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article imageCanada's First Nations rally shut down shopping malls

By Greta McClain     Dec 21, 2012 in World
Saskatoon - Thousands of First Nations protesters descended on Canada's Saskatoon mall, Parliament Hill and other locations around Canada as part of "Idle no More" protests on Thursday.
The group's movement began when Theresa Spence, the chief of the remote Attawapiskat First Nation, began a hunger strike 10 days ago. Since that time, aboriginal activists have used social-media to call attention to Spence and the concerns of the First Nations people. It was then that “Idle No More” was born. Their goal is to garner attention of both the indigenous community, as well the Canadian people in general, and the attention of people around the world.
Spence has been living in a teepee on Victoria Island since Dec. 11 of this year. She vowed to starve to death if her demand to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada was not met.
Idle no More protesters in Saskatoon Midtown Mall
Idle no More protesters in Saskatoon Midtown Mall
Idle no More/Facebook
Taking up her cause, the "Idle no More" group called on people throughout Canada to join in a "revolution" in honor of "Indigenous sovereignty". Members of the group believe that the Canadian legislatures Bill C-45 will cause serious harm to the environment and that there has been a concentrated effort by members of the Canadian government to disenfranchise the First Nations people.
Parts of Midtown Plaza was shut down on Thursday as an estimate 2000 people attended a flash mob, dancing in a circle to a chorus of traditional First Nations' signing and drums.
Jenn Altenberg, who attended the demonstration, told The Star Phoenix:
“People are walking up. People showing up here is a powerful statement. Our young people are finding their voices.”
A similar scene played out at Parliament Hill when members of the group rallied to demand the Canadian government reverse the C-45 legislation, which they says also affects treaties between the government and the indigenous peoples. Group members are quick to point out that the protests are not just about sovereignty and treaties however. John Noon, who attended Thrusday's flash mob, said:
“It’s not just First Nations or aboriginal people. I think it’s a culmination of a lot things. It’s like Occupy. It’s building on that. It’s going worldwide.”
Idle No More Round Dance at Parliament Hill
Idle No More Round Dance at Parliament Hill
Idle no More/Facebook
Idle No More Round Dance at Parliament Hill
Idle No More Round Dance at Parliament Hill
Idle no More/Facebook
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations has come out in support of the "Idle No More" movement, with leaders echoing the group's concerns about C-34 according to Chief Perry Bellegarde.
The protests also closed down highways and traditional Christmas music at many shopping malls was drowned out by native drummers. Shawn Atleo, the head of Canada’s largest aboriginal group, called Thursday's protests a "day of reckoning", telling the Globe and Mail:
“What we’re seeing in these rallies and events is that it’s not just first nations. Canadians are joining first nations across the country and saying essentially what the tagline says – that we will remain idle no more.”
More about Idle No More, First nations, Canada
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