Native panel traces roots of Idle No More

Jan 21, 2013 | News

Idle No More supporters take to the streets of Victoria. COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Shazia Islam

Idle No More has temporarily turned into Idle? Know More! for a special panel presentation the evening of Jan. 22 at the Vancouver Public Library. The presentation, also known as a teach-in, will cover topics on Indigenous sovereignty and colonial rule in Canada.

The panel will feature speakers from various Native communities across the country including Arthur Manuel, chairperson of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade and member of the Secwepemc Nation in B.C.

Manuel told Humber News that Indigenous people have been systematically made poor by the Canadian government for generations.

“It has to do with the system of parliament and the system of the provincial legislatures because they’ve claimed one hundred per cent to make decisions regarding access and benefits to be derived from our Aboriginal treaty territories,” Manuel said.

Co-presenter, Glen Coulthard, assistant professor in First Nations studies and the department of political science at the University of British Columbia, and member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, told Humber News that he would address some of the misconceptions in the media about the movement.

“The first is the idea that Idle No More is unfocused and lacks direction,” Coulthard said. He countered the claim by saying that the movement has become even more focused overtime by addressing the root causes of Indigenous land struggles.

“One of the more unique aspects of the movement is that it has garnered a lot of support from non-Indigenous folks because they identify with the cause,” Coulthard said.

Harsha Walia, a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher, who is behind the event, is one of the “non-Indigenous folks” who can relate.

Walia told Humber News that her family lived under British colonial rule in India and faced similar struggles against the British encroaching on their lands.

Walia said that people of colour living in Canada should support the Idle No More movement because it is part of the global push against colonialism and imperialism.

“I think it’s very important for racialized people to not be complicit, and to be active allies and to take responsibility for being involved as allies in the struggle,” said Walia.

The teach-in will feature a live-stream so people across the country can tune in and learn from Manuel, Coulthard, and several other speakers.

“I think learning is really more important in some cases,” Manuel said. “It changes the attitude, makes people understand more, and that’s where a better Canada is going to come from.”