Naomi Sayers, Vice-President (Women) – There is a movement happening across Canada that is motivating and inspiring for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, and that is the #IdleNoMore movement. This movement began when four Indigenous women, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean, began to notice that critical measures needed to be taken to address the legislative action being enforced upon First Nations which would have considerable effects on all of Canada’s citizens, lands, and waters.
To date, there have been plenty of #IdleNoMore rallies organized and statements of support released by the Liberal Party of Canada’s Aboriginal People’s Commission, and by Liberal Party of Canada’s Critic for Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, Dr. Carolyn Bennett. There have also been numerous videos and images that have been circulating social media outlets showing support all the way from the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, just to name a few. As this is statement is being drafted, Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat (Cree) First Nation is on her 25th day of her hunger strike to draw attention to the issues that many Indigenous communities face which may include lack of housing, inadequate access to health care, or boil water advisory for multiple months and sometimes years. Again these are just some of the issues that are being faced by Indigenous communities and their populations. While Harper has agreed to meet with Chief Spence on January 11, she may well be in her 32nd day of her hunger strike. This is a good step in the right direction. Yet it fails to address the way Bill C-45 was introduced in the House that sparked the #IdleNoMore movement.
While the media tends to focus on the most prominent bill, Bill C-45 (which is also known as the Private Property Ownership Act), there are many other changes. Co-Chair (Male) of the APC, Chadwick Cowie, provides his view of these bills which include the following:
- Bill S-8 (First Nations Safe Drinking Water)
- Bill S-2 (Matrimonial Interest or Rights Act)
- Bill C-48 (First Nations Taxation Act)
- Private Members Motion Bill C-428
- Bill C-27 (First Nations Accountability Act)
- Bill S-6 (First Nations Elections Act)
- First Nations Education Act
- First Nations Property Ownership Act
One might begin asking why is Bill C-45 receiving all the attention? On December 4, 2012, Chiefs from across Canada arrived on Parliament Hill to be a voice for the people they represent, the people in their communities. The Chiefs were denied entry to the House of Commons, and this moment sparked the #IdleNoMore movement’s “platform to voice the refusal of First Nations people to be ignored any further by any other Canadian government”.
With the #IdleNoMore movement gaining momentum at a globalized level, we must not forget about the 800+ missing and murdered Aboriginal women/girls that continue to go missing while this movement is happening, and that have been missing and/or murdered before this movement began. It is important to highlight the fact that the Harper government continues to ignore this issue and silence the voices of the family/friends of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women/girls. Harper’s unilateral legislative actions against Indigenous populations and Canadian citizens are evidence of this silencing/oppression.
#IdleNoMore is a movement that has originated at the grassroots levels through the voices and hearts of four strong Indigenous women. This movement continues to grow in numbers and strength by the level of support received from other countries and through the support from many non-Indigenous people. #IdleNoMore is the historic moment where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people show support for these four Indigenous women and come together to show our strength in unity by fighting for Canada’s lands and waters, not for today’s citizens but for tomorrow’s children!
*Note 1: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of and/or official policy of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission and/or the Liberal Party of Canada*
*Note 2: The blog was published in the language it was received*