Despite declining attention, the Idle No More movement is here to stay
March 3, 2013
It may seem (from the images & stories covered on corporate media) like it’s winding down, but the Idle No More movement isn’t going anywhere.
Theresa Spence’s liquid diet helped bring the fight for native rights to the forefront, but when her diet ended in January, media attention slowly began to die off. Supporters are fighting to keep the movement alive.
At a recent demonstration in Kahnawake, a smaller but committed crowd rallied to get their point across.
“In order for things to continue and in order for the problems of indigenous people to remain in the news, we have to remain active,” said Idle No More supporter Michelle Werner.
Attawapiskat Chief Spence consistently attracted media attention, both praise and criticism, but when it was over, many wondered what would happen to the movement.
“I think the movement’s carrying forward because it wasn’t about Theresa Spence and it wasn’t about leadership. It’s about grassroots, grassroots native people of Canada,” said Joe Delaronde, a member of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
A sentiment shared by Steve Bonspiel, the editor of Kahnawake’s community newspaper.
“It’s allowed people, the youth, people of all ages and all races and backgrounds to participate, so I think that’s where it really gains its strength. It’s not exclusionary,” said Bonspiel, the editor of The Eastern Door.
However, he feels the mainstream media spent too much time analyzing Spence’s hunger strike, creating a distraction from what Idle No More was actually about.
“It’s about native rights and it’s about our future, collectively as natives and non-natives, living together. It’s about the environment, it’s about land, it’s about water. It’s about things people should be concerned about.”
Marie-Pierre Bousquet, an anthropology professor at the University of Montreal described the movement as a “renewal of old requests.”
“It’s very important to remind people that native rights are in the constitution, so it’s not just people moaning in front of cameras or something. It’s really a question of laws and rights,” said Bosquet.
While the Idle No More movement may not have the same momentum it once did, supporters are convinced the fight is far from over.
“As these bills start rolling down the pipes and our communities start seeing how they’re affecting us, people are going to stand up again and realize the dangers that we’re actually in,” said supporter Jeremiah Johnson.