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In a continuing attempt to follow the Idle No More movement I thought we could step back a minute and look at the triggering event which was the passage of legislation in Parliament that affects First Nations.
The Harper regime continually counts on most Canadians to tune out what’s happening on Parliament Hill; however, Idle No More is not just a First Nations issue as it affects us all, not least of which is the manner in which Harper abuses the legislative process with private members bills and omnibus legislation.
I spoke with Lorraine Land, a partner at Othuis Kleer Townshend law firm in Toronto. The firm’s lawyers “have extensive experience in Aboriginal work dating back to the early 1970s including: Aboriginal and treaty rights litigation, including Aboriginal title litigation; comprehensive and specific land rights negotiations; inherent Aboriginal government negotiations; advice on development of indigenous governance, legal and territorial systems”, and so on.
Land described the work of the firm, some of the legislation triggering Idle No More, the ramifications of the Harper government’s abuse of power, and the general undemocratic thrust of this government that is again focused on First Nations peoples.
She also touched on the need to seriously revisit the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples undertaken in response to the Oka Resistance in 1990:
Now forgotten by many, last year’s federal budget included $7 to $8 million earmarked for Revenue Canada so it could investigate charities that receive funding from abroad. It is commonly understood that this move is a way to silence critics of the Tar Sands and the planned Northern Gateway Pipeline to the BC coast.
With me on the phone from his home in British Columbia last April 6th was Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative and an opponent of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. The First Nations that comprise the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative “occupy the Northern and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii areas of B.C., from the Alaskan border in the north to Vancouver Island in the south.
I include it here again by way of a reminder that Idle No More is not just something out of the blue; that it is a movement whose time has come:
Sample track played on air: “Only Good for Conversation”:
From the website: “Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (also known as Rodriguez) is an American folk musician, born in Detroit, Michigan on July 10, 1942. He was named ‘Sixto’ because he was the sixth child in his family. Rodriguez’s parents were middle-class immigrants from Mexico, who left in the 1920s.”