December 24, 2012.
Hundreds round dance in mall to raise awareness of Bill C-45, which protesters fear endangers rivers and lakes
Protesters from Kahnawake along the Mercier Bridge Dec. 20, 2012 to protest against Bill C-45, the federal government’s changes to the Indian Act, and in support of the hunger strike by Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence. (Photograph by: John Mahoney , The Gazette)
MONTREAL — There aren’t many occasions when First Nations, Christmas, a hunger strike and a dancing flash mob converge at one common juncture — but it happened at Carrefour Angrignon in LaSalle on Monday.
Cashing in on the pre-Christmas rush, organizers of a flash mob in support of the Idle No More movement brought together several hundred people who round danced in the centre of the crowded mall to raise awareness about the federal omnibus budget law, Bill C-45, which detractors say affects treaty rights and removes protection from rivers and lakes.
Idle No More is a grassroots First Nations movement protesting against the law, with supporters of the movement across the country saying they are going to continue to ratchet up pressure on the Harper government. In Ottawa, Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence is entering her 14th day of a hunger strike for aboriginal sovereignty and has insisted she’ll starve herself to death if the prime minister doesn’t negotiate better living conditions for the country’s aboriginals.
Back at the mall, some Kahnawake residents who participated in the flash mob said they saw the event promoted on Facebook and thought it was important to participate.
“Our voices need to be heard,” said Kahawihson Horne. “We need support for our people and this was good timing — the mall was crowded and people loved it. Everyone was dancing along.”
Tiffany Mayo agreed the flash mob was a success.
“The prime minister is ignoring Theresa Spence so native people all over Canada and the U.S. are coming together over this,” she said as the flash mob was dispersing. “The government is taking away all of our rights and we are trying to make our cause more well known.”
Critics say Bill C-45, which received final Senate approval last week, will wreak environmental damage and dismantle provisions of the Indian Act pertaining to land sovereignty and other treaty rights.
On Dec. 3, the Tory government defeated an attempt by the NDP opposition to set aside provisions of the bill dealing with the protection of lakes and rivers.
The Kahnawake Mohawk Nation issued a statement Thursday endorsing the Idle No More protests as a concerted act of unity by First Nations people and saying it will refuse to recognize Bill C-45.
On Dec. 20, protesters from Kahnawake marched along the Mercier Bridge, which links Montreal with the South Shore, to protest against Bill C-45 and in support of Spence’s hunger strike.
*****Comment: For more information see an article in rabble.ca by Muna Mire entitled "Idle No More: Women rising to lead when it's needed most" (December 24)
Also see Naomi Klein's article in The Global Mail entitled "As Chief Spence starves, Canadians awaken from idleness and remember their roots" (December 24).