‘This is just history repeating itself’: protester at Idle No More march
Published Friday, December 21, 2012 1:03PM MST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 6:44PM MST
Hundreds of aboriginal activists and their supporters marched through Edmonton’s river valley Friday, in the latest of a string of demonstrations held across the country – to protest the federal government’s omnibus budget bill.
“The government found a way to just violate the natives all over again,” Joianne Prince of the Sucker Creek First Nation said Friday. “This is just history repeating itself.”
Friday’s rally joined a number of similar actions taken across the country in recent days – in protest of the omnibus budget Bill C-45,
The bill in question changes resource policies and land use, and First Nations members said it also weakens constitutional treaties.
The protesters started their demonstration Friday morning in Kinsmen Park – from there; they marched across the Walterdale Bridge, towards Grierson Hill.
The crowd then moved to Canada Place before heading towards Churchill Square before 1 p.m.
Among the crowd, was Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, who stood in solidarity of the Idle No More movement.
“The level of frustration has been building for a long time, [Bill] C-45 is kind of the latest tip of the iceberg,” Mitchell said.
The former Liberal MLA turned senator has been involved in analysis and debate around the bill – he called it an assault on Canadian’s rights. He said he's impressed with the protesters, that they're not only marching for their own interests.
“They’re really doing this more broadly for Canadians, and they’re to be respected for doing that.”
Friday’s protest came a day after, about 100 people blocked part of Highway 63 near Fort McMurray.
One of the organizers of Thursday’s roadblock spoke to CTV News Thursday, and said many are concerned about changes to the Water Protection Act.
Les Cardinal told CTV News under the bill now, about 80 of Canada’s 2.5 million lakes, rivers and streams are protected.
“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.”
First Nations said the bill changes 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.
Concerns have also been raised because First Nations members believe the bill was passed without proper consultation.
On the other hand, the federal government said it has made “significant strides” on reserve issues, such as education, clean drinking water and housing.
Additional protests were planned throughout the province and country, including a major rally at Parliament Hill.
With files from Susan Amerongen