Posted by on Jan 12, 2013 in Featured, News

Standing in Unity with Ceremony #IdleNoMore by Andrea Landry

Standing in Unity with Ceremony
Andrea Landry

January, 11th. 2013

The Indigenous people from across the country are standing in solidarity to call out the federal government to honour First Nation treaties. What began as a social media hashtag “Idle No More” has gone viral into an international Indigenous grassroots movement. Supporters of Idle No More say they want their voices heard and the federal government is not listening.

A meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the National Chief, and selected Chiefs of Canada has occurred on January, 11th 2013. This integrity of this meeting gained attention through the honourable doings of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike.  Through this meeting, it was implied that there will be a carefully constructed resolution on the healing of the relationship between Crown, the federal government of Canada, and Indigenous peoples across the country.  Yet, the truth shone through after four difficult hours of intense discussions.  Areas such as building the recognition of inherent treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada, providing enhanced oversight from the Prime Minister’s Office on Aboriginal matters, and strengthening the relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples in Canada. Yet, these words were similarly compiled during previous meetings between the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leadership in Canada.

Chief Theresa Spence, from a small community called Attiwapiskat, has become the iconic role-model within the movement. On January 11th, she was on day 30 of her hunger strike. Her message was strong in standing in solidarity with her position and her cause, along with the Indigenous peoples in Canada, and Creator. Her statement was simple and peaceful; that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston meet with all chiefs and leadership to discuss the issues together. Yet, two separate meetings occurred. The meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper shifted the unified voice within the Assembly of First Nation. With regions boycotting the meeting, in honour and support of Chief Theresa Spence and the Indigenous peoples in Canada, only a small number went into the afternoon meeting.

Yet, outside was a massive movement. The momentum and power within the crowd was felt through the white washed walls of the so-called parliament buildings in the city of Ottawa. The drums connected with the heart-beats and the songs connected with the spirit of the people. Their message was simple, that there inherent treaty rights would be recognized and that consultation processes be better implemented in regards to Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Where is the Crown in all of this? Based on the inherent treaty rights bestowed upon Indigenous peoples in Canada by Creator and the ancestors, the Crown holds a duty to fulfill their role within the signed treaties. Yet the Governor General, David Johnston, barely complied with meeting with all chiefs and leadership during the whirlwind of events which occurred in Ottawa. Upon the meeting, David Johnston gave Chief Theresa Spence a bowl of fish soup. Yet, there were statements formulating in the crowd where there was complete dishonouring and abolishment of following traditional protocol involving the wampum. The truth laid in that wampum, and that relationship with the Governor General, the respect has been missing for far too long.

The Indigenous peoples in Canada recognize this deconstructed and colonial relationship that is deeply indoctrinated into society. The process of consultation had never occurred before, yet the time is now for consultation to truly begin. This movement will not end until the consultation begins. As designated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is unacceptable that there has been no free, prior, and informed consent in regards to any legislative changes by the federal government which will affect Indigenous peoples in Canada. By marching in solidarity on Ottawa on January, 11th, 2013, the unified hearts, minds, and spirits of Indigenous peoples created an impact on naming the importance of this issue by not only the federal government, but the Crown and internationally as well.

The Idle No More campaign has gained international attention, alongside support from Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, and other key stakeholders in Human Rights. Through this campaign, the political structures forced upon the Indigenous peoples in Canada are no longer assimilating their minds. By standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, we recognize the power of our people.

The power is ceremony, the ceremony of connecting with our land, the ceremony of connecting with our water, the ceremony of women, men, children, and elders standing together; unification. This ceremony thrives through our blood, it thrives within our souls, and it connects us to our ancestors and our future generations. But most importantly, it connects us to Creator. The one guiding us on this journey of transformative change and the deconstruction of colonial constructs forced upon our people for years.

-Written by Andrea Landry who was an organizer for IdleNoMore #J11 Ottawa, a powerful, unprecedented sharing of unity in action at Parliament Hill -Ottawa, Canada in conjunction with Prime Minister Harper’s meeting with 1st Nations.