Idle No More movement stages national day of protest

National chief urges Canadians to ‘stand with us’

Idle No More movement stages national day of protest

The Canadian Press

 First Nations protesters upset about relations the federal government held rallies across Canada and gathered on Parliament Hill for a national day of protest

Hundreds of First Nations protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and shook a collective fist at the federal government as they gathered on Parliament Hill to put Canada on notice they would be “idle no more.”

More than 1,000 protesters, a group stretching several city blocks, marched through the streets of the capital Friday after meeting with Theresa Spence, the chief of northern Ontario’s troubled Attawapiskat First Nation, who is on a hunger strike.

National Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo addressed the crowd, saying, “The year 2013, it harkens a moment of reckoning in this country.”

He told the young activists gathered on the Hill that they they were “the change that we’ve been waiting for” and also called on Canadians to support the growing movement and its quest for Ottawa’s recognition of aboriginal treaty rights.

“We reach out to Canadians,” Atleo said. “We want you to understand that the Department of Justice, that the federal government, that so many governments over so many years, they stand on a principle that is unacceptable.”

“Canadians, we are counting on you to stand with us and to do this now at this juncture in history,” he added.

“We are tired of having the boot put to our head,” Algonquin Chief Gilbert Whiteduck told the gathering beneath the Peace Tower under a steady barrage of snow.

“We want the government of Canada to come to the table in a spirit of unconditional openness and transparency.”

Other rallies were held in various cities across the country. Demonstrations in support of Spence’s cause also took place in the United States.

Hundreds of people briefly blocked one of the busiest intersections in Toronto in solidarity with Idle No More, a grassroots aboriginal protest movement gaining traction on social media. Several Manitoba First Nations groups also rallied at the Winnipeg International Airport, congesting traffic.

In Montreal, more than 100 supporters of Idle No More gathered peacefully in Cabot Square, while dozens of members of the Listiguj Mi’gmaq community blocked Highway 132 and slowed traffic on the interprovincial bridge that connects Quebec to the Maritimes.

Supporting treaty rights, opposing Bill C-45

Idle No More organizers oppose the Harper government’s recently passed omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, and accuse the Tories of trampling on treaty rights.

Julie Vaux, a spokeswoman for Harper, said the rallies did not change the government’s position. The Conservatives insist they are taking strong action to address aboriginal concerns.

As recently as Nov. 28, Harper and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan met with Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo and others to review progress to date and discuss a range of issues, Vaux said.

“Our government hosted an historic gathering of the Crown and First Nations this past January,” she also noted.

“Since then, the government has been working with First Nations leadership to make progress in several areas, most notably education and infrastructure on reserve.”

For First Nations people, however, that progress has been far from enough.

And many see Spence as a warrior standing up for all Canadians.

Hunger strike ‘warrior’

Spence has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 11, living in a tipi on an island in the Ottawa River that many aboriginals consider to be sacred land. Atleo met with her Friday and said she appeared weak from 10 days of ingesting mainly water and fish broth.

Atleo joined demands for the government to intervene on Spence’s hunger strike and highlighted her importance in the Idle No More movement.

“We know who is leading this movement. It is the women,” Atleo told the crowd in Ottawa. “And so men, when a woman like Chief Spence says it is time to work together, it is time to be unified, it is time to be idle no more, we better listen.”

Shelly Young, an aboriginal activist from Nova Scotia, wept during a panel discussion Friday in Halifax as she spoke of how Spence is inspiring others.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is conducting a hunger strike and demanding a Crown and First Nations meeting to deal with the pace of assistance to First Nations communities.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is conducting a hunger strike and demanding a Crown and First Nations meeting to deal with the pace of assistance to First Nations communities.(Canadian Press)“She is a warrior in our eyes because she’s standing up to the government, she’s saying the pain is too much,” Young, 30, said in an interview.

“I think sometimes we have to do the extreme to get the attention of the government, because they’re ignoring us.”

Atleo told CBC News Friday evening that he had not yet received a reply from the Prime Minster’s Office about meeting with Spence.

Protesters in Nova Scotia also held a peaceful demonstration along Highway 102 in the Truro area, causing about eight kilometres of traffic gridlock.

The Canadian Auto Workers and civil service unions across the country have also shown support for the movement, saying they stand in solidarity with First Nations in a struggle against Bill C-45.

Spence did not take part in the Ottawa rally, but on Thursday, she wrote to Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston, urging them to start a national discussion about poverty in First Nations communities.

With files from CBC News

Quote of the Day

“I remember learning about the history of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada and thinking to myself, “That’s not fair”. The systemic racism that occurred throughout history as a result of colonialism has given way to the lateral violence that still exists today.” ~ Joshua Vegas 2012

Lateral Love Australia Welcomes Joshua Vegas


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Joshua Vegas advocate and International Ambassador for Lateral Love Australia

By Nicola Butler 24 October 2012

Joshua Vegas, also known as Nneka Atto, is a female self-taught visual artist and singer hailing from Toronto, Canada.

Joshua is a female alternative pop singer and lyricist, with influences arising from folk, country, indie, pop, rock, alternative, and soul music. Although primarily a contralto singer, Josh boasts a wide vocal range, with many different “characters” within her voice. Joshua’s graphite pencil art is featured here in two of her works ‘Flight of the Arrow’ and ‘Heart’ done in her signature black-and-white, minimalist-influenced style as according to Joshua – “less is more”.

Joshua connects with Lateral Love Australia (LLA) as one of our International Ambassadors, empowering the cause and supporting our efforts to raise awareness and create positive change by encouraging dialogue around the true histories of colonised nations specifically around the impact and effect of the manifestations of Lateral Violence within our families and communities through participating in ‘The Decade of Lateral Love around the World 2012 – 2022’ and beyond.

Joining our growing number of International Ambassadors, advocates for Lateral Love, such as Ben Vereen and Aaron Vereen who both signed on to the ‘Decade of Lateral Love’ earlier this year during their Australian tour in June of 2012, Lateral Love Australia is now being viewed in 114 Countries by over 23,000 individuals Worldwide.

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we welcome Joshua, it is an honoured to have her on board and we look forward to creating the opportunity for healing and change together in Unity through Lateral Love and Spirit of Care for all Humankind.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be an ambassador for Lateral Love Australia, and I take this as a great honour and privilege. I am a strong supporter of the Aboriginal communities across Canada and around the world, and I have no doubt that being involved with LLA will be a rewarding and enriching experience. Even as a very young child, I remember learning about the history of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada and thinking to myself, “That’s not fair”. The systemic racism that occurred throughout history as a result of colonialism has given way to the lateral violence that still exists today. For example, in Canada, a developed nation, some Aboriginal communities on reserves are living in third world conditions and are treated by the government as second-class citizens. And I still think to myself, “That’s not fair.”

Lateral violence and/or “trans-generational trauma” are serious problems, and working with LLA, I hope to spread this message of Lateral Love in hopes of fostering healing and change. Most importantly, I would like to help the younger generation, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to gain a greater understanding of love and cultural awareness. It is an enormous task, but it must start from somewhere. As the children and youth grow, I want such understanding and knowledge to grow with them.” Joshua Vegas 2012

To find out more about Joshua Vegas please visit her website at

For all media enquiries please contact:

Joshua Vegas      1-416-712-4917                Email:

Brian Butler         0419 801 085                     Email:

Nicola Butler      0423 285 256                     Email:

Quote of the Day

“My outlook on life can be summarized by minimalist philosophy: once the excess has been eliminated, all that is left are those things that have extraordinary significance, the most value.” ~ Joshua Vegas