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Idle No More Highway 63 blockade, big Edmonton rally planned for Friday
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:56PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:38PM MST
The latest demonstration opposing the federal government’s Bill C-45 took place in the form of a roadblock north of Fort McMurray on Highway 63 on Thursday.
Organizers say about 100 people blocked Highway 63 near Fort McMurray Thursday afternoon, in protest of the federal government’s omnibus budget Bill C-45, which changes resource policies and land use.
First Nations members also say Bill C-45 weakens constitutional treaties.
Les Cardinal, one of the organizers for the road block, says First Nations are especially concerned about changes to the Water Protection Act. Cardinal says out of Canada’s 2.5 million lakes, rivers and streams, the bill would only protect about 80 of them.
“They are leaving all the lakes and rivers open to whoever wants to use the water. They can pollute the water,” Cardinal said.
“What’s going to happen then is industry can come in there, anybody can come there, take what they want, utilize what they want, pollute what they want, and get up and leave.”
Movement organizers also say Bill C-45 brings changes to the Indian Act that will fast-track the process for aboriginals to surrender their reserve lands by lowering the threshold of community consent needed to hand over territory.
First Nations members are also upset because they say the bill was passed without proper consultation.
Thursday’s highway blockade was just the latest in a string of recent ‘Idle No More’ demonstrations that have been taking place locally and across Canada.
Demonstrators blocked the road for about two hours. At one point, two lanes of traffic were shut down and police were on scene.
Cardinal adds the bill affects all Canadians and everyone should be paying attention to the national movement.
“This represents not only First Nations rights. We’re standing up for all of Canada. The democracy here has been none,” Cardinal said. “They’ve made some decisions and pushed this through in such a way that they put all of Canada at risk.”
The first big Idle No More demonstration was held in Edmonton last week, when hundreds marched downtown voicing their concerns.
The movement has made headlines across Canada - gaining traction through Twitter, under the hashtag #IdleNoMore.
The federal government says it has made “significant strides” already on reserve issues such as education, clean drinking water and housing.
A big rally on Parliament Hill is planned for Friday.
A large rally and march is also planned locally for Friday.
Organizers expect thousands will show up for that one, which begins in Kinsmen Park and end in Churchill Square.
The Edmonton Police Service is encouraging motorists to avoid travelling between the Kinsmen Recreation Centre and Canada Place in downtown Edmonton between 10 a.m. and noon.
Police say the march will begin at Kinsmen Park, cross the Walterdale Bridge to Rossdale Road, then to the Papaschase burial grounds located near Telus Field baseball stadium, before crossing 97 Avenue and up Grierson Hill.
Marchers will then continue on to 101 Street and Macdonald Drive around noon, where they will stop to rally. From there, participants will continue east on Jasper Avenue to Canada Place, where aboriginal ceremonies will take place.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., rally participants are expected to march north to Churchill Square, where the rally will end.
With files from Veronica Jubinville and CTVNews.ca