There's something very important happening in Canada right now. Earlier in November, four Aboriginal women in Saskatchewan got sick of how little was being done about yet another large bill being pushed through parliament by the current Conservative government, making sweeping changes to large numbers of laws without any meaningful input from invested parties (i.e., *ALL* of us!).
In this case, Bill C-45, which is set to become law as of December 10th, amongst its many effects has also drastically reduced the number of protected waterways in Canada and accelerated the process by which reserve lands held by Aboriginal nations can be surrendered.
These provisions have weakened Canada's environmental protections (we've also just become the first country to officially withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol) and further undermined the relationship (what relationship?) between the Canadian federal government and the nations of Original People in Canada, by failing to include them as equals in the discussion to make fundamental changes on issues covered by what were meant to be treaties between sovereign nations.
These four women started a Facebook page under the name "Idle No More", to keep themselves motivated. Their actions struck a chord and although the bill was ultimately passed, nationwide rallies have been held since December 10th, with a huge round of demonstrations planned for tomorrow as well, not only in Canada, but also the US, UK, and Egypt (and perhaps more places).
Also since December 10th, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike to protest the fact that a year later, her northern community is still in a housing crisis and Prime Minister Harper still will not meet with her and her fellow Aboriginal leaders to deal with it. A number of protestors have also been doing hunger strikes in solidarity.
Solidarity for this movement has also been shown by a number of not specifically Aboriginal groups, including trade unions, environmental groups, and Occupy Canada. The mainstream media was very slow to cover the movement at first, but in the last week that seems to be changing.
It is hard to put into words why this is so important without going on a long historical and political rant as well. But, honestly, it's important for the same reason that all of these movements—Arab Spring, Occupy, the Quebec student protests, hell, students revolutions all over the world and throughout history! The million man march, Stonewall, you get my drift—have been important. I don't need to go into the details of Canadian-Aboriginal relations or the nuances of our current political milieu to capture what it is that resonates about angry, fed-up people who are nonetheless full of love and hope taking to the streets in an effort to connect with people who will feel the same injustice as they do, and fight with them to end it.
Please, show your solidarity with IdleNoMore, whether it's joining a demonstration, tweeting a supportive message with the #IdleNoMore hashtag (as ever, social media has played a huge role in facilitating this movement), or taking a moment to read some articles, educate yourself further, help combat the misinformation that is still being spread about Aboriginal people in Canada, and pass hope along.
I'll leave it with this video of one of the first rallies in the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan:
[description: video and photo-montage of Indigenous protestors in the streets of a Canadian city in winter, holding protest signs and marching, set to the song "One Tribe" by the Black Eyed Peas. The introductory statement, by a single Aboriginal man, is, "We are here for one voice, one reason only, and that's to say no to this legislation. What we are going to do, and I've been honoured to speak on all your behalf to let you all know, to communicate that we are going to occupy the street, permit or not. (crowd cheers) So have your cameras ready to record this day. This is only one day. The work begins from here. What better time than now? It's time to wake up this city. It's time to wake up this country. We are here to act with common sense, decency, and integrity. (cars honking) Because our human rights have been violated and will continue to be violated if you stand idle. Are you going to stand idle anymore? (crowd shouts, "No!")".]
WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE.