Mi’kmaq students stage #IdleNoMore rally at CBU

by Stephen Petrina on January 25, 2013

Chris Hayes, Cape Breton Post, January 25, 2013 — Dancing a round dance of friendship and speaking out against legislation by the federal Conservative government, Mi’kmaq students at Cape Breton University held a rally on Wednesday in support of the national grassroots Idle No More movement.

The students, who are in a Mi’kmaq governance class, wanted to raise awareness about legislation by the federal Conservative government they describe as a threat to their treaty rights and, in a wider sense, to all Canadians.

Class member Janine Christmas said the legislation is being pushed ahead without consultation with First Nations.

“These are things that not only affect our treaty rights and communities but also all Canadians,” she said.

Students wearing Idle No More T-shirts passed out information sheets to a crowd of CBU students and faculty at the rally about federal omnibus legislation called Bill C45, which was described as the bill causing greatest concern to First Nations across Canada.

A definition of aboriginal fishery in Bill C45 doesn’t recognize a moderate livelihood fishery and the bill drops protections that were in the Navigable Waters Protection Act for a list of federally protected lakes and rivers, reducing it in Nova Scotia, for instance, to just the Bras d’Or Lake, Great Bras d’Or and the LeHave River, the handout said.

The omnibus bill, which is about to be proclaimed by the Governor General, also changes how the federal government does environmental assessments in a way that could limit the role of First Nations people and alters the Indian Act when it comes to how bands may lease reserve lands to third parties. The new way of leasing land will be by “simple majority” voting.

The handout at the rally said there was no consultation on the changes to the Indian Act and chiefs feel the way they came about calls into question the honour of the Crown.

Christmas suggested a lower threshold could ease the way for the development of pipelines and power lines that are a threat to the environment and health.

First Nations have concerns about other federal legislation, she said.

The rally began with a smudging ceremony and honour song by the Stoney Bear Singers.

Read More: The First Perspective