Idle No More: The Rise And Fall Of A Movement

Idle No More was a phenomenally successful grassroots movement when it exploded onto the political landscape in the Fall and Winter of 2012.  It was a movement whose time had come, and what began as a discussion among four Indigenous women in Canada became a cause heard around the world.

But as with everything, even grassroots movements have a cycle.

Idle No More succeeded beyond most people’s wildest dreams because it identified four major problems that needed to be addressed.  The movement identified and prioritized those four major problems, and focused on those four problems.  And because those four problems resonated with so many, there was a great deal of support for the movement.

No one went about recruiting followers and members for no other reason than to have large numbers to tout to the media.  The movement knew and understood their audience, and knew what would motivate them to action.  The movement didn’t ask people to get involved; the movement gave people reasons to get involved.

The movement celebrated every victory regardless of whether it was one person who successfully changed a bad situation or if it was a major success that involved a great many people.  But this is where the grassroots movement started to falter.

When a grassroots movement reaches this point, others much be trained and supported in taking leadership positions within the organization.  Instead, the movement felt that no one should be the leader of the movement, and that all people should be leaders.

Unfortunately, what happened at this point is what ultimately has damaged the movement as more and more conspiracy theorists and wanna-be Indians have taken over many of the social media groups that cropped up when INM began.

For a grassroots movement to continue to grow, they must remember to do a few things well instead of doing as many things as possible thereby doing most of them poorly.  Volunteers and advocates of the grassroots movement need tools, training, and accurate education to be effective.  The focus has to stay on building, sustaining, and expanding the volunteer and support bases.

Every grassroots movement has to do a yearly assessment of the impact of their efforts.  The difficult questions to answer have to be answered and quantified.

What did the movement accomplish?
What unexpected roadblocks were encountered?
What unexpected successes were achieved?
What issues were overlooked?
What issues were misidentified?
How can we do better moving forward?

With leadership, most movements have a short lifespan of between 8 and 10 years.  INM is almost 4 years old, but without leadership, it has fallen into chaos and the movement has lost its way.

The original intent of the movement was to assert indigenous sovereignty (Nation-to-Nation relationships), to enforce indigenous rights, to respect the treaties, and social and environmental sustainability.

Much of the focus has shifted since the beginning with conspiracy theories abounding from how the Illuminati are in control of the world to how GMOs will kill people and vaccines cause autism.  In some social media groups, it’s gotten so bad that the Admins are not only buying into lunacy and bad science, but promoting it as well.

The Idle No More movement we once knew is long gone, and a poser movement has taken its place using the INM banner.  The saddest part of all this is that Idle No More was the best chance we had at changing things for the better, and that chance is gone forever now.

Elyse Bruce


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