Idle No More Movement Grows as Situation ‘Becoming More Volatile’

National Post (Ottawa), January 3, 2012

The Harper government said Wednesday it expected the “rule of law to be upheld” as aboriginal activists called for rail and border crossing blockades, the same day a First Nations chief on a hunger strike suggested relations with Ottawa were becoming more “volatile” and strained.

The language from both sides came as Chief Theresa Spence, who has subsisted on fish broth and water for three weeks, called for unity between native chiefs and the grassroots movement that has blossomed into Idle No More.

Spence’s spokespeople said Wednesday in a written statement that the situation “is becoming more volatile” with each passing day that Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t meet with Spence.

The statement added that chiefs who met in Ottawa last week plan to launch “countrywide economic disturbances” if Spence’s request for a face-to-face with Harper went unanswered.

Rail blockades have so far had little commercial effects, according to CN Rail, which owns much of the rail being targeted. A blockade near Seton Lake, B.C., north of Vancouver, ended over the weekend after demonstrators left a secondary rail line they had occupied for three days. A blockade in eastern Quebec has affected Via Rail passengers, who were also affected by a three-hour shutdown Sunday in eastern Ontario.

In Sarnia, Ont., a judge on Wednesday ordered demonstrators blocking rail traffic there to end their blockade.

“We urge an end to illegal blockades and expect the rule of law to be upheld,” Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall said Wednesday.

Demonstrations continue around the country and overseas under the Idle No More banner. On social media, some activists called for an escalation of action and blockades of border crossings on Saturday “to show the government that we are willing to escalate this to a point where we shut down the country.”

Idle No More has grown into a national movement that is now receiving international attention. The movement, which started as a series of teach-ins on a small Saskatchewan reserve, has faced growing pains as the founders of the movement distanced themselves Monday from native chiefs who claim to be acting on behalf of the campaign.

On New Year’s Day, a close aide to Spence sent a letter to the founders of Idle No More which quotes Spence as saying that chiefs “must humble themselves and be one with the brave grassroots citizens of our nations.

“(Spence’s) message is that the chiefs must and will redeem themselves despite an imperfect past; the time has come for the leaders of our nations to become one and the same as the people,” reads the letter from Angela Bercier.

“The chiefs have made mistakes in the past, but don’t shame them for these. They are, after all, our people. The chiefs are ready now to humble themselves for the people.”

The focus of Idle No More began with opposition to bill C-45, the government’s budget implementation bill, which makes changes to environmental laws as well as changes to the Indian Act. The changes to the Indian Act would allow aboriginal people to sell or lease their land to non-natives through a community vote.

Critics say those changes violate treaty rights, while the government argues the changes are designed to help the economy.

But since her hunger strike began on Dec. 11, Spence has become a public face for Idle No More. She has said she’ll starve herself to death if Harper doesn’t meet with her, but has also suggested that a meeting between the government and native chiefs to discuss treaty concerns would suffice.

Harper has so far not said if he will meet with Spence. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has offered to meet with Spence, but she has declined.

A spokesman for Duncan said Wednesday the minister will “continue trying to engage the Chief and other First Nations leaders.”

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  • This doesn’t read like anything a good ole fashioned casino won’t solve.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      Some years back in the Tampa Bay area local Indians discovered that the present site of a rather large strip mall had a history that was very sacred to the Indians, so they sued and won in federal court to get the land back for the tribe. The indigenous community was indignant, insulted, and hurt that sacred Indian land had been desecrated by the white man for construction of the strip mall, so they set matters right by bulldozing the mall and building a faux authentic Indian-style sacred smoke shop to sell tax-free cigarettes and cigars. There was great rejoicing throughout the land, except in the case of the African-American owners of some small jiffy stores in the area that had made the bulk of their income on cigarettes for which they had to pay taxes. Oh well, who was it who said that if you want to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs?

      • Oh well, who was it who said that if you want to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs?

        The ultimate progressive hopeychanger, Lenin.

        • StillModerated

          Wrong! It was that Dzhugashvili fellow — Joe Stalin.

        • MikeofAges

          Ever heard the phrase “knee jerk liberalism’? The “knee jerk” response in our era is to support anything that squeezes, replaces, irks, mocks or replaces whitey. Interesting, isn’t it, that blacks often end up being the most salient victims and the ones replaced?

