Idle No More is – according to Welch (January 12, 2013) – “an indigenous resistance movement that has taken hold in centres across Canada.” In his article, published by Global Research News Hour and based on his radio programme, he provides information about the movement, which is the subject of this research paper. Some of that further detail is included in the following paragraphs, which explain more about Idle No More (INM), including its origins and aims, its impact on Canada, and the Canadian government’s response.
A report by CBC News Canada (Jan 5th, 2013) entitled “9 questions about Idle No More” stated that INM was begun by four women from Saskatchewan, in October 2012. They were: Jessica Gordon, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdam and Nina Wilson. The report recounted that they had been emailing each other about the recently-introduced Government C-45 Bill, which they felt would erode the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada. They chose “Idle No More” as the title of their Facebook page and as the movement’s slogan.
That CBC News report explained that Bill C-45 passed into law on December 14, 2012 and was then known as the “Jobs and Growth Act, 2012.” That omnibus bill modifies the legislation within other measures, including three that are of greatest concern to the INM:
– The Indian Act: changes that the INM say make it easier for the government to open up land and territory currently protected;
– Navigation Protection Act (former Navigable Waters Protection Act): changes remove protected status from almost all rivers and lakes in Canada;
– Environmental Assessment Act: changes remove much of the currently needed assessment procedure before project approval can be given.
The Vision revolves around Indigenous Ways of Knowing rooted in Indigenous Sovereignty to protect water, air, land and all creation for future generations. The Conservative government bills beginning with Bill C-45 threaten Treaties and this Indigenous Vision of Sovereignty. The Goal of the movement is education and the revitalization of Indigenous peoples through Awareness and Empowerment. IDLE NO MORE has successfully encouraged knowledge sharing of Indigenous Sovereignty and Environmental Protections.
In terms of the INM’s impact on Canada and especially the policies of the Canadian government, it is perhaps too early to tell – we are after all just three months or so down the road from the organisation’s birth. However, there has already been a meeting (Friday January 11th) in Ottowa between several First Nations chiefs and Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister. A CBC News report entitled “Idle No More protests go on after PM meets AFN leaders” published the following day, related that there were widespread protest events held on Saturday January 12th, and that a “Day of Action” is planned to coincide with the return of the Canadian Members of Parliament to the House of Commons. Because the INM blames the British for the original treaties that have in their view never been honoured, the INM attempted to persuade Governor General David Johnston to attend the meeting also, but that did not materialise. It is seen as positive progress that the prime minister agreed to meet with AFN leaders, but there is a high level of cynicism in the INM as previous attempts to restore the rights of the indigenous peoples have not resulted in significant change. For those interested in that background of the struggles by the Indigenous peoples to assert their rights, Coulthard (January 7, 2013) – himself a First Nation member – published an article providing good historical detail on the subject.
INM has also seen manifestations of support from outside Canada. Johnson (January 14, 2013) reported that supporting actions have been staged across the U.S. and other countries of the world including Egypt and New Zealand. Ball (January 12, 2013) reported that a supporting protest was held in London, England, at the Canadian High Commission building. Ball also reported that the Friday 12th January meeting with Stephen Harper was supported by “several thousand” protestors outside. In a separate article, Toensing (n.d.) reported that the Palestinians are also supporting INM, although it should be noted that according to the article, the support has been initiated and organised by one Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian writer and activist resident in Vancouver. However, from the research undertaken, the INM movement does seem to have gained a considerable strength of support considering it is only three months old (or less). Their Facebook page – accessed today (15th January 2013) – showed membership standing at 47,149.
It is clear from the research that INM is a movement that has engendered a great deal of support for the campaign to assert and protect the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples, but only time will tell if they achieve greater success than previous efforts, some of which also involved mass protests and other similar actions. In many instances the INM are battling against powerful business interests who clearly wish the INM to fail in its objectives..
“9 questions about Idle No More.” (January 5, 2013). CBC News, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/01/04/f-idlenomore-faq.html
Ball, D., P. “Idle No More flexes its muscles in day of action: We could shut down the country if we really wanted to.” (January 12, 2013). rabble.ca. Retrieved from http://rabble.ca/news/2013/01/idle-no-more-flexes-its-muscles-day-action-we-could-shut-down-country-if-we-really-want
Coulthard, G. “Idle No More in context: A history of resistance.” (Jan. 7, 2013). rabble.ca. Retrieved from http://www.rabble.ca/news/2013/01/idle-no-more-context-history-resistance
Facebook. (Accessed January 15, 2013). Idle No More. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/Idlenomore.official/?fref=ts
“Idle No More _freeradiorevolution” (January 14, 2013). Before It’s News. Retrieved from http://beforeitsnews.com/politics/2013/01/idle-no-more-_freeradiorevolution-2484368.html
Johnson, L. “Indigenous ‘Idle No More’ Movement Sweeps Across US.” (January 14, 2013). Earth Island Journal. Retrieved from http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/indigenous_idle_no_more_movement_sweeps_across_us
Toensing, G., C. “IDLE NO MORE: Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More.” (n.d.). Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved from http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/article/palestinians-endorse-idle-no-more-146631
Welch, M. “Idle No More: First Nations Resistance Movement across Canada.” (January 12, 2013). Global Research News Hour – Episode 10. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/idle-no-more-first-nations-resistance-movement-across-canada/5318433