Idle No More on Turtle Island

17.01.2013 - Toronto - Jorge van Schouwen

Idle No More on Turtle Island
(Image by http://bit.ly/S3TRkv)

Indigenous and Non-Indigenous youth and women respond to the gentle wake-up call sounded by some courageous women.

A movement came to light, a historical slumber shook off its sleepy head, a peaceful grassroots wave irradiated! That tiny wave began on November 10th, 2012 in a place relatively close to the geographical centre of Turtle Island (North America) exactly at
Station 20 West, in the City of Saskatoon, in the prairie Province of Saskatchewan in the country of Canada.

An active, courageous and peaceful sensibility has now irradiated and touched all the good people that inhabit this Northern Land and beyond the borders imposed by the European Colonists some time ago. These pale European Colonists already starting in the XVI century imposed a violent, discriminatory, bellicose and murderous system. The practice of progressive disappearance was already tested for many centuries in these lands and afterward cruelly refined in the Europe and Latin America of the XX century.
These disappearances are the invisibility that is imposed on the First Nations. Just like Canada exported to South Africa its Apartheid system that happen to be a perfect fit for the practices of those other pale European Colonists. In Turtle Island the First Nations have been persecuted, hunted down, assassinated and when the Colonists needed to take a break from the bloody hunt they segregated the Indians in reservations far from the nascent towns of the European Settlers. For centuries they rained down on the “Indians” with the practices of incredible physical violence, of economic violence in dispossessing them of their Lands and Waters and of all the little animals and all other creatures that shared the place with them, they imposed a bullying, cruel and thieving Religion, they unleashed Chemical Warfare in introducing the consumption of powerful chemicals and
narcotics such as alcohol, drugs and volatile chemical compounds specially amongst Native youth. They took away their amiable and solidarity system of trading and exchanging of goods and skills and replaced it with a system based on golden powders
and dirty pieces of paper with some numbers on them. They have been made invisible, abused and idled for many generations. They took away everything but their human dignity and intention and what we witness today is a waking up and how this sentient
wave moves from heart to heart thanks to the tender midwives of this Movement.

It is in Station 20 West where four humble, sensible and courageous Indigenous and Non-Indigenous women decided that the settlers had gone too far. The Colonization was accelerating and they needed to speak out and act. Silence and complicity weren’t unitive options when facing the unprecedented and savage Legal and Constitutional attacks on all First Nation People and the Lands and Waters across the country. With great gratitude and admiration for this small germinal group I feel a duty to personalize and name them. It’s the least we can do in homage to that wake-up call. Once again women coming to nurse, heal and transform the intrinsic human disaster of the present Canadian financial and political system. They are Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean. That day they got off their couches and decided to put an end to a state of idleness. They thought why don’t we call it “Idle No More” and then spread this message through Facebook and later Twitter and through online discussion groups.
They declared that it was urgent to take action on the current and upcoming Legislation affecting First Nations people, a legislation also affecting the rest of Canada’s inhabitants, lands and waters. The intention was in bringing together grassroots voices and peaceful

actions. The wake up call began in early October, 2012 on the ramifications of the Canadian Government’s Bill C 45. The original group of women declared that “Bill C45 is not just about a Budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies
of water we all share across this country. The Bill brings forward fundamental changes specifically to the Indian Act that will lower the threshold of community consent in the designation and surrender process of Indian Reserve Lands”.

With the passage of Bill C45 Idle No More has come to symbolize a firm but peaceful opposition and has become a platform to voice the refusal of First Nations people to be ignored any further by any other Canadian government present or future.

On December 10th., 2012 a National Day of Solidarity and Resurgence was called so everybody could come together with one voice in a nationwide event. Canadians and others should not be surprised to learn that South Africa modeled their system
of apartheid on the Canadian Indian reserve system. Apartheid found it’s demise a generation ago but Canada continues with this outdated, inhuman and racist model. This event marked a moment in history when centuries of segregation and rejection came to a halt. Thousands upon thousands joined harmoniously across the country and beyond.

On December 11th., 2012 Theresa Spence, an Indigenous mother of five daughters decided she would start a liquid fast replenishing herself only with herbal teas and fish broth as part of her modest action in support of the Idle No More movement. Ms. Spence is one more symbol of the peaceful protest in spite of the great risks to her physical wellbeing. She declared a hunger strike and has been living in a traditional Tepee (Indigenous structure) on Asinabka (Victoria Island) near the Parliament building (Colonists structure) on Parliament Hill in the Capital City of Ottawa, Canada. She has been calling on all women including the Prime Minister’s wife to come to her Tepee and “pray together for Canada”. It’s very important that Theresa’s action is known but we also need to clearly keep in mind that the larger, meaningful and fuller face of Idle No More is a mosaic of peaceful and active Indigenous and non-Indigenous grassroots people.

In the words of the grass movement Idle No More “we call on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfills Indigenous Sovereignty which protects the Land and the Water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damages to the Land and to the Water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the Treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth”.

Yesterday, January 16th, 2013 another Day of National Action took place across Canada and beyond and even though a minority carried actions reminiscent of outdated angry actions (and the media concentrated on that) the majority of the Idle No More Movement continues waking up, growing and bringing together the good people through peaceful and non-violent activities.

Categories: Indigenous peoples, North America

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