Now is the time to be idle no more

Dawn Thompson of Nanaimo tells us why she has joined the Idle No More movement.

Editor:

I have joined the Idle No More movement, and here is why:

The continued oppression of aboriginal peoples affects all Canadians in a negative way, today more than ever.

We have a federal government that is steadily and stealthily circumventing democratic processes (see, for example, www.ipolitics.ca/2012/09/08/1984-in-2012-the-assault-on-reason-speech/) and selling Canada to the highest bidder.

It’s no longer just about First Nations sovereignty, but Canadian sovereignty: control of our water, other resources and our environment.

It seems more and more as if First Nations, through the treaty processes, are the only ones who may have the legal recourse to stop Harper, at least before 2015.

Here in Nanaimo, the Port Authority recently announced that it is leasing our harbour to an American developer for 30 years. There was no public consultation, nor did they consult with the local Snuneymuxw people. The developer plans to build a luxury marina that will very likely displace local fishing boats and those who live on the island in our harbour. It will radically change our harbour, and because of omnibus Bill C-38, it will require no environmental review.

At a recent meeting of opponents to the development, the presence of the Snuneymuxw, who just might have a chance, through the Douglas Treaty, to stop it, seemed to offer a glimmer of hope.

In alliance with the Idle No More movement, non-native Canadians who do not share Harper’s vision of Canada might work towards the repeal of the omnibus bills; First Nations consultation on free trade agreements that would allow Canada to retain some control over its resources; and protection of Canadian waters from the potential devastation of projects such as Northern Gateway and hydraulic fracturing used in the production of natural gas.

The mainstream media tends to focus more on Chief Spence, the AFN, and the prime minister than on the Idle No More movement. But Idle No More is where the connection between the interests of aboriginal and non-native Canadians can be found.

To extrapolate from Paul Hawken’s argument in Blessed Unrest, we are at a point in history where the interests of Indigenous peoples, environmentalists and those in the social justice movements — and I would add the Occupy movement and all Canadians who care about this land — have the potential to form an alliance that might really effect change.

I have for years tried to be an ally to aboriginal peoples in Canada, but in the past, my efforts have been mostly as an educator, rather than an activist. However, now is the time for me, and I hope other Canadians as well, to be idle no more.

Dawn Thompson

Nanaimo