      • The__Bobster

        The Abos play the same game in Oz. They were heading toward extinction 200 years ago, but the do-gooders had to save them, No good deed goes unpunished.

        • FourFooted_Messiah

          Didn’t they try to claim a big chunk of Perth some years ago, by trying to claim one of the shaman saw the Rainbow Serpent wind its way through the city’s streets?

          Nice try, though. Our own Indians on the BC coast used that to keep the government from moving a very friendly orca away from where boats and things go, for the good of the Orca itself. The Haida wanted to keep him around, so they claimed that the whale was their late chief, reincarnated. They got their way … and the poor Orca wound up, yep, getting too close to boat-motor blades, and getting killed. /sadface It was very clever, but I knew that whale would eventually buy it if it wasn’t moved, because people are pretty damn careless with motorboats (just ask any manatee!)

  • NYB

    If aboriginals actually cared about the land, they’d be opposing further colonization from the Third World.

    In practice, aboriginals are willing to turn a blind eye to growth, development, and prosperity which comes at the expense of the land, for a price.

    This is the latest attempt to jack up that price.

  • The__Bobster
    • StillModerated

      That does it! I’m going to buy a tepee for my next camping trip.

  • The__Bobster

    She has said she’ll starve herself to death if Harper doesn’t meet with
    her, but has also suggested that a meeting between the government and
    native chiefs to discuss treaty concerns would suffice.


    Ah, the wagon-burner equivalent of Dick Gregory.

    • Spartan24708

      If you’ve seen a picture you know it will take a long time for that to happen.

  • Morris Thecat

    Sounds like they are upset at losing a form of restrictive covenants. I’m not sure what side to take here.

  • The Final Solution

    Idle is exactly what these so-called ‘native Americans’ are. Drunk, lazy, and useless. Took a trip to Arizona and New Mexico recently – the roadsides are full of these poorly constructed stands selling jewelry and moccasins and other useless crap. A disgusting third-world landscape that feels like a different country. That is all these people have to offer. Jewelry and casinos. The first thing you see across the border into New Mexico is a sign about drunk driving, the favorite hobby of these “Idle No More” people.

    Watch Ice Road Truckers – a great show that documents the real backbone of North America. Hard working white men and women who are relentless in their work ethic. The occasional Native Americans make it onto the show, usually drunk and face down in the snow with their cars upside down. It’s an interesting juxtaposition and the show sort of unintentionally portrays the fundamental differences between us.

    • StillModerated

      I also like Ax Men, Dirty Jobs, and Deadliest Catch — all shows about working White folks. Salt of the Earth. Of course the adverts feature clever, hard-working bantus; pure science fiction!

      • The Final Solution

        Axmen is a fine show – my grandfathers were both loggers and my dad was a mill worker. Nothing like seeing whites doing the work lazy browns don’t want to do. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-white logger.

    • kjh64

      I have known American Indians who were hard working and such. I think those are of the lowest classes.

  • Blue Willow

    Chief Spence is a fraud and so is her hunger strike. She doesn’t even look native. Read about it here:

    • FourFooted_Messiah

      Well, if you notice there’s a lot of “Indian” men who need to shave.

      You know George Armstrong, the former hockey player? In the Hall of Fame in Toronto, he’s listed as a “Native”. No, he married a Native and got status under the rules at the time. He’s as white as I am – as he should be, seeing as how he’s my grandfather’s cousin.

      I remember the old folks in the family jokingly referring to him as “Grey Owl”.

      • SintiriNikos

        Wikipedia is your friend. His mom was Ojibway, and every picture I’ve seen of him, he looks pretty Indian to me (I don’t use the term native, as nobody fits that description)

        • FourFooted_Messiah

          Where the hell did that come from? I’m a relative, and he’s not an indian. His WIFE is ojibway, not his mom.

          Wiki is just repeating the popular fantasy.

          And if you think he looks like an Indian, well, you should see my grandpa. Maybe he looks Indian too to you. But he’s as Scot as Scot could be.

          • SintiriNikos

            I find it hard to believe that anybody would go through such lengths to make somebody Indian. He looks pretty Indian imo. Also, wasn’t his nickname ‘the Chief’? Anyway, if you’re related to him, far be it for me to argue.


          • Giuseppe Verdi

            So George Armstrong had brown skin only because he tanned well? How then do you explain his somewhat slanted eyes and his jet black Indian hair? It looks to me like you just don’t want to face the fact that you are related to people with some Indian blood. You know you’ve never seen a full-blooded Scotsman who looks like George Armstrong.

