In this article adapted from the website of the Socialist Workers Party (US) Brian Ward reports on the rise of the Idle No More movement, which is demanding that long overdue attention be paid to Canada’s impoverished First Nations communities.
Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by means of its bountiful land and natural resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are some of the most powerful in the world. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land, but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned–the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.
— Idle No More Manifesto
Since December 10, the First Nations movement called Idle No More has taken Canada by storm. On that day, Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Cree band began a hunger strike in a tipi on Victoria Island, not far from the centre of the federal government in Ottawa.
Six days later, the Toronto Star wrote an editorial calling on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accede to her demand for a face-to-face meeting.
Finally, on January 4, Harper agreed to meet, but Chief Spence is taking nothing for granted, given Harper’s record of broken promises to Canada’s First Nations. Prior to Harper’s announcement of his intention to meet with her, Spence expressed her willingness to “die for her people.” She plans to continue her hunger strike until the meeting actually happens.
Nothing approaching the scale and intensity of this indigenous uprising has taken place in Canada or the U.S. in many years. There have been grassroots protests across Canada, including flash mobs at malls and daily drum circles in every major city, with anywhere from a couple hundred people to more than 60,000 attending. [Read more…]