Idle No More comes to town with Friday rally

Grassroots indigenous movement protests legislation that threatens resources, environmental protection

First Nations activists are taking part in a week of rallies across the country, as a grassroots movement known as Idle No More organizes to protest Conservative government legislation.

Supporters say they are upset about the effects of the Harper government’s policies on aboriginal communities. They want First Nations to be recognized as sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting the country’s land and resources.

The local group, Idle No More Cranbrook, has a rally planned in front of MP David Wilks’ office Friday, Dec. 21, at 1 p.m.

“Idle No More Cranbrook will be unified and standing together for Indigenous Sovereignty,” said Lisa Luscumbe, main local organizers and Facebook page manager.

“We would like to extend an invitation to all Canadians, all Indigenous People and anyone who would like to support this movement by attending this event because the issues we are concerned about don’t just affect Aboriginal people across Canada but all Canadians.”

Events are being held across the country this week, and the movement has been gathering momentum, thanks to a widespread online presence.

”There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well,” says a manifesto published on the group’s website, idlenomore.com.

”We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.”

Thousands have used the #idlenomore hashtag on Twitter to debate issues and spread information about upcoming protests.

Luscombe said that she, Morgana Eugene and Jason Andrew — all members of the Ktunaxa Nation —  started off by creating the Idle No More Cranbrook (INMC) Facebook Page to create awareness in the Kootenay Region and to gather support for the Idle No More Movement to host a Rally in Cranbrook.

“We started our INMC Facebook Page on December 12, 2012 and as of today we have 119 likes,” Luscombe said. “We are all volunteering our time to organize the rally in Cranbrook and we are not experienced in rally organizing but we have the strength of our Indigenous Nations across North America supporting us and encouraging us.

“We hope we have a good turn out at the rally and we hope the momentum grows in the Kootenay-Columbia region in support of the Idle No More Movement.”

The movement is particularly critical of the Government omnibus Bill C-45, which was passed by the Senate on Friday, Dec. 14. The movement is also concerned with several other bills which have not been passed, which Idle No More says threatens  resources and environmental protection laws.

To learn more about these concerns and the “Idle No More” nationwide Indigenous Movement go to their website: www.idlenomore.com.

“You don’t need to be an elected leader or have an important title to make a difference ,” Luscombe said. “This Indigenous Movement is showing that united together we stand strong together as one.

“The Idle No More Movement is one nation, one voice and one fire.”

The rally takes place at 100 – B Cranbrook Street North in downtown Cranbrook on Friday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m.