NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Next steps for Idle No More
Talk of blocking road to diamond mines

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The next move for participants in the Idle No More movement seem unclear during the fallout of an Assembly of First Nations meeting with the Harper government in Ottawa last Friday.

Organizers of Idle No More remain adamant demonstrations will continue until there are further discussions on native rights violations in Canada, finally implementing treaty agreements and protecting lands and waters from short-sighted development projects.

A faction of chiefs, including Gordon Peters, the grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, are calling for First Nations to block transportation routes across the country on Dec. 16.

At Friday's protest, former Dene national chief Noeline Villebrun alluded to this event, saying that the next step for protesters would be to "block the road to the mines."

However, Dene national Chief Bill Erasmus said Monday he had heard of no such event, although he did not rule out this form of more aggressive protest in the North.

"I don't want to theorize on that. We've never done that here but it is possible," he said. "That would have to happen with the concurrence of our leadership. It's something we need to talk about."

To date, all Idle No More demonstrations in the territory have been peaceful, making the role of the RCMP to help organizers facilitate these events and ensure public safety, said Sgt. Barry Ledoux, who is in charge of aboriginal policing for the territory.

"Everyone has the right to a peaceful protest and the freedom of expression. What we are there for is to ensure the safety of participants and onlookers. Our role is to remain impartial," he said.

The Dene Nation plans to hold an information session this Thursday to educate the public on issues faced by native peoples in the North and throughout Canada, said Erasmus.

Most lands in the NWT are subject to Treaty 8 or Treaty 11, and neither of these documents surrender native lands to the state, said Erasmus.

"We were never conquered," he said.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.