The Idle No More movement in the northwest has no plans to go idle and has more rallies in the works for later this month.
The movement, which has seen demonstrations staged across Canada since late last year, gained traction – and national attention – with the hunger strike of Attawapiskat chief councillor Theresa Spence.
She began her protest on Dec. 11, calling for a meeting “nation to nation” between herself, Governor-General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Late last week, Harper announced he would hold a meeting with First Nations leaders, including Spence, on Jan. 11. But the movement is far from over, said one of the northwest organizers, Shalane Pauls, noting the movement is about more than just a meeting with the Prime Minister.
“The fight is not over just because he has agreed to a meeting,” said Pauls.
Idle No More has homed in on changes contained in Bill C-45, the massive piece of federal Conservative legislation which is part of the government’s budget plans, but also has an impact on a wide variety of other areas, including the environment and changes to legislation affecting First Nations governance.
Two rallies have been held here in Terrace so far, the first at Brolly Square on Dec. 21, and the second inside the Skeena Mall on Dec. 28. The latter drew several hundred people and speakers included Kitsumkalum chief councillor Don Roberts.
While the demonstrations here have been largely attended by First Nations, Pauls says the goal is to also include non-natives.
“It’s not just a native issue, it’s a Canadian issue. There are many things that this bill applies to, it makes changes to 64 acts and regulations and it’s bound to affect everybody in some way,” she said. “It’s really important to create these alliances so that we can be a stronger Canada and show our one voice as to what we want and not just what they’re trying to put through.”
“[The government’s strategy is] to keep people confused, but that’s why it’s important to hold these rallies and get people knowledgable about the issues so they can make informed decisions for themselves,” she said.
Rally locations are to be announced a few days before each one happens. One possible location is the Kitsumkalum Hall.