The Idle No More protest movement will host a first event in Revelstoke on New Year’s Day at the Revelstoke Community Centre starting at 1 p.m.
Organizer Michelle Cole invited everyone to attend. “It’s a very simple gathering of people in support of Idle No More and [Attawapiskat] Chief [Theresa] Spence and our land,” Cole said in an interview with the Times Review.
The Idle No More protest movement began in December, inspired partially by the hunger strike by Spence, who is seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The grassroots movement focuses on ongoing issues with treaty rights and also focuses on the federal government’s omnibus Bill C-45, which has been severely criticized for hollowing out environmental laws
“[It’s] just another effort to strip the land of its resources and beaver out,” Cole said of the legislation. Bill C-45 included changes to the Navigable Water Protection Act, removing the vast majority of protected rivers, lakes and streams from the legislation.
“This whole thing about how we can go from 2,500 protected rivers one day and only having 82 the next – that’s just mind boggling,” Cole said.
Chief Spence is in the 20th day of her hunger strike. The movement has sparked protests and demonstrations across the country.
“It’s about sustainable human relationships, that’s what Idle No More is about, and moving towards a fair and reasonable approach to governing Canada,” Cole said.
The gathering in Revelstoke is, “open to aboriginals and settlers alike,” Cole said. “It’s an open forum. I’m weaving the basket. I’ve invited people to bring drums and placards and their families. It’s a peaceful gathering – there’s a couple of us practicing a few songs. I’ll open with aboriginal protocol – we’ll just see how it goes from there.”
Cole is the co-chair of the Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee in Revelstoke, but said she was organizing the event independently of that role.
It’s hoped the event will raise awareness about First Nations in the Revelstoke area. “This was a very thriving aboriginal community at the time of contact,” Cole said.