The Idle No More community information forum held Jan. 12, 2013 had a turnout of close to 200 people. Frigid temperatures and hungry bellies, from the un-heated gym and the 12-hour fast in support of hunger strikers on Parliament Hill, didn’t quell the excitement and emotion of the day but unfortunately did make it difficult for many to spend the entire day at the hall. However, many did and we raise our hands to all of you who spent the day or even a portion of the day at the event.
Throughout the 12-hour gathering, numerous people demonstrated their support of the movement and worked together as a community of many nations to discuss the importance of Idle No More. In the heart of the grassroots, peoples’ movement, the event was led by the people rather than by any specific organization or government. Citizens of the Burns Lake Band, Lake Babine Nation, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Skin Tyee, Cheslatta, Nee Tahi Buhn, Moricetown, Hagwilget, Stellat’en, Nadleh Whut’en, Nakazdli, Anspayaxw, Gitxsan, Tahltan, Ulkatcho, Chilcoltin, Haida, Blackfoot, and non-Indigenous citizens of the Lakes District and surrounding area participated in the event. Over 50 speakers took to the mic to address the crowd where common themes discussed throughout the day included: the importance of our local culture, language, and traditional values; rebuilding our traditional governing systems; uniting our communities; anti-racism work; developing local food security and the local non-resource extractive economy; protecting our land, air, and water against industry; and more specifically solidifying our stance against pipeline and mining developments. Feedback from the event highlighted the respectful and positive tone that was maintained throughout the day.
Methods to achieve these goals including hosting more events in our community to raise awareness and expand our knowledge base on these subjects. It was also stressed to ensure that we work together as multi-stakeholders to protect our environment for our future generations. Taking active and purposeful measures to connect ourselves and our children to the land, teach them our culture, and language, and the importance of a healthy land-base was seen as critical to not just this movement, but to all of our activities and all of our futures. Also, finding creative and fun ways to involve children and youth was seen as a priority.
D. Brown, T. Brown, R. Charlie, Robert Charlie, Carla Lewis, H. Lewis, P. Goertzen, and C. Patrick