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More than 2,000 people gathered at Parliament Hill on Friday June 21, 2013, to kick off Sovereignty Summer — a joint campaign between Idle No More and Defenders of the land.
The CBC is reporting that it “has learned that Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, met with Harper in the prime minister’s office in Langevin Block on Thursday to discuss progress since a Jan. 11 meeting that followed growing nation-wide protests and a fast by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.”
No outcome of the meeting was publicly announced.
The mood at Parliament Hill was of defiance and of happiness as friends came together to sing and drum. Eager to disprove rumours that Idle No More is dead, many professed that they’re willing to step up when the time comes to hit the streets again or support blockades — like the current Swamp Line 9 anti-tar sands blockade in Hamilton, Ontario.
At Friday’s rally, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said, “I can tell from having talked to hundreds of representatives of First Nations that that frustration is palpable, it’s growing, especially amongst the young people.”
“We’re going to see a lot of activity on this file during the summer … I’m quite concerned that it will be a hot summer on the native file across Canada, on the aboriginal file. Mr. Harper’s going to have only himself to blame,” he said.
Another major Sovereignty Summer action has been the anti-shale/anti-fracking demonstrations by the Mi’kmaq and their allies in New Brunswick.
Idle No More was started by four female activists back in November 2012 to show their disgust at the lack of meaningful dialogue between the Harper government and First Nations communities across Canada. At issue were Bill C-45 and the loss of environmental protection legislation.
In a January 10, 2012, press release, Idle No More said, “As a grassroots movement, clearly no political organization speaks for Idle No More…Furthermore, this is not just an Aboriginal Canadian movement. These pipeline projects will be stretching beyond borders carving through critical ecosystems and landscapes in the states. Canada’s large oil reserves have attracted industry to exploit, and profit.”
Idle No More and Defenders of the land called for a Sovereignty Summer in Canada for 2013. Spokesperson Clayton Thomas-Muller stated, “Communities are getting ready to make a very significant point over the summer.”
Jointly, their call to action states:
The Defenders of the Land and Idle No More issued this call to action last March.
We demand that Canada, the provinces and the territories:
1: Repeal provisions of Bill C-45 (including changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act, which infringe on environmental protections, Aboriginal and Treaty rights) and abandon all pending legislation which does the same.
2: Deepen democracy in Canada through practices such as proportional representation and consultation on all legislation concerning collective rights and environmental protections, and include legislation which restricts corporate interests.
3:In accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ principle of free, prior, and informed consent, respect the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to development on their territory.”
Of particular focus this week is the blockade — on its fifth day as of Monday June 25, 2013 — of Enbridge Corporation Line 9. I will be updating information about the action as it rolls in.
According to a Council of Canadians’ statement released June 21, “Hamilton Line 9 is ‘digging in and occupying Enbridge’s North Westover Pump Station’ in a move ‘to stop construction in preparation for the reversal of their Line 9 Pipeline.'”
They add, “We are establishing a camp on Enbridge property in the middle of the Beverly Swamp, the largest remaining forested wetland in Southern Ontario. The health of this wetland is crucial to the health of the Spencer Creek, which feeds Cootes Paradise, the beautiful marshland that forms the western end of Lake Ontario. Protecting the water is vitally important — once water is poisoned, it can’t be undone.”
The demonstrators at the Line 9 blockade received an injuction against their demonstration and will decide whether or not they will continue. In a press release, “The injunction means our strategies for how to stop this project need to adapt,” said Elysia Petrone. “Some of us will leave the site to continue demonstrating across the street, while others have decided its necessary to lock themselves down to remain on the site as long as possible.”
For more information, please see: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/