by Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive | Jan 11, 2013 7.00 PM EST
#IdleNoMore’s show of people-power forced Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stay for entire five hours of meeting with First Nations leaders.
More than five thousand #IdleNoMore protesters gathered in Ottawa today as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders held a closed-door meeting in the capital. The protesters first gathered outside the Langevin Block, the official home of the prime minister’s office and venue of the controversial meeting. They chanted songs, drummed and waved banners, before moving to the central block of Parliament Hill for speeches.
Idle No More protesters and their allies also held rallies across Canada, from Toronto to Montreal, Vancouver to Fredericton, Halifax to Whitehorse, Yellowknife to Winnipeg. APTN National News reports that “there were over 200 Idle No More related events around the world, from London, England, to Texas, to New Zealand.”
According to the CBC News, Montreal had the largest crowd outside of Ottawa, with a gathering of about 1,000 protesters near the Palais des Congrès. (More from the CBC’s coverage of the protests here)
A majority of the speakers in Ottawa expressed solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence and other chiefs from Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwest Territory, who boycotted the meeting demanding the attendance of Governor General David Johnston, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo attended the meeting with a delegation of about 16 chiefs.
Chief Spence, who is Day 31 of her indefinite hunger strike, has reportedly drawn up her will and is prepared for death unless there is real progress.
The impact of the peaceful protests was instant. Harper has reportedly agreed to attend the five-hour meeting. Initially, he had said he’d only attend the first half-hour, disappear and return to receive a summary of the discussions.
Was just offered Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from GG. I respectfully decline in solidarity with hunger strikers + #IdleNoMore
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) January 11, 2013
Below are few photos from the protest. (See more photos here)
- What Chief Spence’s Hunger Strike Says About Canada
- Idle No More dance and speeches on Parliament Hill (VIDEO)
- Chief Theresa Spence’s Heroism Already Eclipses Nelson Mandela’s
- Idle No More Movement’s Manifesto
- Canada’s Indigenous #IdleNoMore Movement Gains Momentum (VIDEO)
- Harper government bills that enraged First Nations, Theresa Spence, and birthed #IdleNoMore
- Canada’s First Nations leaders confront Harper Gvt on Parliament Hill