photos: Naomi Ibuki

Idle No More Week: Neil Benson

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



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A Sit In Bust At Squatter’s Inn

In naivety I agreed

to meet with minds centred subtly

on averting adversity.


Adversity annihilates

incorporeal existence.


Nothing exists but memories,

the past shelved in bare cupboards

sitting back there not forgotten

in the creases of memory.


It is the taming power of

the peaceful that I remember,

the power of non-interference

and the non-disruptive lifeways

of the Indigenous People.


I think it is self-destructive

to extinguish the distinguished,

to bring an end to spirit ends

the spirit that gives form to life.

Empty-nesting endangers wild

species with extinction by

preventing their propagation.


If the course of nature is diverted

the function dies with it as well.


-By Neil Benson



Lost and Found

I found a title that was lost

This title was hereditary

I lost it to the Dominion.

-By Neil Benson

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