Idle No More Meets Carré Rouge

National Day of Action Launches Montreal Idle No More Street Protest

  • Demonstrators from the Quebec student movement joined with the Idle No More protest the night of Jan. 16. Photo Andrew Brennan

Amidst trains, highways and border crossings across Canada being shut down for a nationwide day of action, around 200 people paraded through the Montreal night on Jan. 16 in solidarity with the Idle No More movement.

But while the wall of banners leading the demonstration decried Stephen Harper and his Conservative government’s approach to native rights issues, many protesters were sporting the icon of another movement—the carré rouge of the student protests.

“We are here for a lot of different reasons, [showing] solidarity with native people in the Idle No More movement,” said Brice Dansereau-Olivier, a carré rouge supporter who protested against university tuition hikes last year.

And with the Quebec government’s higher education summit reconvening in February, many who were in the student strike movement last year also wanted to get out and “show we’re still here,” according Dansereau-Olivier.

Intermingling with the red squares were red feathers symbolizing support for Idle No More, which have popped up at prior protests in the city.

Concordia student Tania Giovannoni says she and other student protesters felt the need to stand up against ecological threats from the government after reuniting at a rally to protest Plan Nord, the natural resource development program launched launched by Jean Charest’s Liberal government in May 2011.

“I’m really happy with how Idle No More has been happening,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to bring new information.”

Among the many groups with varying messages to proclaim, at least one demonstrator was not so ready to stand behind the Idle No More banner, however.

A man identifying himself as native but who did not wish to be publicly identified was unimpressed with the protest, seeing few First Nations people among the protesters.

Raising a journal opened into a sign reading, “Idle as much as you want,” the man said he was not a supporter of the indigenous rights movement, and nothing more on the subject.

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