Idle No More Marks One Year Since First National Day of Action

Idle No More protesters made their way from Victoria Island on January 28, 2013.

Idle No More marks one year since first national day of action

One year after the first nation-wide day of action, Idle No More supporters are marching in Ottawa once again.

A group made its way from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill Tuesday morning, its sights set on speaking out against the government’s First Nation education reform plan.

Speakers included Charlie Angus, Elizabeth May, Romeo Saganash and Theresa Spence, the chief of Attawapiskat First Nation who began her six-week hunger strike a year ago.

The rally was smaller than those seen when Idle No More began, but shows that although the movement has been quieter, it certainly still has life.

On Dec. 10, 2012, a movement that had been brewing within aboriginal communities for some time burst onto the national stage. Idle No More marks its official birthday as Nov. 10, 2012 when founders Jessica Gordon, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdam and Nina Wilson held a teach-in event in Saskatoon. Dec. 10, however, was the day those outside that community got to see the renewed activism of First Nation, Inuit and Metis people in Canada.

The four founders were named by Foreign Policy magazine this month as being among the globe’s top 100 thinkers for “demanding that Canada not leave its First Nations behind.”

“I’m humbled. Seeing the list of amazing people, I’m honoured,” McAdam told CBC Aboriginal.

There has been a no shortage of causes for Idle No More supporters to rally around over the last year — from the crisis in Attawapiskat, to the revelation that nutritional experiments were conducted on First Nation students, to the battle against fracking in New Brunswick.

The rally in Ottawa focused on the controversial First Nation Education Act, a piece of legislation from the Conservative government that would change the way First Nation schools are funded and operated. Aboriginal leaders have said the act puts too much control in the hands of government officials and is an uncomfortable reminder of the residential school era.

“The residential schools era is a deep scar on the national soul of this country. Every day, our families bear the trauma of this past. Honouring this reality, respecting our rights as Nations and as peoples demands clear actions to achieve reconciliation,” wrote Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo in a recent letter.

In that letter, he outlined the five conditions the act requires to be successful.

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