Indigenous resurgence and Idle No More

What is Idle No More?

Idle No More is a movement where Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples have stood up together to say they will no longer be idle and silent to the injustices by the current Canadian government against Indigenous peoples and the land, waters and air that Canada and Indigenous peoples depend upon for their way of life, whether it’s for resource extraction and exportation, or for traditional land use and ways of life.

While the name originated with four women and became widespread through social media, the movement itself is an extension of actions, protests, rallies, demonstrations and stands that have been happening between Indigenous peoples and the institute of Canada (and other colonial governments) since contact and colonization.

The name is a bit of a misnomer, as it implies that Indigenous and like-minded people have been inactive or dormant up until now. To be Idle No More means for all to stand up together as a cohesive unit to protect what is vital to all peoples.

Words from Chief Shining Turtle

“These Idle No More drums are not just for us: they beat for you because the legislation we are protesting does not just harm us – it hurts you and your children and your grandchildren. This is not about your Aboriginal neighbours – it is about ‘justice’ for you, too. The “Omnibus” budget bills change the law in ways that will forever harm the water and earth that we all rely on for life.

“I cannot tell you what path to follow. I cannot tell you to join our protest. But I can tell you the story of what we know of these legislative changes and how they will forever change our relationship with the land and water. So I ask you to take this story to heart; then it is up to you to decide what to do.

“I can tell you, though, what most concerns me the most about all the changes: put together, they dramatically change how we in Canada will be able to protect and respect the water, the fish, and our fellow creatures. These bills take power away from the public – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – to review and understand and speak out about projects which could harm the environment.”

Legislative changes

  • The federal government passed Bill C-45, changing 44 laws that removed many fish habitat protections and fails to recognize Aboriginal commercial fisheries.
  • The new Navigation Protection Act removed the environmental assessment requirement for all but one percent of Canada’s waterways including key rivers in British Columbia along the path of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
  • Bill C-38 effected more than 70 federal laws without proper parliamentary debate and changed Canada’s federal environmental legislation and protections for water, fish and the environment.
  • Bill C-27 requires First Nation-owned businesses (unlike non-Aboriginal businesses) to publicly report income and expenses, thus undermining competitiveness.


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