Idle No More: First Nations Resistance in London, Ontario
Today is Thursday, December. 20th, 2012 and Chief Theresa Spence is on the 10th day of her hunger strike. Not surprisingly, it is taking a toll on her physical health as she is reportedly weak and generally unwell. Chief Spence began her hunger strike on December.11th in protest of Stephen Harper’s refusal to speak with First Nations leaders in regards to Bill C-45, which through changes to The Indian Act (which is racist in itself), gives a significant amount of control of reserves to the federal government as well as putting thousands of protected lakes and rivers at risk by amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Canada now has less than 200 protected lakes and rivers. According to treaties between the federal government and First Nations, they are required to engage in dialogue with the First Nations people and receive their blessing before making any decisions that would affect land and water—surprise, surprise…broken treaties. This actually isn’t the only way the federal government is destroying the environment and human rights on Turtle Island. CETA, the Enbridge Pipeline, and FIPA are a few other examples. Thankfully, our First Nations sisters and brothers are rising up through a resistance movement called “Idle No More”. Over the past couple of weeks there have been peaceful, yet militant protests to show support for Chief Spence and speak out against Bill C-45.
First Nations communities in London and the surrounding area held their protest yesterday, and it was a damn successful one! The march temporarily closed down the 401 as approximately 1000 protesters marched on the highway and onto Wellington Road, all the way up Wellington through downtown and eventually ending in Ivey Park (Yes, Richard business school d-bag Ivey park). Several speeches were made by First Nations community leaders, as well as traditional singing and drumming throughout the March and afterwards. The streets belonged to us, and even the London police behaved themselves as they were mainly concerned with directing traffic and did not interfere with the march.
We are all familiar with the Attawapiskat situation. The deplorable conditions there and the lack of government action, in addition to everything listed above goes to show that the government really does not care what happens to the First Nations people. They are using Bill C-45 to further marginalize the First Nations people of Canada and exploit the Earth in whatever way they see fit in order to further their corporate capitalist agenda. I know that I am personally on the same page as many of our First Nations comrades when they say that they are not Canadian citizens. Legally, I am a Canadian citizen…but I am not proud of it. This is aside from the fact that I don’t even support the idea of a state. I am ashamed to live in a place that gives power to those who care so little for human life, the creatures who share the earth with us, and of course Mother Earth herself. The First Nations people of Canada (and Turtle Island in general) have been mistreated on their own land for far too long, and that is now coming to an end. I truly hope and believe that what we’re seeing is the beginning of a First Nations solidarity revolution. In the meantime, our thoughts should be with Chief Spence, who is prepared to die unless treaties are recognized, the Earth is given the respect it deserves and these human rights disasters are reversed…or at the very least, the First Nations people are given a voice in all of this.
As a privileged white girl, this is a struggle that I will gladly support from the sidelines while First Nations people take for themselves what is rightfully theirs. It was an honour to stand with with all of you yesterday.
Peace and Solidarity,