Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie sang on the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building at an early-evening Idle No More rally that was at turns festive and defiant.
A crowd of about 500 people gathered Monday at the legislature as part of a nationwide series of events timed to coincide with the end of the winter break at the House of Commons in Ottawa. Some carried placards urging Ottawa to respect treaties for First Nations. Others carried banners bearing the Métis flag or the names of left-of-centre Winnipeg social organizations.
Others simply waved light sticks or cheered on speakers who warned about the perils of disrespecting the environment. Then at dusk, the Saskatchewan-born Sainte-Marie briefly addressed the crowd before singing a Cree round-dance melody that reverberated off the face of the legislative building and out through its columns.
The 71-year-old musician, who now lives in Hawaii, said she has seen public concern about the environment wax and wane over the decades. She says First Nations have always tried to share concerns about the land, but never before with so much solidarity.