This morning, I was shocked to see some of my Facebook friends posting racist comments about the Idle No More movement. Yes, shocked, as in “a severe offense to one’s sense of propriety or decency; an outrage.”
What in the world could anyone have said that would evoke such an emotion?
The comment was that “those Indians need to shut up.”
My friend Solomon Cyr, Executive Assistant to Chief and Council at George Gordon First Nation, was told the other night that First Nations peoples and their supporters should all be put in jail for protesting and being part of such things as the Highway #1 Peaceful Slow Down Barricade happening today in Regina, Saskatchewan. Oddly enough, the organizers involved the local RCMP as well as the Ministry of Highways to ensure that the demonstration is successful and within the confines of the law. That’s certainly law-abiding and not worthy of incarceration.
So many have the mistaken belief that the ONLY thing that matters with the Idle No More movement are First Nation rights, and that Indigenous peoples are just whining and carrying on for no good reason. The Idle No More movement is so much more than just First Nations rights, but it certainly begins with First Nation rights, and there are most certainly a number of good reasons as to why people around the world should involve themselves in this movement.
The Idle No More movement has two goals: Indigenous sovereignty (Nation to Nation relationship) and protection of the land and water (Social and Environmental Sustainability).
Canadians and First Nations people had no say in the changes the government made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and scrapping the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The changes saw the elimination of the navigation protections for 90 cent of the waterways in Canada. As of December 5, 2012 only 62 creek and rivers, and 97 lakes are protected (plus 3 oceans) instead of the 2.5 million protected rivers and lakes (and 3 oceans) it had the day before on December 4, 2012.
Interestingly enough, media reports have identified 87 of the still-protected 97 lakes as being within, or next to, ridings won by Conservatives in 2011. One of those still-protected lakes is Lake Rosseau, where Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Goldie Hawn, business moguls and NHL stars such as former Detroit Red Wing Steve Yzerman, have cottages. But as of today, I haven’t heard any of those people speak up in support of the Idle No More movement.
And to which media reports am I referring? For one, the Ottawa Citizen who published they had used ArcGIS mapping software to determine which federal electoral districts the shorelines of each lake named in the budget bill overlapped. The data was then combined with election results from 2011 to calculate breakdowns by MPs’ parties.
In other words, the Idle No More movement is important to so many more than just the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Yes, my friends, the movement is also about the protections that have been removed on the environment. It’s about the relaxation of regulations that will now allow other countries to develop, purchase, and mine our resources, and to leave Canadian taxpayers with the cost of cleaning up after those countries when they pull up stakes and go back to their own countries.
A number of those mines are going to be run by companies from China operating under China’s pollution and environmental rules, not Canada’s pollution and environmental rules (which are far more strict).
The Idle No More movement is about everything that matters in this world and for that reason, it’s important to Canadians and people around the world to stand WITH the Idle No More movement and make their voices heard.
Special Note to Readers and Visitors: Be sure to read — and share on your social media — the next installment in this series of blog articles entitled, “Idle No More: I’ve Been Suspended.” Thanks for all your support and comments!
United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Fact Sheet
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
Navigable Waters Protection Act