Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local Idle No More protests sustaining momentum

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More demonstrations in Winnipeg are set to take place Friday as part of the national Idle No More movement, which aims to promote First Nations rights.

A demonstration organized by Winnipeg youth leaders and Aboriginal Youth Opportunities is set to begin at The Forks and make its way down to the legislature Friday starting at noon. More than 1,700 people had responded to a Facebook event for the event as of Wednesday afternoon.

The protest is being held to maintain the momentum of the Idle No More movement, said Kyra Wilson, a University of Manitoba student who is helping to organize the demonstration.

"I think that by having this movement, with the youth leading, it allows people to feel like they're a part of something bigger, and promote change themselves rather than waiting for something to happen at a provincial or federal level," Wilson said.

The demonstrators will promote solidarity with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11 to demand more respect for treaties from Ottawa.

Spence has been living in a tipi on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, less than a kilometre from Parliament Hill, since beginning her fast.

The Anishinabe consider Victoria Island as traditional territory. NDP MP Paul Dewar visited Spence on the island Tuesday and reported she is, so far, in good health.

"It's unfortunate that it's had to come to this to get the government's attention. We just pray that the government will do something before she gets sick or anything else happens," Wilson said.

Members of the Cross Lake and Norway House First Nations will walk from the Greenwood Inn on Wellington Avenue to Richardson International Airport Friday morning, also in support of the Idle No More movement.

Other local events planned for this weekend include flash mobs at the Portage Place and Polo Park shopping centres Saturday afternoon. The demonstrations will feature traditional First Nations drumming and dance.

-- with files from The Canadian Press

sarah.petz@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 A10

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