Idle No More—Turtle Island rising
An indigenous movement has been spreading rapidly across Canada with solidarity events being held all over the world. ‘Idle No More’ is a response to the weakening of environmental protection and about advancing indigenous rights.
The right-wing Canadian government under Stephen Harper that was elected in 2011, has proposed a number of 'Omnibus bills' (bills that cover a number of diverse or unrelated topics). One of those bills is C45.
“Bill C45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country” says Sylvia McAdam.
The Bill brings forward changes specifically to the Indian Act that will lower the threshold of community consent in the designation and surrender process of Indian Reserve Lands. McLean reminds that bill is about everyone. She says “the changes they are making to the environmental legislation is stunning in terms of the protections it will take away from the bodies of water – rivers and lakes, across the country". She further adds, “ how can we not all be concerned about that?”
Idle No More began with 4 ladies; Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon & Sheelah McLean who felt it was urgent to act on current and upcoming legislation that not only affects our First Nations people but the rest of Canada's citizens, lands and waters.
The focus is on grassroots voices, treaty and sovereignty. It began in the early part of October when discussing Bill C45. All 4 women knew that this was a time to act, as this bill and other proposed legislation would affect not only Indigenous people but also the lands, water and the rest of Canada.
With the focus on the most urgent bill knowing it would initiate attention to all other legislation, the 4 ladies held rallies and teach-ins to generate discussion and provide information. They then decided a nation wide event was garnered so all could participate, thus, The National Day of Solidarity & Resurgence was called for December 10th, 2012, to oppose all legislation and to build solidarity while asserting inherent rights and nationhood while protecting our lands for all people.
"These colonial forms of legislation that the government expects to unilaterally impose on us has brought us together, to stand together" says Jessica Gordon.
When Bill C45 was brought to the House of Commons for a vote, First Nations leaders demonstrated that they are hearing these voices loud and clear. They joined the efforts against Bill C 45 and went to Parliament Hill where they were invited into the House of Commons by the New Democratic Party. However, they were refused entry. This refusal to allow First Nations leadership to respectfully enter the House of Commons triggered an even greater mobilization of First Nation people across the country. Nina Wilson says, “what we saw on Parliament Hill was a true reflection of what the outright disregard the Harper Government has towards First Nation people.”
The current chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, Theresa Spence, started a hunger strike on 11 December 2012 and she says "won’t end until Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston agree to sit down and talk about Canada’s treaty relationship with First Nations leadership."
Solidarity rallies and flash mobs have taken place around the world. Over 30 events have been held in the United States, across the continent and in Hawaii. Solidarity rallies were also held in Stockholm, Sweden, London, UK, Berlin Germany, Auckland, New Zealand, and Cairo, Egypt, and messages of support have come from Croatia, Ukraine and Palestine.“We wanted to show our brothers and sisters in Canada that we feel your suffering, The Canadian and U.S. governments can no longer ignore us,” said Jordan Harmon a member of the Mvskoke Nation.
A protest is organised in Wellington for Monday, 31st December 2012, 2pm, at the Canadian High Commission (125 The Terrace).
There is also a public meeting in Wellington on Thursday, 10th January, 6pm (19 Tory Street (Concerned Citizens)) about tar sands. "Join us for a conversation with an environmental justice/indigenous solidarity activist from "Canada" for a conversation about this ongoing struggle."
Idle No More: Maori Women in Solidarity
The ‘Idle No More’ movement began to move across Great Turtle Island on December 21, 2012 and with it the significance of this time of transition was shared with the world.
As Indigenous women, as Māori women, across Te Moana nui a Kiwa, the Great sea of Kiwa, we send our thoughts and blessings to our tuakana (elder line) who are taking the lead to send messages to the world that things must change. Your leadership with its commitment and dedication to our responsibilities as Indigenous Peoples to Papatūānuku, to this great Grandmother Earth, is a powerful expression of the cultural and spiritual pathways that we must all commit and dedicate ourselves to for the future wellbeing of all living things that share this earth.
We stand in solidarity with our relations who are taking to the streets, who are walking the earth, who are sharing the sounds of drums and song, who are sending blessings and prayer to Creator to bring us in to a period of revitalization for all Indigenous Peoples.
We thank you for your strength to continue to stand in protection of Papatūānuku. We thank you for your courage to stand in protection of future generations so that for seven generations and beyond there is a place for our descendants to stand. We thank you for your powerful expression, in these moments in time, of the dreams, visions and aspirations of our ancestors, seven generations and beyond, who held true to our protocols, beliefs and values in relationship to all living things.
We send karakia, blessings and thoughts of wellbeing to Chief Spence, to her children, her family, her nation, and acknowledge her act of bravery for the wellbeing of all people. Her act of selfless dedication to past, present and future generations carries the message to the world that the current state of oppression of Indigenous Nations across the globe must end. The power of your stand, Chief Spence, is watched with the utmost respect and our tears flow for you, for the pain and sacrifice that you experience to bring this message to the world. He nui tō mātoua aroha ki a koe, mā ngā atua koe e manaaki, e tiaki i tēnei wā. We send to you our love, compassion, respect and call to Creator and all guardians of our lands to embrace and nurture you at this time.
As one group of Indigenous women from Aotearoa we send our absolute solidarity and support to the Indigenous Nations across Great Turtle Island who stand at this time as guardians and protectors of Papatūānuku. Our karakia, our blessings, soar across the Great Sea of Kiwa to you all
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.