Solidarity spring: A Call to action from Idle No More & Defenders of the Land
Idle No More has sparked an awakening of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples internationally in support for democracy, human rights and environmental protections. In three short months, the movement has succeeded in raising global consciousness through education, cultural resurgence, and democratic political activism.
We have shaken the foundations of inequality in Canada, and invited communities to join in a movement for social and environmental justice. We now need many more people to stand with us.
The Harper government’s agenda is clear: to weaken all collective rights and environmental protections, in order to turn Canada into an extraction state that gives corporations unchecked power to destroy our communities and environment for profit. Harper is trying to extinguish Indigenous Peoples’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights to their territories, because these rights are the best and last protection for all Canadians.
Idle No More has confronted these policies, and Harper supporters such as ex-Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan, suspended Senator Patrick Brazeau, resigned minister Peter Penashue, and Tom Flanagan have been called into question by grassroots people.
Idle No More will help rebuild the nation-to-nation relationship that is the foundation of this country. This means deepening democracy, respecting Indigenous sovereignty and protecting the land and waters from further resource extraction without the affected Indigenous Peoples’ free, prior, and informed consent.
We know it will take a lot more to defeat Harper and the corporate agenda. But against the power of their money and weapons, we have the power of our bodies and spirits. There is nothing that can match the power of peaceful, collective action in the defense of people and Mother Earth.
Idle No More and Defenders of the Land, a network of Indigenous communities in land struggle, have joined together to issue this common call for escalating action. Our demands are clear and in accordance with the principles of coexistence and mutual respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. We demand that Canada, the provinces and the territories:
- Repeal provisions of Bill C-45 (including changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act, which infringe on environmental protections, Aboriginal and Treaty rights) and abandon all pending legislation which does the same.
- Deepen democracy in Canada through practices such as proportional representation and consultation on all legislation concerning collective rights and environmental protections,and include legislation which restricts corporate interests.
- In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ principle of free, prior, and informed consent, respect the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to development on their territory.
- Cease its policy of extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and recognize and affirm Aboriginal Title and Rights, as set out in section 35 of Canada’s constitution, and recommended by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
- Honour the spirit and intent of the historic Treaties. Officially repudiate the racist Doctrine of Discovery and the Doctrine of Terra Nullius, and abandon their use to justify the seizure of Indigenous Nations lands and wealth.
- Actively resist violence against women and hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and involve Indigenous women in the design, decision-making, process and implementation of this inquiry, as a step toward initiating a comprehensive and coordinated national action plan.
CALLS TO ACTION:
March 21st International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
We are calling for decentralized actions across the country.
April 22 Earth Day:
Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous rights are in many cases the best defence against environmental destruction by unchecked greed and industrial development. This Earth Day we are calling for nationwide autonomous local protests — and a mass non-violent direct action in Ottawa to be announced soon -highlighting the importance of Indigenous rights in combating the Harper and corporate agenda. We are asking people to prominently include messaging on Indigenous and Treaty rights in their actions.
Indigenous communities have the right to determine the development on their traditional and treaty territories. In defending their right to say “No” to unwanted development, First Nations like Barriere Lake, KI, Grassy Narrows and many others are advancing alternatives that help us re-imagine our relationship to the environment. Across the country, people are increasingly supporting First Nations who are trying to protect lands, waters and air for everyone, and to win recognition of marine protections, of sustainable forestry, of local, just economies, and of the principle that we must respect the environment that we are a part of.
We are calling on non-Indigenous people to join Indigenous communities in coordinated non-violent direct actions in the summer. Alternatives will only come to life if we escalate our actions, taking bold non-violent direct action that challenges the illegitimate power of corporations who dictate government policy.
- Idle No More founders, lead organizers, provincial and territorial chapters, and working groups
- Defenders of the Land
- Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation
- Algonquins of the barriere Lake
- Ardoch Algonquin First Nation
- Judy Da Silva – Grassy Narrows Women’s Drum
- Chief Candice Paul – St. Mary’s First Nation*
- Dini Ze Toghestiy – Hereditary Chief , Likht’amisyu Clan, Wet’suwet’en
- Mel Bazil – Leh Lin co-founder, Grassroots Wet’suwet’en
- Rebeka Tabobondung, Publisher, Muskrat Magazine
- Audrey Huntley – No More Silenve
- Melina laboucan-Massimo – Lubicon Cree First Nation*
- Carol Martin – Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre*
- Russell Diabo – Mohawk Nation (Kahnawake)*
- Arthur Manuel – Secwepemc Nation, Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade
- Clayton Thomas-Mueller – Pukatawagan Cree Nation*, Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign
*Identification provided for information purposes only. To add your First Nation, organization, or yourself (if you are Indigenous) as a signer, send an email to[email protected] or [email protected].
