Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students braved frigid temperatures to march from Queen’s Square to St. Thomas University in solidarity with the Idle No More movement last Thursday.
In James Dunn Hall, speeches were punctuated with drumming and singing as students and members of Aboriginal communities explained what the Idle No More movement was fighting against and why it’s important. Kateri Martin and Joseph Mazzotta organized the march.
“We, as indigenous people, we’re tied to the land and in the treaties it’s stated that we are to protect the land. What Harper wants to do is take all of that away from [us],” Martin said.
“So, this is actually the first time that we are actually standing up together from East coast to West coast; nation to nation and standing up for our rights and what we believe in.”
The movement was started to protest the creation of two omnibus bills C-45 and C-38. Both bills have portions that deal with the First Nations people and environment.
“I think that the main thing is our emphasis on [how] Bill C-45 and C-38 [will affect] the entire country. Not just on the native population or the student population and I think people should realize that the media has been portraying it as a Aboriginal movement. It should be known that it’s not limited to us and everybody needs to be aware of the pollution that’s going to happen to the rivers, lakes, land,” Mazzotta said.
Mazotta says the bills change treaties and the Indian Act in large ways.
“Not only is it about land, water, and resource pollution and long term resource sustainability, but also our rights.
I mean, this bill does contradict Section 5 of the Canadian Constitution and I think that should be recognized, and it violates the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous people.”
In the audience listening to the speakers were students, both who had marched with the protestors and who were waiting in between classes.
This makes sense, says one of the protestors, Corey Thomas.
“[St. Thomas has] always been supportive. Especially being a liberal arts university, where it forces people to think outside the norm. It’s the perfect cause to justify that because whenever people get involved in a movement like this, it shows a different perspective. It gives more of empathy than it would just sympathy.”
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