Pictou Landing First Nation discusses national movement

John Brannen
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PICTOU LANDING FIRST NATION – From coast to coast, thousands of Canadians have been out on the street protesting changes to the way of life for the more than one million aboriginals across Canada.

The Conservative sponsored Bill C-45, a lengthy omnibus bill passed in the House of Commons, proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Indian Act to name a few.

At the Pictou Landing First Nation, residents are angered at what is happening, or not happening, in Ottawa. “[Bill C-45] just sprang up on us,” says James Paul, a resident of Pictou Landing Reserve. “We’re trying to raise awareness that this bill will affect everyone, not just aboriginals.”

These changes have sparked the ire of aboriginals and resulted in an international grassroots movement called Idle No More. The website invites, “all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water.”

Chief of Pictou Landing First Nation Andrea Paul says after a historic Crown-First Nations gathering in January 2012, things seemed to be moving in a positive direction. “I attended a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper,” she recalls. “He listened attentively to all of the chiefs’ concerns and needs, but now, we had no consultation and input on Bill C-45.”

“As chiefs, we’re now waking up First Nation peoples in Canada and encouraging them to be ‘Idle No More.’”

The movement has led Chief Tracy Spence of the troubled Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario to launch a hunger strike, demanding to see Harper. Spence has been on hunger strike since Dec. 11 on Victoria Island in Ottawa – a brisk walk from Parliament Hill.

Jennie Stevens has a simple message for the prime minister: “Harper, go see her.” Stevens has been living in Pictou Landing for 69 years. “We just want to be in control of our own land, our own destinies.”

Organizations: Pictou Landing First Nation Andrea Paul, House of Commons

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Pictou Landing Reserve Attawapiskat Northern Ontario Victoria Island Parliament Hill Pictou

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Recent comments

  • Lucy
    January 03, 2013 - 21:03

    Johnny, Ken, and Bob - the attitudes that you "gentlemen" portray is the reason why Native issues in our country need attention. The processes of colonization and attempted assimilation have left scars on aboriginal people. Natives must be empowered so that healing can continue. What is good one segment of Canadians is good for all.

  • Ken R
    December 29, 2012 - 15:25

    The only chamge to said Indian Act is the requirement to publically detail where the billions of dollars go that are given to First Nations instead of just give us the money and it's none of your business what we do with it attitude. How many times have we read that millions of dollars go missing here in Nova Scotia reserves and across the country and Attawapiska? The government has a right to know where taxpayers money goes. I'm quite sure Chief Tracy Spence is only a strike when the cameras are rolling. She refuses to meet with any of the ministers that have anything to do with First Nations, yet meets with Justin Trudeau? what does he have anything to do with anything other than trolling for votes? Weakining water and land protection couldn't be any further from the truth for anyone bothering to read about it. It's strange we never hear boo from the First Nations in the US demanding everything and holding things and people hostage, why? because they are very self sufficient and look after their own. There's a saying among First nation people, "The chief's driveway is always paved".

    • christoph
      January 03, 2013 - 22:44

      This thread amuses me to no end. This is typical eurotrash immigrant talk at its best. If Canadians demand to know where their tax dollars go, then thats your treaty right, but make sure its a two sided treaty, which ensures that land, water and air use also is consulted and divulged to First Nation peoples. I'll bet this hasn't been done in the last 500 years.....

  • Margaret Armstrong
    December 28, 2012 - 22:54

    I live on Vancouver Island which has a large population of First Nation people. Until Sept 2003 I lived in Ont. & was involved with a women's organization who advocated & supported women who, along with their children, had come from abusive relationships. We also supported aboriginal women from a local reserve. I came to know many of these women & my respect for them increased greatly. Consequently my knowledge of their culture increased & I made friends with a number of them. If the strength & the courage & the persistence they displayed in dealing with their issues is common among their leaders they will surely get the attention of our government. For too long now Aboriginal people have been ignored & put down. It is time for all of us to pay attention to their concerns & extend the hand of friendship to them. So I would say to the national chiefs do continue what you have started & persist until your concerns have been addressed

  • bob in ns
    December 28, 2012 - 22:28

    To all the first nation people in Canada I say "enough is enough." There is a saying that if you do not vote you have no right to complain,and in your case if you don't pay taxes you should have absolutely no say in this country. Over the years countless millions, if not billions were given to your cause and I suspect that the bulk of that money went into your leaders pockets. If you really want to move forward convince your leadership to settle once and for all and stop this continual whining. I work hard for my pay and I resent the fact that you end up with more of it than I do. I suggest that you head for England,France and Spain to name a few places to finance your lifestyle, because it was them who did this to you, not Canadians. Get a job.

  • Johnny smoke
    December 28, 2012 - 18:45

    Overlooked in this soap opera is the fact that reserve Indians are wards of the state, they are not independent persons. If they want to become independent they must leave the reserve, precious few do. It seems they want to have their cake and eat it too. We have all been made aware of some of the outrageous salaries paid to certain chiefs and councils. During this time many of the residents have to live in dilapidated shacks. They remind me of the Royalists in Great Britain who defend the opulent life style of the royals, while they eek out a miserable living. If I live to be a hundred i will never understand, so why even try?