“I had no idea that history was being made. I was just tired of giving in,” – Rosa Parks.
There is something happening in Canada right now that if it were to occur in places like the Middle East or parts of Asia it could be characterized as the beginning of a revolution.
Unlike Egypt and Syria, where the Arab Spring rose from those who were tired of giving in to overt oppression, what is happening here with the Idle No More movement is a battle against a systemic marginalization of an entire population of people through the imperialistic framework long entrenched in our history by a government that cares more about staying in power than making people’s lives better.
First Nations people, like those who came out in Whistler on Friday (Dec. 28) and Tuesday (Jan. 1) to demonstrate in support of Idle No More, are not only tired of being subjugated, they are doing something about it.
The movement is outside politics, which is why it is truly grassroots, and is a culmination of centuries of being treated less than equal by a system designed to suppress the human rights of those who were on this land before anyone else. It is easier for those in power to strip First Nations lands of resources without compensation or consultation if they are marginalized and voiceless.
However, now that they are speaking out, some could say it was inevitable that First Nations peoples would find the collective voice to put forward a sustained and coordinated expression of their frustrations and assertion of their rights.
One of the reasons for this is that more and more the access to social media sites like Facebook are connecting people with one another. It has been instrumental in the Idle No More movement, allowing those who have had enough to connect with one another and organize. Hopefully the momentum invigorates others to get involved and put the people back into our democracy.
While Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike is not part of Idle No More, it has been closely associated with the movement. Spence’s efforts resonate with many in Canada who feel their voices are not being heard by government either.
Since Dec. 11, the leader of that beleaguered community in Northern Ontario has been on a hunger strike. Her only demand — that Prime Minister Stephen Harper meet with First Nations chiefs to have a discussion.
Harper’s apparent lack of response whatsoever to Spence’s efforts speaks volumes about a government that is more concerned with being in power than governing this country in a responsible and respectful way. Indeed it is his government’s actions through legislation like Bill C-45 and even last year’s omnibus budget bill that has spurred such a collective resistance.
This grassroots movement is also starting to go beyond Canada’s First Nations, and its momentum building, as there are many more in who are frustrated by how the federal Conservatives are sacrificing the land, water and wildlife for business interests and resource extraction.
It is interesting because in opinion Harper is handling this situation all wrong. He forgets himself entirely, he works for the people of Canada and they are beginning to collectively express their frustrations with him. He may have a majority government, but only 25 per cent of Canadians voted for him. The remaining majority out there who didn’t support his mandate could kick him out of power in the next election.
But that’s just the problem. He is treating this like a political game, when really it is about doing the right thing and those out there who want their elected officials to work with others to make this nation greater are increasingly becoming idle no more.