Idle No More and More with UN Youth Rep. Andrea Landry
May 2013 was the second and final year of the Tribal Link Project Access Training course for the beautiful 24 year old Andrea Landry of the Anishinaabe (also known as ‘Ojibway’) First Nation of Canada.
Since her pivotal first year of the Project Access Training in 2012, for the United Nations Permanent Forum in New York City, USA; Andrea Landry has had the opportunity to understand the Indigenous struggle on a global scale. Over the last year she has been in the process of completing my Masters in Communications and Social Justice, and keeping up the advocacy work for Indigenous peoples in Canada. She also has had the opportunity to attend Human Rights training in Bangkok, Thailand; for 10 days…also to have discussions with Maori peoples in Aotearoa (New Zealand) on Indigenous issues in Canada, and to become highly involved with the Indigenous rights revolution in Canada called “Idle No More.”
In Andrea’s own words:
“Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdams, Jessica Gordon, and Sheelah McLean came together to call for action for the resurgence of Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty, with a focus on defending the land, air and waters.
The first focus was the omnibus bill as created by the federal government in Canada, which is also known as Bill C-45. The components under this bill include, but are not limited to: the Navigable Waters Protection Act – which redefined protected waters in Canada from the tens of thousands of protected bodies of water to a mere 97 lakes, 62 rivers, and three oceans. This means that construction involving these bodies of water would no longer need approval from those affected.
The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, in which it is now demanded that safe drinking water systems be implemented onto reservations but the dollars are utilized from the remedial funding stemming from education and social services. It also means the onus to maintain and have facilities that are up to standards are placed on the First Nation effected without the dollars with which to do these things.
The Safe Drinking Water Act also transfers responsibility from the federal government to the provincial government which dishonours treaty rights. Also, changes to the Indian Act without any consultation with First Nations peoples in regards to the Act that controls and governs Indigenous peoples in Canada. Through the changes, the key issues are the concept of the Canadian Conservative government had no free, prior, and informed consent as established in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has endorsed, in any areas of these changed legislation.
My involvement with the movement began when I noticed that nothing was happening within the city of Windsor. I decided to contact a colleague and we organized a rally. We weren’t expecting many people, yet were shocked when 200 people showed up. We began the rally in ceremony, by offering Tobacco to the water and marching from the Detroit river, to the local media outlet, to city hall. We ensured that positive messaging was placed out and that everyone who wanted to speak had the opportunity to speak. From there, I went home over the winter to spend time with family over the holidays. In my community of 60 people in North Western, Ontario, I asked my mother if we could hold a rally. Again, we weren’t expecting much support as it was -40 degrees Celsius out and we live right off of the trans-Canada highway. Yet, throughout the day while we stood next to our sacred fire, about 40 people showed up. We took turns holding signs up on the highway and ensuring our voices were heard. I then attended small rallies in various communities on my traditional territory and with everyone came a new introduction of a cousin, a relation, and feeling the power of our ancestors as we continued to rise.
I then went on vacation to Los Angeles, California and heard about a rally occurring there. Of course I had to go. I went and ended up having a meeting with the Canadian consulate to discuss why the Idle No More movement was occurring and why it was important that others became involved. Then came the day that the Chiefs in the country called Canada were meeting with the Prime Minister to have treaty discussions. My colleague and I then decided to host a rally in Ottawa, the capital of Canada where the meeting was taking place. We weren’t expecting more than 500 people, yet when 8000 showed up we were beyond shocked. The reality here was that the prophecy was truly coming to life. The march was a historic one and we saw Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples standing together in unity and solidarity. I then went out to Wellington, New Zealand and held an Idle No More presentation to Maori Indigenous peoples and others. It was through this that I began to see the uprising of Indigenous peoples globally, and the reality was, it all stemmed with ceremony.
Upon my return to Canada, I began to educate non-Indigenous peoples on the reality of the Idle No More movement and why it wasn’t just a “native thing.” The way that media was depicting it was that the “natives were angry.” Yet, while being in the middle of the rallies and protests, not a single scene of violence was shown. The reality was, we weren’t angry, we were living and breathing prophecy. And prophecy surpasses politics.
So within this journey of rallies, protests, standing by my ancestors, grand-mothers, mothers, aunties, and future generations, I know that change is happening. It is a slow process but the experience is fundamental to our mother earth. We will keep up the fight and remain strong and as powerful as we always have been.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to say that when I first met Andrea in 2012 I prophetically described her as ‘A Canadian Indigenous Leader of Tomorrow’ and I wrote about her and said: “I have seen some of the leaders of tomorrow, and they include women like Andrea Landry. Rest assured…our future is in very capable hands!”. Andrea had ALREADY become a Project Access success story even before her second year training was conducted. My sense about this young lady and her destiny in the future of First Nations of Canada has already come true, but the best that Andrea has in her heart and soul to share with the rest of the world is YET to come! Here is one star who’s rise up into the pantheon of native leaders worthy of renown you do NOT want to miss.
Damon Gerard Corrie
Founder & President of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations,
Co-Founder and President of the registered non-profit Caribbean Amerindian Development Organisation (CADO) – which was itself created as a direct result of 2012 Project Access Training – the motto of which is “Dedicated to the Preservation and Promotion of Amerindian Cultural Heritage, and the Hemispheric National Implementation of Internationally recognised Rights of Indigenous Peoples”
He is also the CARICOM Commissioner on the Indigenous Commission for Communication Technologies in the Americas (ICCTA), a member of the Working Group on the American Draft Declaration with the Organisation of American States (OAS) since 2000; and a registered participant of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) since 2008, and Chief of the Barbados chapter of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP)