Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Idle No More - It Matters on Christmas

Idle No More - ONE Heartbeat - Edmonton

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely heard of Idle No More. Or, at the very least, heard or seen those words in some context. If you have to ask the question, Idle No More is a movement originating with Canada's Indigenous peoples. It began as a reaction to the passing of Bill C-45 (also known as the "Omnibus Bill") which unilaterally affects Treaty agreements concerning protected water without the Harper government having had any consultations with First Nations.

Idle No More Flash Mob Round Dance at WEM

However, in the rallies and flash mobs that have been springing up all over the country and beyond, Idle No More has gained momentum that is relevant for all Canadians. This isn't just about Aboriginal rights, and it isn't just about Bill C-45 in and of itself. It is about the government being allowed to have a sweeping hand and changing laws without consultation, in effect taking away our democratic rights as a society. In that regard, what affects one group affects us all. One of the central issues to Idle No More is protected water - water is sacred to First Nations, but it is important to all of us. Without water, we cannot survive. As well, Idle No More is relevant to non-Aboriginals because all of us who were born here or are immigrants owe the existence of our country to those who settled the land long before we were here.

Idle No More

When the first Idle No More march and rally took place in Edmonton on December 10, around 2000 people showed up at Churchill Square. The energy was incredible. Unfortunately, an apparent media blackout did not show the rest of the city (and country) just how intense the burgeoning movement was. There was little to no media coverage at all. However, Idle No More in many ways is a social media revolution - people's photos, tweets, Facebook updates, videos on YouTube, and other efforts has made Idle No More go viral and international.

The video above, which I shot at West Edmonton Mall on December 18, was of one of the first round dance flash mobs held in shopping malls across Canada. Within days it already had tens of thousands of viewers and the views continue to grow. People are commenting on it from all over the world. This is something that traditional media simply cannot accomplish.

Idle No More

You may be wondering why I am writing this on Christmas Day. Well, as many of us enjoy a big dinner and sweet treats, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is in her fifteenth day of a hunger strike. She wants to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss treaty issues and to negotiate better living conditions for many of the nation's Indigenous population. Senator Patrick Brazeau attempted to meet with her yesterday - showing up unannounced on Christmas Eve after slagging her on national television last week, saying she was not "setting a good example" for Aboriginal youth. If being willing to die for your beliefs is not being a good example, I want to know what is.

Solidarity is now coming in from the United States and around the world. Idle No More is a movement whose time has come. Seeing all of these beautiful Aboriginal people standing up for the land that is rightfully theirs is awesome and inspirational. More and more "migrants" and "settlers" are joining in - after all, this is really about human rights and the environment at its core.

Idle No More - ONE Heartbeat - Edmonton

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may the new year bring revolution.

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