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Native youth trek to city

Legislature rally part of global Idle events today

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As part of Idle No More events worldwide today, aboriginal youth from First Nations in Manitoba have been walking this weekend along Highway 59.

Their route is expected to bring them into the city by early afternoon today for a rally at the Manitoba legislature at 5 p.m.

Pioneer indigenous singing star Buffy Sainte-Marie is expected to join them, organizers confirmed late Sunday.

Sainte-Marie is in Winnipeg to speak at the University of Manitoba Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. about the momentum of the movement as part of the university student union's annual Week of Celebration.

In a second Manitoba event today, protesters plan to rally at mining operations at Snow Lake, 215 kilometres east of Flin Flon.

The local happenings will be among events in at least 30 Canadian cities and solidarity protests around the world as the indigenous grassroots movement marks a global day of action.

The agenda, which comes as Canada's MPs return to the House of Commons, includes events from a rally in Vancouver and a peace march in Calgary, to a gathering of jingle dancers on Ottawa's Parliament Hill and a sunrise ceremony in Montreal, according to regional Idle No More Facebook pages.

Internationally, protesters are set to gather for events everywhere from Australia to Sweden and across the United States.

"This day of action will peacefully protest attacks on democracy, indigenous sovereignty, human rights and environmental protections when Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons on January 28," organizers said in a statement on the Idle No More website.

"As a grassroots movement, clearly no political organization speaks for Idle No More. This movement is of the people... for the people!"

The movement urges the government of Canada to "repeal all legislation which violates treaties, indigenous sovereignty and subsequently environmental protections of land and water," according to the Idle No More website.

In Manitoba, youth from Bloodvein and Hollow Water First Nations on the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg began their trek to Winnipeg on Saturday.

Supporters from Black River and Brokenhead First Nations joined them Sunday.

"We've currently got eight vehicles, about 30 people. We are about 30 minutes by foot past Libau and have received excellent support from Black River First Nation and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation," one organizer reported Sunday afternoon on Facebook.

The social-media site, along with Twitter, are nerve centres for the movement, which started in Canada in early December. Idle No More was formed to rally against federal legislation that affects the environment and treaty rights.

A National Day of Action earlier this month saw blockades across the country organized by aboriginal leaders, including one near Portage la Prairie that blocked CN Rail tracks and the Yellowhead Highway at the Trans-Canada Highway junction.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2013 A5

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