Canadian activists and protesters have held demonstrations in Ottawa, and several other cities to call for the protection of First Nations' rights. On Friday, First Nations people held peaceful gatherings as part of the Canada-wide ‘Idle No More’ movement in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Toronto, and Nova Scotia.
Protesting against the federal government's omnibus budget Bill C-45, First Nations leaders denounced the policies of the Canadian government vis-à-vis First Nations as oppressive.They argued that by offering major changes to the federal Indian Act, including changes to land management on reserves, the bill will cut the number of federally-protected waterways and put the lands they depend on at risk. “We’re not just speaking up for ourselves, we’re speaking up for the rest of Canada,” Nova Scotia aboriginal activist Shelley Young said at a panel discussion on Friday. “We know that our treaty rights protect the waters and waterways. We want to do something about it.” First Nations groups further contended that the government did not consult with them adequately about the law. The protests came after Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation in Northern Ontario, Theresa Spence went on hunger strike on December 11, demanding a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She intends to discuss the plight and destitution of the First Nation people living in the affluent North American country. MR/HN