            Hey, don’t get me wrong. Lots of North American whites have some Indian blood. I don’t think that’s a problem. I just think we shouldn’t try to delude

            By the way, here’s another picture on a hockey card of George Armstrong:


          • CourtneyfromAlabama

            I don’t understand how this debate got started in the first place, and I went back and read it from the beginning. No matter what side anybody is on, I would say Armstrong looks as equally Indian as Spence does. Our country is full of whites both male and female who enjoy claiming themselves as Indian. It sickens me. When did it become fashionable to become one of the so called “victims”?

  • Michael_C_Scott

    Blocking road and rail crossings? For a minute there, before I started reading, I thought they were going to protest by getting drunk every day instead of going to work at their vitally-important jobs.

  • Canadian

    The idle no more joke is partly a response to a government
    threat to make indian chiefs divulge how much money they get.

    Idleness is exactly the Canadian abo method of operations.
    They have all the time in the world to block commuters, highways, rail lines,
    hold sit-ins and occupations.

    In these cases the Canadian police make sure the idle are well
    fed and protected from non-idle indignation.

    Canadian abos get free medical care, dental care, university
    or college tuition, affirmative action jobs if they want to work or very generous
    welfare if they don’t. So they’re idle. They don’t even have hobbies, except
    for bothering people.
    Canadian law (criminal or civil) doesn’t apply to them in the same measure it does to other people.

    • David Ashton

      Wait till the Chinese arrive in Korean-war numbers!

      • joesolargenius

        Are you kidding , they already refer to Vancouver as Van Kong or Hong couver.

  • Dude

    Canadian History 101:

    When the eskimos arrived in arctic Canada and Greenland (in a later migration from Siberia), they wiped out the previous Amerindian inhabitants completely. No White people in history has ever ethnically cleansed such a huge area so completely.

    And that’s why you must capitalize the ‘N’ when you call them Native. (:

  • tjspoker

    The Chief is a dam fraud and she knows it!! Hunger strike is just a guise to keep the government from looking at exactly where all the taxpayer money goes on these reserves. It seems the only one’s “livin large” are the chiefs. Go to any reserve and the biggest house with the newest vehicles is the Chiefs. Everybody else starves. Any attempt to question this is met with this type of behavior. Of course they have the time for this and the government will give in and get the checkbook out and the cycle will repeat itself in the not so distant future agian and again. Pathetic people.

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    But many bands have ASKED for such changes in the Act, including the ability to do with their land what they will – and they HAVE leased to “non-natives” before, check out the chemical plants in Sarnia – the band there were more than happy to take money from them … until they became aware of the pollution now surrounding them. I think they’re referring here to private individuals though, not companies.

    Hell, I remember Indians complaining that the Indian Act exists at all.

    As for the chiefs, well, most of them ARE quite corrupt, and many have ripped off their own bands and then fled the continent.

    So, they can have time to do all this blockading, every time a bone is dug up, or they decide they want more land back. Yet they can’t do anything about violence and inhalants and stuff on reserves like Hobema.

    Of course then, you have whites talking about how the Indians respect their “wild brothers”, then you go to a reserve and see starving, straying dogs. You have them being upset over government hunters going into a park to cull deer, only because they think they should be the ones to do it (and either way, they get the meat.) Then they get the right to hunt in said park, and wind up wiping out more deer than the cullers would have done.

    While I really have nothing against them personally, there is a reason they’re considered to be kind of stupid.

  • Observer

    I support the Eskimos. Whites must stop exploiting them.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      I agree, and I absolutely think Eskimos should refuse to work in the appalling conditions in Canada’s wheat mines and also avoid Bombardier’s infamous snowmobile plantations. It’s probably just as well that the dreaded DVD player weevils wiped out that crop, forcing imports from Asia, as the Eskimos certainly would have been harshly exploited in that sector as well. Be happy none of you will ever descend into the pit of a wheat mine, see the harvesting of ripe snowmobiles with nothing more than simple pruning hooks, or be forced to flee from enraged DVD player weevils!

      Eskimos need enormous welfare payments so they can live independent and proud and thereby recover the human dignity which has been cruelly robbed from them during their needless – and totally inhuman – intermittent exposure to sobriety. Our hearts are with them.