Idle No More protests held on Haida Gwaii

  • Jan. 4, 2013 2:00 p.m.

A large crowd gathered outside the Masset courthouse last week and around 100 people gathered in Skidegate Friday afternoon (Dec. 28) as the Canada-wide Idle No More protest spread to Haida Gwaii. “Today, approximately 100 people came together in support of Chief Spence and in support of trying to stop the passing of Bill C-45, to be able to make to make this a better world for everybody,” said the organizer of the Skidegate event, Babs Stevens. “It’s almost 2013 and any injustice there is in this world needs to be stopped.” There were speeches in support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s ongoing hunger strike, as well as singing, dancing, offerings and prayer and a challenge from Herb George, Chief Satsan, to the crowd that their New Year’s resolution be to take action. Mr. George described the protests as grassroots, with “people saying ‘enough is enough, we want change’.”Mr. George said the national Idle No More movement – which has seen demonstrations throughout December in cities all over Canada, as well as internationally – stems from a combination of issues. One is the overall experience and treatment of people under the Indian Act. Another is the government’s omnibus bill, which includes changes to parts of the Indian and Fisheries Acts, and another is the ongoing hunger strike by Chief Spence.Chief Spence, whose community of Attawapiskat was in the news last year because of extensive housing problems, has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11 asking for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a situation Mr. George believes was caused by a lack of recognition and support. “I see the Idle No More movement as people standing up, finally at a national basis, saying we’ve had enough, we’re going to be Idle No More,” he said. Mr. George also said that he believes the protests have been effective in pulling First Nations people together across the country. “It’s causing people to think about it and realize that they need to get out there.” “I’m just really proud of people taking their own initiatives and stepping up with their own spirit and stepping forward and saying I want to be part of making a difference,” Mr. George said. “We need to connect this harness to our leadership so we can all be pulling in the same direction and the same objectives. It’s time.”