Teach-In Rally Held in Solidarity with Idle No More

Indigenous Issues, Cooperation, Education Discussed

A group of First Nations people lead by Mohawk elder Sedalia Kawennotas Fazio, center, share traditional song and dance at a teach-in held in Montreal in solidarity with Idle No More on Jan. 7. Photo Corey Pool
Melissa Mollen Dupuis, founder of the Idle No More Quebec chapter, speaks at a teach-in at the Point-Saint-Charles YMCA on Jan. 7. Photo Corey Pool
A traditional dancer performs before the closing Thanksgiving Address at a teach-in held on Jan. 7 in solidarity with the Idle No More movement. Photo Corey Pool
Mohawk elder Sedalia Kawennotas Fazio, center, leads the group in a traditional round dance. Photo Corey Pool

About 100 people gathered together at the Point-Saint-Charles YMCA in Montreal on Sunday afternoon for what was being billed as a teach-in event in solidarity with the growing Idle No More movement.

According to the event’s Facebook page, it was held for Native and non-Native people to come together and learn about key issues that are being addressed within the movement.

The teach-in began with the traditional Thanksgiving Address, said by Sedalia Kawennotas Fazio, a Mohawk elder from Kahnawake. She brought the sacred speaking feather, and led the group through various songs and prayer.

With a focus on educating, Fazio also stressed paying it forward.

“If each one of you told two friends about what you learned today, and those two friends told two friends, and so on, then you are spreading the message that you heard today,” said Fazio.

“You’re spreading the positive. Teach them what you’ve learned since this movement began.”

“This is not just a Native problem anymore, it’s a human problem. Now people are waking up.”
—Melissa Mollen Dupuis of Idle No More Quebec

Several hours passed with the telling of traditional Native stories, the history of relations and treaties between the Canadian government and the First Nations people.

Some shared personal stories or asked questions. The idea of collaboration between Native and non-Native peoples was brought up many times, and seemed an important theme throughout the day.

“This is the new collaboration,” said Melissa Mollen Dupuis, one of two founders of the Idle No More Quebec chapter. “I’m really hoping that this movement can be the next step.

“This is not just a Native problem anymore—it’s a human problem. Now people are waking up.”

Fazio and several other Native participants helped close the event with songs, a dance and another telling of the Thanksgiving Address.

This Friday will mark one month of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. Spence has been fasting in solidarity with Idle No More, with the end goal of getting a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Governor General to discuss Crown treaty obligations towards reserve lands.

The Prime Minister has agreed to a meeting with First Nations leaders this Friday, Jan. 11. Spence plans to attend, though she has said her protest will continue until then.

National solidarity protests are scheduled to coincide with the meeting, including one in Montreal to be held at the provincial courthouse at 1 p.m.