We are here to kill the bill C-45

Protestors gather in front of MP Keith Ashfield’s office last Friday. (Nathan Paton/AQ)

Ron Tremblay’s words echoed those of an entire movement.

“We are here to kill the Bill C-45.”

The rally co-ordinator addressed a crowd of more than 200 protesters who showed up to support the Idle No More movement on Friday, outside the office of Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Fredericton MP, Keith Ashfield.

Alma Brooks, elder from the Wabanaki tribe says Idle No More is working to bring attention to the issues and changes with Bill C-45.

“I think Idle No More has spoken, the people have risen. We have a right to exist in this world, we have a responsibility for being here and there is a reason why we are here. We are the keepers of the land, our spiritual beliefs that were given to us by our creator also come from the land. We are very deeply rooted.”

Idle No More is an ongoing movement of multiple political actions worldwide stemming from issues of the recent omnibus Bill C-45. The bill changes legislation contained in 64 acts or regulations, which makes changes to the Indian Act, Navigation Protection Act and the Environmental Assessment Act. Among the changes that are being objected under the bill, Idle No More claims amendments to the Navigation Protection Act will remove protection for 99.9 per cent of lakes and rivers across Canada.

The Idle No More movement has spawned numerous protests across Canada. Protesters have used Twitter and the hashtag #IdleNoMore to spread awareness about the protest and their movement which has trended on Twitter across Canada.

On Dec. 11 Theresa Spence, Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation, declared a hunger strike in protest to Bill C-45 and to bring public attention to First Nations issues. She said her hunger strike, which consists of being on a liquid diet of only lemon water, tea and fish broth (believed to be between 200 and 400 calories each day) will continue unless Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston meet with all First Nations leaders together in Ottawa.

While a majority of the protests have been peaceful, a Sir John A. Macdonald statue was vandalized overnight on Jan 10th in Kingston, Ontario with the phrases “murderer,” “colonizer,” and “this is stolen land” sprayed across the statue in red paint. The vandalism in Kingston happened before Idle No More protests took place, though the police said they have no evidence it is any way connected.

Elder Brooks said the bill is a violation of aboriginal rights.

“Our territory, Wabanaki, we sign peace and friendship treaties only. We have never surrendered an inch of our land. This is how we retain our sovereignty.”

Elder Brooks says First Nations people are struggling to keep going and the proposed changes will deter them.

“We breathe the same air, we drink the same water, we walk the same land, and our people are struggling right now to keep our existence.”

With files from Dylan Hackett.

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