Local Idle No More Movement Just Beginning
Montrealers Take to the Streets in Global Day of Action
Hundreds of Montrealers sang and danced to vibrant drumbeats as they peacefully weaved through downtown this afternoon as part of a global day of action held in solidarity with the ever-growing Idle No More movement.
The demonstration was timed alongside the long-awaited meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders, along with many other similar demonstrations the around the world.
The event began with an opening prayer at 1:00 p.m., soon evolving into a large round dance outside the Palais du Congrès. Eventually, the crowd began moving its way towards Parc Émilie Gamelin.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Montreal’s crowd of nearly 1,000 people was the second largest in the nation, behind Ottawa’s.
As the group moved up Ste. Catherine St., an onlooker in the doorway of a coffee shop seemed confused about what was going on.
“Isn’t this a native thing?” she asked. “There are so many white people.”
A customer walking out of the café overheard, and clarified, “Yeah—but not just a native thing.”
Video Pierre Chauvin & Leslie Schachter
Anglophones, francophones, red squares and feathers, native and non-native protesters marched together to push for improvement in relations between the Canadian government and First Nations peoples, and in opposition of the federal omnibus Bill C-45.
The new budget bill has been criticized for shaving environmental restrictions, putting Canada’s waters at risk and being harmful to aboriginal land rights.
This spirit of unity amongst participants was one sought after by the event’s organizers—who ask that “all Canadians stand united, as one” in the description of the event’s Facebook page.
“There are lots of people here, and a lot of non-natives supporting us—so I really think that this is a symbol of community action and unity,” said Widia Larivière, one of the event’s organizers and member of Idle No More Quebec.
Larivière says that the Idle No More movement is just beginning here in Montreal, and will continue to grow in the coming weeks.
A fellow organizer, Melissa Molin Dupuis, agreed.
“This is not the end of a race, this is the beginning of a long walk,” said Molin Dupuis to a crowd gathering at the end of the march, which came to a close with a prayer and a song around 4:00 p.m.
“I hope with all my heart that [Harper] regrets waking a bear in the winter.”
For more pictures from the protest visit our Photo Blog page.