Idle No More @ Universities

by Stephen Petrina on January 11, 2013

University administrators in Canada are bracing as Idle No More energizes students, staff, and faculty members dissatisfied with business as usual. Protests have been fluid, with flashmobs and scaled demonstrations moving from streets to campuses and back. Massive demonstrations across the country were held today in solidarity with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, now one month into a hunger strike, and other First Nations chiefs.

Carleton and Ottawa universities for the past week have seen a series of round dance flashmobs, and activism from the People’s Council of representatives of the movement, Indigenous students and communities, and the wider student movement. On 8 January, the Indigenous and Canadian Studies Students’ Association (ICSSA) of the University of Ottawa raised the following five demands for decolonization of the campus:

  1. That Omaniwininimowin (the Algonquin language) and Kanien’keha (the Mohawk language) be taught every semester, and that this leads to the creation of a minor in both these languages.
  2. A substantial increase in scholarships for Indigenous students by the administration of the University of Ottawa, in recognition of the treaty rights of Indigenous nations to higher education.
  3. An Indigenous portal on the University of Ottawa website, including a statement recognizing that our campus is built on non-ceded Algonquin nation territory.
  4. A commitment to the recognition of the Algonquin nation in the physical landscape of our campus, for example through the naming of buildings.
  5. The immediate and substantial increase in the allocation of resources to the Aboriginal Studies program in the Faculty of Arts, leading to the creation of an Institute of Indigenous Studies and Decolonization.

The Idle No More student movement is holding steadfast: “Higher education is a treaty right guaranteed to Indigenous nations that has been consistently violated by Canada. It is time for students and Indigenous nations to stand together and be IDLE NO MORE.”  The emphasis is on a “commitment to the struggle for justice in both higher education and the wider Indigenous and settler societies.”

Read more: Idle No More Community and Idle No More website