IDLE NO MORE is a global movement that aims to protect the environment and respect Indigenous people’s relationship to the land. There are so many aspects that people are criticizing and I think we should take a second and examine some of the criticisms and share the facts as I understand them.
I have been involved since December 2012 as an organizer of some of the December events. In recent months I have committed myself to working on the educational elements of Idle No More developing presentation resources and outlines so anyone can facilitate a group discussion on why Idle No More is relevant to all Canadians.
Listed below are some Q&As that hopefully address the myths that are floating around out there in the world.
WHERE DID IDLE NO MORE COME FROM?
INM originated in Saskatchewan when 4 women (2 indigenous, 2 non indigenous) took an online conversation into their communities. They were talking about Bill C-45, how it puts our environment at risk and violates the treaties. Those Teach Ins were what ignited Idle No More and the primarily young indigenous participation in this movement. The basis of this movement is education, non-violence and respect for natural law.
WHAT IS NATURAL LAW?
Natural laws tell people, young and old, how they should respect the land, the water, the animals and each other. Natural law says that every living thing is connected and when people follow natural law, the environment is healthy, people have enough to eat and the land and animals will flourish for future generations. – Muskwa: Fearless Defender of Natural Law Comic Book (won as a prize from MM@BT in December 2012)
WHO IS THE LEADER?
There is no leader. As a grassroots movement, INM exists in the actions that are taken by you and I. There are people who help to spread the message, people who like to host meetings, people who like to attend events and we need all of their help. And as a leaderless movement, our involvement as citizens is paramount.
WHAT DOES IDLE NO MORE WANT?
We want a lot of things. But for starters, the repeal of Bill C 45, the repeal of Bill C38 with some concrete plans on the table to replace the Indian Act and update the Treaties. We also want to protect mother earth, honour the spirits of our ancestors and one another, and listen to our women. We also want the voices of Aboriginal youth to be heard because for so long, so many have gone unheard. There are alarming rates of incarceration, child welfare involvement and suicide that we have to live with, and are hoping to be equal partners in creating the change we need in how our systems work with young Indigenous people.
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PROVE?
The original Idle No More founders shared a vision of a movement that was grounded in traditional teachings, peace and education. It is with that in my mind that I get involved with this movement. We are asking all Canadians to join with us to stand up for democracy and protect Mother Earth. It is with a vision of a united and healthy community where all Canadians are healthy in mind, body, and spirit that we move forward and stand together. The round dance is a symbol of how we are trying to lead by example – our unshaking commitment to protecting mother earth is not something that is going to fade away. Ever. Period.
WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS BANGING DRUMS, BURNING SWEETGRASS AND SINGING?
It is our culture and for many years it was illegal for us to practice it. More than half of the Aboriginal people in Canada are under the age of 30 with many who do not speak their language or practice their traditions. By sharing our drums, ceremonies, medicines and other customs with the general public, we are showing Canadians the beauty and strength of being connected to one another and mother earth. It is how we pray, and how we demonstrate our commitment to being stewards of this land for future generations.
YOU SEEM SO DIVIDED IN THE MEDIA?
We are not divided; we are learning to talk with one another. We are hearing from one another and having disagreements within healthy dialogue is good. Keep in mind this is a very emotional subject, and we are now having a very personal conversation, but on a global level. This is primarily young Indigenous people leading the conversation, so if we stumble, or make mistakes at times, understand it is because we have never spoken to the world before and we are learning too.
IS IT REALLY NECESSARY TO BLOCK TRAFFIC?
Most of the Idle No More events in Winnipeg have happened along side the Winnipeg Police Service to ensure the safety of participants and the general public. Many of the blockades that have happened in recent weeks are not necessarily Idle No More events. The Aboriginal community is very active and there are many facets, including some that are more aggressive in their tactics. INM always wants to retain ceremony in our gatherings, and focus our message on solutions and unity.
WHEN WILL YOU STOP?
The short answer – not for a while; I foresee Idle No More lasting well into the next federal election in 2015. We will stop when a proper process is on the table to seriously address the offensive legislation that concerns Aboriginal People, treaties and environmental protection. Keep in mind there is an urgency in our demonstrations, as many of our young people and community members are dying each day that we wait. Many people have a heart for others in war torn/overseas countries that are in need, and we ask all Canadians to stand up for our own young people – because when we are healthy, educated and involved, we are gonna stand up for you.
This movement is about unity. It is about working cooperatively alongside Canadians. Many people say that we shouldn’t meet with the Prime Minister or officials unless it is on our terms. I say we meet with them at every available opportunity. Attending their meetings creates a precedence and an expectation that they should next attend a meeting of our own crafting. Boycotting meetings, attempting to create division in a time when we must stand united for the sake of future generations is selfish. We must work together – regardless of our quarrels. I may disagree with you, but I still love you. I appreciate the work we are all doing, and urge us to continue applying pressure, raising awareness, celebrating and loving one another.
1) Global Day of Action: today (Mon. Jan. 28) at 5pm at the Manitoba Legislative Building. #j28 on twitter!
2) Weekly Teach-Ins: Be on the look out! Starting in February 2013 there will be a weekly opportunity in Winnipeg every single week to learn about Idle No More, the values and the teachings.
3) Manitoba Tour: There will be seven communities in Manitoba that will be visited by the Manitoba Idle No More Team with the final one being in the Whiteshell for a powerful solstice ceremony.