A movement for all
I’ve heard some criticism of the Idle No More movement recently, and it was rearticulated to me again last week. An individual that I respect said to me, “You know the problem with Idle No More is that it has no focus point; it’s a movement that is demanding a change in process, and that is much harder to accomplish.”
Now, obviously as a grassroots movement, the Idle No More movement is organic and always evolving. As more and more people from across Canada and the world are inspired to join the movement, their own focuses and demands are naturally brought into the movement. Sometimes, this obscures the point, and it doesn’t help when mainstream media does not do justice in covering the movement. So, yes, it’s a little bit confusing sometimes.
I attended one of the first Idle No More teach-ins back in November, and have made a point to attend as many of the events as I can. I will admit that even for myself, I had started to forget the core point of the movement. That’s why people have come to criticize the movement for having “no point”. But it’s not true. There is a point, and we need to make sure we keep this point clear in our minds and our hearts as we move forward. That point is Bill C-45.
Last week, I had the good fortune to speak with some of the founders of Idle No More at RPIRG’s Apathy into Action Social Justice Conference, and I was reminded once again of the core of the movement. When Idle No More began, it began with teach-ins. Women, Indigenous peoples, and even some non-Indigenous members of the community were teaching us about an omnibus bill that no one had heard of.
There are two main changes in this bill that these people focused on. The first was the changes to the Indian Act that redefined the obligation to consult and receive consent from Indigenous communities regarding “development” projects on their land. The other was that this bill abolished water protections that were outlined in the Navigable Waters Act, Canada’s first environmental legislation. This leaves our waterways vulnerable to fracking, industrial use, and chemical contamination.
So while this bill is especially detrimental to Indigenous communities in Canada, the issues at hand go beyond culture and race. We all need to stand together to let the government know that they can’t just sell off the land beneath our feet and the water we need to sustain our communities. This grassroots movement belongs to us all.
So for those who think this movement has no point, here is the point: to stop Bill C-45 from moving forward. And one more thing. The movement is not demanding a change in process; by coming together as we have been, in a spirit of love, education, and protection of the environment, we are inherently changing “the process” already. It is a process of decolonizing our minds and our bodies and healing our relationships with one another and with the Earth. This is the foundation of the movement. And from here we will not stop, because we cannot stop. We need land and water to survive, but we need strong and just communities to thrive.
Idle No More is not only an Indigenous revolution; it is a revolution of all peoples who walk this Earth.