The history of Idle No More is well known to most by now. Springing from disquietude over the Canadian government’s refusal to acknowledge Aboriginal treaty concerns in Bill C-45, four women in Saskatchewan—Jessica Gordon, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdams and Nina Wilsonfeld—launched what began as a grassroots action, but has quickly grown into a national movement.
Idle No More evolved from generations of misunderstanding and distrust, between those who settled this country and those who first called it home. And in the aftermath of the federal government’s refusal to meet with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the movement culminated in a day of action on December 10—a day that included teach-ins and rallies across the country.
Their request? To simply have their concerns acknowledged.
The much-publicized hunger strike by Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence gathered steam after the AFN was denied entry to the House of Commons. The voices of Canada’s indigenous people may finally be getting heard, if not by the federal government, then at least by those around the world watching closely.
And while Canadians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, now march side-by-side in solidarity, a gulf remains, one that can only be spanned by acknowledging and respecting the other’s experience. The first step is to listen.
In that spirit, Megaphone asked writers who participate in our community writing program to tell our readers about the Aboriginal experience in Canada. This week, we share their words.
-Megaphone Managing Editor Kevin Hollett