Activist Communiqué

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Krystalline Kraus is an intrepid journalist and veteran reporter for rabble.ca since its 2001 beginnings. She needs neither a red cape nor safety goggles to fly into her latest political assignment. She often live-tweets from events -- almost exclusively First Nations and environmental issues. You can follow her on Twitter @krystalline_k.

Activist Communique: From the warm heart of the Arctic, solidarity for Idle No More

| January 29, 2013
Photo by James Winters

The Idle No More movement began on the cold November prairies and has spread like wildfire across Canada, North American and across the globe in defence of Indigenous rights and Mother Earth.

And where there have been Saami people, there has been solidarity demonstrations; from California, Alaska, Minneapolis, Ontario, Alberta (where First Nations, Metis and Inuit people are colonized) and in nations such as Finland, Sweden, Norway (where the Saami are colonized).

Described by Pacific Saami (PSS) member and Pacific Lutheran University Professor, Troy Storfjell, “The Saami are the Indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, sometimes referred to as ‘Lapps’ or ‘Laplanders.’ There are nine Saami languages. Saami participated in the co-founding of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in the 1970s, and participate in a number of global Indigenous forums and organizations today.”

Indigenous people must show solidarity with one another in the battle against colonialism. Ours is a great fire. This is imperative to our collective survival.

There is a saying for us: “Beaivi, áddjásan veahket ja buorit min odne!" Mother Sun, help heal us today - we are still here!

While participating in an Idle No More round dance at the West Edmonton Mall on January 13, 2013, where 3,000 participated, Saami-Canadian Anni Mukkala-Stinn stated, “I am awed by this. There is an amazing indigenous movement afoot. I feel like I am being cradled in the arms of ancestors who are smiling in great affection when I watch this. The energy it exudes is amazing.”

In Canada, the Idle No More movement’s original focus has been resisting the implementation of Bill C-45, Bill C S-2, Bill S-212, Bill S-8, Bill C-428 and Bill C-27. The Idle No More campaign – not that First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities have ever been idle for 500 years – will resist colonialism for as long as the rivers flow, the sweet grass grows and the sun shines.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has stopped her fast and chiefs are meeting with representatives from the opposition parties but that does not stop the movement.

Solidarity is needed now more than ever.

With the spreading of these wings, strong Saami-American woman activists such as Ellen Marie Jensen have been organizing solidarity demos in Norway. Sweden and Finland have also held Idle No More rallies in their respective cities, both in Sapmi and colonial territory.

Jensen helps host a new Facebook group titled Idle No More Sapmi

állut sat nallá = Idle No More.

Saami-Canadian, Liz Carson, speaks extensively of the dynamic of Saami-First Nation relations and the need for solidarity on Turtle Island, "As North American Saami peoples, it is my belief that we are in a unique position with regards to the Idle No More movement. We are settler peoples in Canada and the United States, many of whom have been quite assimilated and socialized into dominant ways of being and have experienced the privilege that accompanies this.

Another dimension of our position with regards to Idle No More is related to our ancestors being Indigenous peoples of Northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula, recognized and protected by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Conventions.

Thus, many of us wish to support our Indigenous brothers and sisters in North America based on our understanding of parallel processes of oppression, boarding schools, state assimilation programs, and cultural genocide attempts that have impacted Saami peoples in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

As North American Saami peoples, whose ancestors share a value system based on connection to land, spirit, and relationship, we often feel connected with Indigenous peoples here and many of us work in solidarity with movements such as Idle No More."

Saami from the North American West Coast  - Tacoma Washington -  also heeded the Idle No More call for a global day of action and held a small rally. The Pacific Saami released a statement: "We, the members of Pacific Sámi Searvi (Sámi Americans in th.”e Pacific Northwest) stand together with our Sámi brothers and sisters in solidarity with the Idle No More movement

Mukkala-Stinn stated, "Saami who have come to live in Canada have often been invisible within the colonial conscience, our indigenous heritage a mist in the river of colonialism. It is time those of us who identify as Saami in Canada and North America to stand in solidarity with our First Nations cousins. Our world view of life and that which supports it calls us to take a firm stand on the wellness of all that is. I stand in solidarity with Idle No More."

On January 11, 2013, the Saami Parliament  issued a statement of support for Idle No More, “I want from Sámediggi side to express our support and sympathy to the indigenous struggle in Canada. In particular, I wish to express my concern for the health of Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat nation, which now close to a month, went on hunger strike in protest against the narrow social and economic plight of Canada’s indigenous people live. I see it as natural that this will be one of the topics I will take up when I meet Canada’s Minister of Health in the Arctic Council 20 January,” said President Egil Olli.

Idle No More demonstration was held on January 28, 2013 in Romsa/Tromsø and Kautokeino, Norway, where the two groups held a solidarity rallies spearheaded by the Saami community.  

Piera Jovnna Somby from Norway commented, “We Sami people support the rights issue of our brothers and sisters, the Canadian indigenous people, and show our solidarity to this important demonstration Idle No More movement!”

Egil Olli president of the Saami Parliament stated earlier this month, “Idle No More and the indigenous movement we now see in Canada is a strong signal to the authorities telling them that this unwillingness to accomplish indigenous rights cannot be accepted. Indigenous peoples have a right to maintain their identity and culture, gain respect for historical accords settled with the state, right to their traditional lands and resources and, right to efficient participation in decision-making processes that concerns them.”

“The Saami Parliament encourages the Canadian government, through consultations and in cooperation with the indigenous peoples of the country to, as soon as possible carry out effective steps in order to adjust suitable conditions for implementation of indigenous rights in accordance with accepted international standards,” ended Egil Olli.

Since Harper omnibus bill concerns Canada’s environment – including the fragile and beautiful Arctic -- further alliances with Circumpolar Arctic people will be needed to protect the land and its Indigenous people from colonization.

Julie Whitehorn noted, “With alarming losses to Arctic Sea ice (the scantest ice cap in recorded history), the Saami are not only vulnerable to global warming (even as oil companies anticipate increased exploration), but uniquely poised to address it.

In solidarity with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people across Canada, and in defense of the Arctic, we Saami will not be idle.

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