Jonathan Charlton, The StarPhoeinix, June 17, 2013– The Idle No More movement may have slipped off the front pages, but there is still support below the surface.
“I think we’re at a place where we’ve generated momentum, got people around the world excited, have people active in their own communities and on a global level,” said Alex Wilson, an education professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
Wilson, Sheelah McLean, Erica Lee and Sylvia McAdam, leaders of Idle No More, gave a seminar about the movement and their personal experiences at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) conference Saturday.
It was one of the best-attended talks of the week and they received a standing ovation. Other academics posed for pictures with them, bought Idle No More T-shirts and asked the women to sign them.
The movement is ambitious and wide in scope, but the women said it focuses on environmental, democratic and social justice issues.
“The end goal will be the day after there is no racism, the day after there’s no sexism, the day after there’s no homophobia, the day after there’s no systemic inequalities in society. It’s ongoing and ever changing,” Wilson said.
Idle No More has more events planned for what’s being called Sovereignty Summer.
“Really Sovereignty Summer is about encouraging people to do events in their own communities in their own way,” said Lee, a 23-year old youth representative, “because part of Idle No More is about encouraging people to break out of this idea of pan-Indianism, like we’re all the same monolithic tribe.”
But they also want to educate the Canadian public about aboriginal issues and improve relations between the two groups.
“For so long, we’ve only been told one side of Canadian history – so it’s not people’s fault for being ignorant of indigenous issues, because they’re not taught in school,” Lee said.
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