Inciting a Peaceful Revolution in Canada

by sophiaroseglt on March 19, 2014 - 10:11pm

‘‘Idle No More calls on all people to join in a peaceful revolution, to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and to protect the land and water’’

 

Theresa Spence is the chef of the Attawakispat tribe and she has ignited a movement called Idle No More to alert the dominant culture of the injustice that the government was imposing on the First Nations, Inuit and Metis. Theresa Spence decided to do a hunger strike to attract the attention of the government so they can discuss the injustice and find common grounds. Her protest was able to attract worldwide interest to awaken a revolution for better aboriginal rights. Unfortunately her hunger strike lasted from December 11, 2012 to January 24, 2013. This means that the government ignored her and left her to starve herself for 44 days. Her diet consisted of drinking only lemon water, medicinal teas, and fish broth to make sure she was under the maximum calorie intake for a hunger strike. At the end of the hunger strike, the many protests, and the pressure the international community was making on the government caused Steven Harper to finally call a meeting with the leader of the aboriginal communities, it is mentionable that he never referred to the hunger strike as an event and concealed its very existence.    

Theresa Spence is the symbol of the Idle No More movement because she symbolises resilience and is a pillar due to all the involvement in its many events. Idle No More has quickly become one of the largest Indigenous mass movements in Canadian history because of the many Canadian allies that have joined the movement but also due to the many supporters across the world. Although Idle No More is mainly First Nations, Inuits, and Metis fighting for their rights it also invites all the nations to join in and help fulfil sovereignty for all Aboriginal communities across Canada. 

For this article I have based my evidenced on the Idle No More website and also a French article from Lapress called ‘‘Triste à mourir (de faim)’’ (Sad Enough to Die of Hunger) which was written by Vincent Marissal on December 29th 2012. 

Comments

This post was very interesting to me for many reasons. First of all, I was able to identify with this post because I am Native American and live on the Seneca Nation of Indians Allegany Reservation. I know that many protests can lead to violent actions when Indigenous people are involved. My town has been locked down a few times over conflicts between the State and the Seneca Nation. I find it very revealing for a peaceful protest to be performed by a member of the First Nations. I hope that the actions from this protest were able to spread across other nations and allow everyone to learn that violence is not needed to solve problems. There are many problems that Indigenous people face on a daily basis and it is often that peaceful resolutions are not found. I find sadness in the way that many Native Americans are treated by others. As you stated in the article, the protest was ignored and never acknowledged. It is too often that the problems of Native Americans are ignored.

I found this post to be intriguing on many levels. To begin, throughout my lifetime, I have vacationed in eight Canadian provinces, (in Ontario the most) and have heard nothing of the difficulties of the First Nations, nor anything concerning the Idle No More movement. In a group tour conducted by a major global tourism company in the Yukon Territory and Alaska, my family and I were taken to several replica Inuit villages and gained some knowledge on their way of life, such as how they fish and what types of clothing they wear. In my view, in both Canada and the United States, American Indians and the Inuit are romanticized, and many members of society are unaware of the immense poverty and institutionalized racism, (a variety of racist practices that lead to economic and political gains among Caucasians) that they face.
Political leaders do not enough to support the First Nations. Reading that Prime Minister Harper did not acknowledge Theresa Spence’s hunger strike shows you the true character some of our politicians possess. I cannot wrap my head around how a government could ignore a person who is trying to peacefully prove a point! If interested in researching this topic further, it would be intriguing to know what the Canadian government has done in the past two years or so following Spence’s hunger strike to improve First Nation injustices, if anything. Additionally, have there been any other movements similar to Idle No More?

Hi, I just wanted to say a few words about Idle No More and affiliated indigenous resistance movements.

Idle No More, while having started with the hunger strike by Spence, continues as a growing movement to this day. While the initial battle may have been lost, that spark has lit a fire in the hearts and minds of the indigenous all across this country. Those three words - Idle No More - describe an attitude which is finally sweeping across native communities in Canada (and to a lesser extent the US). The indigenous of Canada have been politically dispossessed for far too long, and I myself find their struggle to be highly inspiring. I only wish the settler population (which includes myself) would begin to systematically rebel as well. With the picture being painted about climate change looking increasingly bleak - see the recently released Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change report predicting huge food shortages, water scarcity and resource wars within decades - rebellion may be our only hope.

Idle No More, since its explosive beginnings, has involved itself heavily in the environmental movement; targeting the Alberta Tar Sands, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas, mining, and resource extraction in general. They have declared that they will no longer accept the pillaging of their ancestral land for the secular gods of profit and power. They have aggressively asserted their treaty rights, which have been systematically ignored by the Canadian government and our corporations since the treaties were initially signed.

One particularly stark example of this is the case of the Tar Sands, a huge area in Alberta which was supposed to fall under the treaty rights of the Beaver Lake Cree for "as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow" (words from the treaty). Under the treaty, settlers are allowed to use the land under Beaver Lake Cree jurisdiction, provided that the land is left intact. The images available of the Tar Sands show a flagrant disregard for both the letter and spirit of the agreements which have been made.

http://img.tedcdn.com/r/images.ted.com/images/ted/f1c537327fdd66cbbd67b3...

