'll continue to partner with First Nations to create the conditions for healthier, more self-sufficient communities."
Locally, Kootenay says another Idle No More rally is planned for Friday and up to 5,000 people are expected to attend.
With files from CTVNews.ca