Winter is often seen as a quiet time in Canada. In one area, however, there is a major event right now: the emergence of a new and powerful movement of Indigenous people across Canada: “Idle No More.” It grew out of resistance to the environmental destruction caused by the extraction of natural resources and the abrogation of Indigenous rights and environmental laws by the Stephen Harper administration, especially through Bill C-45.
After a long series of protests, rallies, letters, flash mobs, and highway and railway blockages—with no response from the government—a hunger strike by Attawapiskit Chief Theresa Spence forced Harper’s hand. He agreed to a meeting with numerous Indigenous groups. That Jan. 11 meeting decided little except to have more talks. Nonetheless, it was open, unlike the previous closed-door negotiations. Many are skeptical in that everyone knows that Harper does not negotiate in good faith, but a resulting larger movement may lead to change.
The actions of the Canadian federal government are part of a plan to transform Canada into a world economic power in energy production and mineral extraction. To do so, Harper will have to steamroll over the Canadian people, which he will, eventually, be unable to do. The Idle No More movement has spread to Alaska and may spread elsewhere in the U. S., including to those fighting the Keystone XL pipeline through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. We can expect the movement to grow, not just in size, but in ideas.