A Legislative Road Map As Idle No More Revs Up

Aboriginal Rights | Indigenous Advocacy | Resources and Environment

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What is “Idle No More”?  Why are roads and railways being blocked? Why is Chief Spence starving herself to death? Where is this grassroots campaign going?  This blog provides some links to a resource explaining the legislation which is triggering the campaign, and a little commentary.

My OKT colleagues and I are asking ourselves questions about Idle No More and many of our clients, colleagues, friends and neighbours are asking us those questions, too.

Like many of you, I have been watching in awe as the wave of Idle No More events rolled out, first across Canada and now around the world.  I have been following, with concern and respect, as Chief Theresa Spence continues on a heroic hunger strike as her heart-felt response to the gross lack of respect shown First Nations communities in dire crisis. I have been talking to my colleagues as we collectively monitor the amazing Idle No More grassroots campaign and its incredible momentum. I have been sharing notes with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal colleagues and friends as we discuss our collective sense that a new iron-willed resolve underlies the determination of Aboriginal people in these “Idle No More” events. As a social media user, I have found myself at round dances or events organized on a day’s notice, spontaneously erupting in public spaces like malls and road.

And I have been receiving constant questions. Perhaps you have, too.  Questions like, “What is Idle No More about?”, “What is Chief Spence doing?” and “Why is all this happening?.” And one question I keep hearing over and over again is, “What are the changes to the federal legislation changes that are triggering concerns for First Nations?”

It is also clear that there are strong and consistent messages in the Idle No More events:

  • First Nations have ‘had enough’ of unilateral and destructive legislative changes that attempt to destroy their rights and identity;
  • There is a current suite of federal legislative amendments that take the destruction of aboriginal and environmental rights to a new level; and
  • The undemocratic way in which these legislative reforms are being pushed through the Parliament, and the resulting decimation of many of Canada’s federal environmental protections, should be a matter of tremendous concern to all – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

In response to the questions being raised about the proposed legislative changes, OKT prepared a two-page summary explaining each of the pieces of proposed legislation and why it is of concern.

Please feel free to copy and circulate this summary. Here is a link to it: A Summary of Current Federal Legislative Amendments Affecting First Nations

If you are interested in more in-depth analysis, you can email me at lland@oktlaw.com, and I will send you a ‘Briefing Book’ that contains a summary of each piece of legislation, where it is at in the Parliamentary process, and the concerns about that piece of legislation.

By Lorraine Land

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