The area captured in the above picture was, before the Tar Sands project began, pristine Boreal forest - what had been one of the last untouched old-growth forests in the world. It must be stressed that this land belongs to the Beaver Lake Cree. It is nearly impossible to wrap one's head around the size and scale of this project, which can already be seen from space. Plans are to expand the project to an area the size of England. NASA climatologist James Hansen describes the Tar Sands as "game over" for the planet.

So the Beaver Lake Cree have, like so many indigenous nations since Idle No More, began to fight back. Their resistance is currently taking the form of an ongoing case being brought to the Canadian Supreme Court which argues that the project violates treaty agreements and therefore must be shut down entirely.

One sees similar processes repeating themselves wherever the settler population in Canada plans new projects based on environmentally destructive resource extraction - which is, unfortunately, everywhere in this country. In New Brunswick, Mi'kmaq nation set up blockades and stopped corporations from fracking for shale gas, eventually coming to a confrontation with the the government, who sent in RCMP storm troopers dressed in military gear with live-fire sniper rifles to crush the resistance. The state was unable to stop the Mi'kmaq, and fracking is no longer being pursued in the area. In Quebec, local Idle No More chapters and northern Inuit populations were at the forefront of successfully blocking the highly destructive Plan Nord, a huge scale mining operation which was planned but never carried out due to popular resistance. In Ontario, various Idle No More chapters and indigenous groups have been at the forefront of fights to shut down the "Chemical Valley" of Sarnia, which sits on top of a Chippewa reserve. These same groups have been some of the most vocal against the coming onslaught of pipelines coming from the Tar Sands.

So, to make a long story short, Idle No More is far from over. It has only just begun. Find ways to support the indigenous near you! Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but it is in your interest to do so as well. The indigenous often grasp aspects of life which we settlers casually ignore or brush off as unimportant: that without a clean environment, clean air, and clean water, no amount of technology - or what we narrowly describe as "progress" - will save us. Their rebellion is our rebellion. It is time to join the fight.

Hi, I just wanted to say a few words about Idle No More and affiliated indigenous resistance movements.

Idle No More, while having started with the hunger strike by Spence, continues to as a growing movement to this day. While the initial battle may have been lost, that spark has lit a fire in the hearts and minds of the indigenous all across this country. Those three words - Idle No More - describe an attitude which is finally sweeping across native communities in Canada (and to a lesser extent the US). The indigenous of Canada have been politically powerless for too long, and I myself find their struggle to be highly inspiring. I only wish the settler population (which includes myself) would begin to systematically rebel as well. With the picture being painted about climate change looking increasingly bleak - see the recently released IPCC report predicting huge food shortages, water scarcity and resource wars within decades - rebellion may be our only hope.

Idle No More, since its explosive beginnings, has involved itself heavily in the environmental movement; targeting the Alberta Tar Sands, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas, mining, and resource extraction in general. They have declared that they will no longer accept the pillaging of their ancestral land for secular gods of profit and power. They have aggressively asserted their treaty rights, which have been systematically ignored by the Canadian government and our corporations since the treaties were initially signed.

One particularly stark example of this is the case of the Tar Sands, a huge area in Alberta which was supposed to fall under the treaty rights of the Beaver Lake Cree for "as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow" (words from the treaty). Under the treaty, settlers are allowed to use the land under Beaver Lake Cree jurisdiction, provided that the land is left intact. The images available of the Tar Sands show a flagrant disregard for both the letter and spirit of the agreements which have been made.

http://img.tedcdn.com/r/images.ted.com/images/ted/f1c537327fdd66cbbd67b3...

The area captured in the above picture was, before the Tar Sands project began, pristine Boreal forest - what had been one of the last untouched old-growth forests in the world. The land belongs to the Beaver Lake Cree. It is nearly impossible to wrap one's head around the size and scale of this project, which can already be seen from space. Plans are to expand the project to an area the size of England. NASA climatologist James Hansen describes the Tar Sands as "game over" for the planet.

So the Beaver Lake Cree have, like so many indigenous nations since Idle No More, began to fight back. Their resistance is currently taking the form of an ongoing case being brought to the Canadian Supreme Court which argues that the project violates treaty agreements and therefore must be shut down entirely.

One sees similar processes repeating themselves wherever the settler population in Canada plans new project based on environmentally destructive resource extraction - which is, unfortunately, everywhere in this country. In New Brunswick, Mi'kmaq nation set up blockades and stopped corporations from fracking for shale gas, eventually coming to a confrontation with the RCMP where the government sent in storm troopers dressed in military gear with live-fire sniper rifles to crush the resistance. The state was unable to stop the Mi'kmaq, and fracking is no longer being pursued in the area. In Quebec, local Idle No More chapters and northern Inuit populations were at the forefront of successfully blocking the highly destructive Plan Nord, a huge scale mining operation which was planned but never carried out due to popular resistance. In Ontario, various Idle No More chapters and indigenous groups have been at the forefront of fights to shut down the "Chemical Valley" of Sarnia, which sits on top of a Chippewa reserve. These same groups have been some of the most vocal against the coming onslaught of pipelines coming from the Tar Sands.

So, to make a long story short, Idle No More is far from over. It has only just begun. Find ways to support the indigenous near you! Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but it is in your interest to do so as well. The indigenous often grasp aspects of life which we settlers casually ignore or brush off as unimportant: that without a clean environment, clean air, and clean water, no amount of technology - or what we narrowly describe as "progress" - will save us. Their rebellion is our rebellion. It is time to join the fight.