Feb 04 2013
As members of Canada’s House of Commons returned to work last week in Ottawa, they found several hundred protesters waiting for them under a heavy snowfall on Parliament Hill. Many were dressed in traditional clothing of Canada’s First Nations. Their chants were punctuated by drumbeats.
Similar protests took place in Halifax, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Vancouver and other cities across Canada and in the United States. They were part of a “world day of action” organized under the banner of Idle No More – a native rights movement that has been heating up since October, when the Canadian government proposed a bill, known as C-45, that included provisions to undermine environmental protection and indigenous sovereignty.
C-45, which passed in December, changes the way that First Nations approve the surrendering or leasing of territory, making it easier to open indigenous treaty lands to development. The law also reduces the number of development projects that require environmental assessment and dramatically changes the nation’s Navigable Waters Protection Act – which, since 1882, has made it illegal to “block, alter or destroy any water deep enough to float a canoe without federal approval.” Now, only specifically enumerated bodies of water have that protection.
Opponents see a clear connection to Canada’s controversial tar sands industry, which requires the construction of new oil and gas pipelines directly through First Nations territories and across waterways in order to get its product to refineries. Native groups have been strong opponents of pipeline proposals, including the Northern Gateway – sometimes referred to as “Canada’s Keystone XL” – which would stretch more than 730 miles from Alberta to the shores of British Columbia, where oil would be pumped into tankers for export.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/idle-no-more-native-led-protest-movement-takes-on-canadian-government-20130204#ixzz2Jxjr2dqd
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