Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:32

Man from Swift Current wants people to Idle No More

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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A man from Swift Current is hoping local residents will show support for the Idle No More grassroots movement.
Shayne Dahl, who grew up in Swift Current, is currently studying towards a doctorate in anthropology at the University of Toronto.

He attended Idle No More events in Ottawa and Toronto during December and he would like to see support for the movement in his hometown.
“People from Swift Current have a big heart and I hope that they would open it up to First Nations people in the community but also throughout Canada and support Idle No More,” he said.
The Idle No More movement started in Saskatchewan two months ago when four women began to organize “teach-ins” in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert in an effort to raise people’s awareness about Bill C-45, a budget omnibus bill, and other federal legislation.
The women — Sylvia McAdam, Jess Gordon, Nina Wilson and Sheelah Mclean — are concerned about the impact of the legislation on First Nation communities, but also on the environment and water resources across Canada.
Through social media the Idle No More initiative rapidly developed into a broad-based grassroots movement with demonstrations taking place across Canada. It gained even more attention after Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence started a hunger strike on Victoria Island near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 11, 2012.
Dahl has been closely following the federal government’s response to the Attawapiskat First Nation housing crisis and the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering on Jan. 24, 2012, to discuss treaty rights and economic development opportunities for First Nations communities.
“I was hopeful, but then I saw things kind of crumble afterwards,” he said. “I think Bill C-45 was the straw that broke the camel’s back and forced everybody into action.”
On Dec. 21, he travelled by bus from Toronto to Ottawa to participate in the Idle No More national day of protest march, which saw participants walk from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill.
“It was very powerful to see so many people united,” he recalled. “It felt really good to be a part of that national crowd.”
Dahl carried a placard to call on people in Australia, New Zealand and the United States to show solidarity with the Idle No More movement.
He described the mood during the march as one of “peaceful resistance.” People were chanting slogans while others made music and there was also a lot of humour in the crowd. At one point, he walked next to Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo.
“He was very meditative and focused,” Dahl observed. “You could tell he was very serious about what was going on.”
He attended another Idle No More event in Toronto with his wife and 15-month-old son on Dec. 30, when a large group of protesters gathered inside the Eaton Centre in the downtown area for a round dance.
“Different people asked me what was going on,” he said. “They didn’t have a clue about the Idle No More movement and other people were just shopping as they normally would, which was kind of interesting to see them totally ignoring this movement.”
There was a festive atmosphere and many people brought their children along to the event. He walked with his son through the crowd as they were round dancing.
“They would all smile when they saw him and he laughed back,” Dahl said. “It was just generally a very peaceful resistance and that’s what Idle No More is all about.”
While the movement provides people with an opportunity to express their frustrations, he felt Idle No More is about something more important — to honour the treaty agreements between First Nations and the Crown.
“There are so much poverty and so many social problems that are consequences of the policies that have been put into place by the Canadian government,” he noted. “So there’s a lot of injustice happening in Canada and people put a blind eye to it. I think it’s about time that they rip those blinders off.”
Dahl will continue to support the Idle No More movement and he is hoping more Canadians will take some effort to learn what it is all about.
“I think they would easily support what’s going on because it’s not just a First Nations issue,” he said. “Clean water affects everybody, but I think people generally care about their fellow Canadians and First Nations people have been under a lot of stress.”

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