About 50 people participated in Castlegar’s Idle No More rally which took place Monday starting at Spirit Square. The group heard a short speech from organizer Jessica MacLeod about the movement, and then after a prayer, marched around the downtown core.
“We are gathering here today on the day that Members of Parliament are returning to the (House of) Commons. We are here to greet them with a very strong message with the movement in solidarity of Idle No More,” said MacLeod who hails from the Badger family in Northern Alberta Sucker Creek Treaty 8 First Nations.
She told those gathered that the movement was a peaceful one, speaking out against the government’s treatment of treaty rights.
“We are here to bring light to the disrespectful views of the government towards the environment, including our air, land, water,” said MacLeod. “As well as the oppressive and assimilating views towards Aboriginal people, treaty rights and indigenous rights as well. We’re here to say, ‘No More! Enough is Enough!'”
Organizers collected names for a petition which they will send to the federal government. The protest is about sending a message to the government and also to educate people about the rights of treaty people.
“We’re hoping to further the education process,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of questions about the movement: what’s it about? what does it mean? what’s your view? Honestly, within the solidarity of the movement, education is a huge factor. Learning about the history. If you learn about that, and understand that, you’ll know what Idle No More is about. As Treaty nations we are made to be accountable for every penny; for every person; for everything. It’s time now for the government to be accountable to those treaties and that’s what we hope to bring light to.”
MacLeod’s father attended a residential school, and she says it’s time to act.
“I’m one generation later,” she said. “I’m grown, I’m educated. I now can say, without any shame, that I am Indigenous; I am Cree woman. I think that movement is deep within many Indigenous people that are realizing it has been a long time brewing.”