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Royal Proclamation, environmental laws highlighted at Idle No More rally

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Idle No More supporters gather at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg as part of a global day of action Monday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Idle No More supporters gather at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg as part of a global day of action Monday. Photo Store

More than 200 people attended an Idle No More rally held Monday evening at the Manitoba legislature.

The Winnipeg event was one of more than 50 held in cities across Canada to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The historic document shaped the relationship between Canada's aboriginal people and the British Crown and resulted in protections enshrined for aboriginal rights in Canada's Constitution.

That's more important now than ever, said Idle No More organizer Michael Kannon.

"These laws aren't just affecting First Nations and Idle No More. They're affecting everybody," Kannon said.

He referred to federal policies that dismantled environmental laws last winter. The proclamation affirmed the sovereignty of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

"We are going to tell the truth about the lands, the waters and our relationship with each other," Kannon said.

The event drew mostly aboriginal people but also a number of non-aboriginals, too.

Among the speakers were Manitoba's Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis and city councillor Ross Eadie.

Meanwhile in London, Northern Manitoba Grand Chief David Harper led a delegation that toured the House of Lords and put on cultural performances, including a jingle dress dance and a hoop dance outside Buckingham Palace Monday.

"We're doing some campaigning, some awareness of our issues in Canada and we're getting a lot of traction," Harper said from London.

The emblem for the northern chiefs is a First Nations man shaking hands with a non-aboriginal settler, which reflects the spirit of the proclamation, Harper said.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 8:57 PM CDT: Adds photo.

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