With regard to the recent conduct of both the Harper government and Premier Pauline Marois, namely of taking decisions unilaterally, without the consent of First Nations. I, Jeannette Pilot, an Innu woman from Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, have been on a hunger strike since January 1, 2013, which means seventy-two days in total. On March 11, I will stop hydrating myself—a complete fast. I am ready to go to the end so that the rights of the First Nations are recognized, and to fight alongside the Idle No More movement for the people and the future generations. I demand that Harper’s Conservative government stop its modification of certain laws and its imposition of others without first consulting the people who will be affected by them.
Here is the list of the laws I am opposed to:
- Navigation Protection Act
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
- First Nations Financial Transparency Act
- Bill C-45 on employment and growth (2012)
- Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
- First Nations Elections Act
- Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
- Act to amend the Indian Act and to provide for its replacement
- An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non-derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
- First Nations Self-Government Recognition Act
I deplore the fact that the Harper government has modified laws without consulting the indigenous nations. Considering that these nations have the right to self-determination, based on international law which recognizes the right of peoples to choose freely their political system, independently of any outside influence, we demand that all the amendments and modifications to the laws be suspended, and that a consultation and a referendum are held in all the bands that have signed no treaties and whose lands are unceded.
Gaz Métro has finally started moving with its project to extend the 450km-long gas pipeline that runs between Jonquière and Sept-Îles; they’ve already already spent $10 million on it. The chiefs and their counsellors had technical consultations with the company in 2012. I demand that this project be suspended immediately. It is not acceptable to pursue that project without consulting the Innu people via referendum. I demand that both the band councils and the government put an end to this project if the majority of Innu are against it.
I demand that any mining projects in the province of Québec be suspended. Before mining projects for uranium or anything else are initiated, indigenous nations that are impacted by the project must be consulted in a referendum, and the band councils and the government should stop the projects if the majority of people are against them.
I demand a moratorium on the massive deforestation of the boreal forest in Nitassinan and the province of Québec. The state of the forests, the pace of deforestation, and the carelessness of the band councils and the government call to mind the tragedies in Malaysia or the Amazon. To satisfy the companies’ insatiable thirst, the government is still issuing logging permits. These permits could endanger fragile ecosystems and threaten indigenous peoples’ traditional lifestyles. Because, as Innu, we must preserve the link between Pappassik and Atik, we condemn the fact that the government of Québec, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the federal government of Canada are threatening our age-old relationship with Atik by making Labrador a forbidden area, forbidding us from hunting caribou on that territory. I demand that this ban be lifted and that we will be allowed our right to practice subsistence hunting on all of Nitassinan. For this demand from the people, I hope you grant both understanding and amnesty.
The founders and organizers of Idle No More support the declaration made by the Mi’kmaq grass roots people in their resistance to the impending framework agreements under the premises of economic opportunities.
“Drastic measures have been implemented with the declaration of a fast by a citizens assembly in the Mi’kmaq community comprised of members from each of the neighboring provinces. The lead fasters, who will consume only water throughout the duration, will be Idle No More organizer Shelley Young, a member of Eskasoni First Nation and Jean Sock, a member of the New Brunswick reservation Elsipogtog” (Mi’kmaq Press Release).
The negotiation tables implemented through the Harper government are contrary to the Treaties, Indigenous sovereignty, and are a threat to the environment. The inherent rights of Indigenous peoples are the last line of defense for the collective rights of all Canadians. The drastic choices people are making to resist these policies are reflective of the times that are upon us. The Harper government policies reveal that the people no longer come first. We need to focus on protecting Indigenous sovereignty and our environment. Leadership need to know that when they stand with the grassroots people, we will fully support them. This can be the beginning of what we seem to have lost.
Now is the time. We want to thank the leadership who have decided not to support Harpers policies and are working on building alternatives.