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Peace Arch protesters call for action
Hundreds of protesters marched at the Peace Arch Saturday in support of the growing Idle No More movement.
The peaceful demonstration at the Douglas border crossing included supporters from both sides of the border and as far away as Vancouver Island. Many wore traditional aboriginal clothing, carried flags and played drums.
The Idle No More movement started in November in opposition to the omnibus federal bill C-45, introduced by the Harper government in October. The bill, which passed into law in December, implements changes to the Indian Act, the Navigation Protection Act and the Environment Assessment Act, and has been criticized by opponents due to lack of consultation with First Nations.
Marilyn Borgen, a South Surrey resident of Cree-Métis heritage, brought her aboriginal foster children to Saturday’s demonstration.
“It’s time to take a stand,” Borgen said. “The Harper government should smarten up. I don’t think they should take the rights away from the natives.”
The movement has gained momentum in recent weeks since Theresa Spence, chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, began a hunger strike in December, seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Harper announced last week he would meet this Friday with Spence and members of the Assembly of First Nations.
Speaking to the enthusiastic crowd at the Peace Arch demonstration – one of several protests to take place Saturday across Canada and the U.S. – Joan Phillip said she expects support for the movement continue to grow in the coming months.
“This is just the beginning,” the spouse of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said. “I honestly feel this is going to be a long, hot summer. We don’t want any more meetings, we want action.”
– with files from Boaz Joseph & Jeff Nagel