Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

First Nations activists' message spreads to U.S.

  • Print

MONTREAL -- The aboriginal movement known as Idle No More continued to gain strength beyond Canada's borders on Tuesday as activists embarked on a public relations blitz in the United States.

Pamela Palmater, one of the leaders of the movement, travelled to Washington, D.C., to give interviews to the U.S. press. She said the goal of the media campaign was to raise awareness internationally and force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act.

"The idea is to put pressure on the Canadian government to pay attention and come to the table," Palmater said by phone.

"I was invited to come down and do some media about Idle No More, basically answer questions about why it's spreading into the United States."

In addition to recent events held across Canada, rallies have been staged as far off as Texas, Hawaii and New Zealand with plans for more in the coming days.

Palmater said Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike, now in its fourth week, is part of a much larger protest movement.

The initial spark was the federal government's Bill C-45 omnibus budget legislation but it has now become about broader issues like inequality and treaty rights, she said.

Palmater noted an evolution in the form protests have taken over the past few weeks, toward increased civil disobedience.

"We did letter-writing and phone calls and trying to talk to MPs and, you know, we took that route and it didn't work," she said.

"Then we had to move up to peaceful marches and rallies and that didn't work. So now we're doing all these flash mob round dances, which are more about working hand in hand with Canadians and also keeping the focus on the media. But now you see blockades."

There have been several disruptions at rail lines over the past week, including one on the main line between Montreal and Toronto on Sunday evening that delayed Via Rail passengers. Protesters have also blocked a CN line in Sarnia, Ont.

There was even a call to set up blockades at Canada-U.S. borders on Saturday, though that move hasn't been endorsed by organizers.

A statement released last week on the Idle No More website urged peaceful forms of protest.

"Idle No More feels that any acts that are not in line with peace and solidarity only detract attention from our ultimate mission," the statement said.

Palmater echoed that sentiment on Tuesday.

"We're trying our best to avoid things that would inconvenience Canadians," she said.

Meanwhile, Spence's hunger strike continued to gain support from across the country. A group of activists travelled from the Maritimes to bring supplies to her protest site, located on an island in the Ottawa River across from Parliament Hill.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has offered to meet with her but Spence has turned that proposal down.

The federal government says it has made an effort to consult with aboriginal leaders and work on pressing issues on reserves. It points to a meeting last January with First Nations leaders as proof it is serious about improving their relationship.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 2, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weather for final Fringing weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • A Canada goose protects her nest full of eggs Monday on campus at the University of Manitoba- Standup photo- Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google