The ‘Idle No More’ movement’s global day of action on January 28th was met with solidarity and support across North America for the struggles of Canadian First Nations. Canada’s conservative government has enacted laws favoring the extraction of fossil fuels while dismissing the rights of First Nations. Widespread acts of solidarity with Idle No More show that the struggles of the First Nations have far reaching global implications for the value of human rights and environmental protections over risky fossil fuel projects.
In just a few years, Canada’s federal government has stripped away rights from First Nations in pursuit of expanding tar sands extraction – even though such development would be hazardous to the global climate. To accelerate fossil fuel drilling and its accompanying profits, First Nations’ Treaties and protections have been eroded away. Their consultation on infrastructure projects that impact their waterways has been drastically reduced, meaning risky projects that expose them to carcinogenic pollution can legally get the green light.
The Harper administration’s policy and budget changes have indicated the significant role of fossil fuel companies in dictating national priorities, at the cost of Canadian democracy. When the rights of First Nations, scientific research, or public outcry have gotten in the way of the pursuit of fossil fuel profits, the federal government has altered its policies to push these conflicts aside.
The solidarity actions with First Nations protests across North America show that current policies are out of line with the morals of the public, in Canada and abroad.
Idle No More is a Canadian grassroots movement founded by the indigenous First Nations. Founded in the fall of 2012, it was originally started in protest of the Harper government’s budget (Bill C-45), which changed environmental and land use regulations to the detriment of First Nations. Now, Idle No More also works more broadly to protect First Nations from state-sanctioned human rights abuses and to restore First Nations’ sovereignty according to their vision of self-governance.
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About the AuthorEmily is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland with a B.A. in psychology. While in school, she spent her time leading environmental and social justice campaigns. She recently worked for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as a grassroots organizer for a moratorium on natural gas fracking in Maryland.
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