Idle No More brings 100 First Nations protesters to Whistler 

Protesters object to federal government changes to Indian Act and national waters protection

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CATHRYN ATKINSON - IDLE NO MORE: Protesters gathered at the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola in Whistler as part of national action against the federal government's treatment of indigenous Canadians.
  • Photo by Cathryn Atkinson
  • IDLE NO MORE: Protesters gathered at the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola in Whistler as part of national action against the federal government's treatment of indigenous Canadians.

One hundred First Nations residents from the Sea to Sky corridor and beyond met to protest federal government treatment of indigenous Canadians as the nationwide Idle No More protest movement came to Whistler on Friday, Dec. 28.

The protesters met at the Blackcomb Excalibur Gondola in Whistler Village at 2 p.m., with some having driven from as far away as the Lower Mainland to take part.

Organizer May Joe of the Lil'wat Nation, along with Mandy Nahanee of the Squamish Nation, decided to arrange the event on Monday after being moved by protests across Canada and by the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat, Ontario.

"I think it was great to see all these people," Joe said, who added that this was the first protest she had ever taken part in, let along organized.

"I was thinking about the land, our land, about the people and the children and the future, how all these decisions affect us, how we have so little say. I just feel that it's unfair. We should be heard."

Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders watched as around 50 drummers played and sang for just under two hours, with speeches by Chief Lucinda Phillips of the Lil'wat Nation and Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation.

Much of the current protest by Idle No More organizers stems from the recent passage of omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, by the federal government and the senate. Bill C-45 includes changes to the Indian Act and also removes federal protective laws from the majority of Canadian waterways, including lakes, rivers and streams.

A national day of protest took place on December 21 in Ottawa, and Idle No More protests have included urban gatherings and blockades across Canada.

Chief Spence has been on hunger strike since Dec. 11, and requests a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston. Her community hit national and international headlines a year ago after its MP, New Democrat Charlie Angus, brought up poverty in the community in Parliament. Spence has been living a teepee on Victoria Island in the Ottawa River, less than a kilometre from Parliament Hill, since she started her fast.

The Idle No More campaign has reached and inspired First Nations people across the country through a website called idlenomore.com and through the use of the Twitter hashtag idlenomore.

For the whole story, plus more photos, check out Pique next week and www.piquenewsmagazine.com

-With files by John French.

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