Idle No More movement persists in Comox Valley, spreads outside Canada

A GRAPHIC DESIGN (hand holding a feather) created by Comox Valley artist Andy Everson is seen here during an Idle No More rally in the Czech Republic. - David Spící Medvěd Lahoda
A GRAPHIC DESIGN (hand holding a feather) created by Comox Valley artist Andy Everson is seen here during an Idle No More rally in the Czech Republic.
— image credit: David Spící Medvěd Lahoda

Participants at the next Idle No More rally will line Dyke Road on Monday at noon, following several other local demonstrations concerning aboriginal treaties, Omnibus bills C-45 and C-38, and other issues affecting First Nations in Canada.

More than 300 people attended the first rally late December at Simms Millennium Park in Courtenay. Further rallies were held at the corner of Cliffe Avenue and 17th Street, and at the office of North Island MP John Duncan, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. A Teach In was held last weekend at the K'ómoks First Nation Big House.

Idle No More is a grassroots movement among First Nations people in Canada. Protests have been held in numerous cities in support of Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence, who this week reached her 50th day of a hunger strike. Spence plans to continue fasting until Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to meet with her and other First Nations leaders to discuss treaties.

The movement, which takes particular issue with the Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-45), has evolved into an international movement.

Andy Everson notes the diversity of crowds at local protests.

"There's a lot of non-indigenous people that are taking part in the rally," said Everson, a KFN member. "The attitude is really positive. The whole premise behind it is as a peaceful demonstration."

He said the issues are "far-reaching," with many aspects affecting First Nations and all Canadians, such as the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the "softening" of environmental protections.

"For native people, a lot of our communities are in remote areas. These waterways are crucial for the very survival for some of these communities ... It all comes down to the emphasis that the government's putting on making way for large corporations to do what they want in these territories.

"It's going to be the First Nations people in these rural communities that are going to be affected first, and eventually it's going to trickle down to everybody, all in the name of profits.

"It's such a big thing," Everson added, noting government's lack of consultation with First Nations. "Coming at it from the First Nations perspective, we have actual legal entitlement and right to complain that they're not following their own guidelines and agreements they signed in the past.

"That's our grievance. That's the thing that's really driving Idle No More forward."

Everson created a logo that has been used on a placard at a demonstration in the Czech Republic.

"It's literally everywhere," said Everson, who created a design for the Simms Park rally. Through Facebook, the logo "found a life of its own. I released it as a design for anybody to use for the movement."

Protesters are asked to gather at noon Monday near the Big House.

The design is also part of a new application for mobiles that lists Idle No More events anywhere in the world.


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