“Idle No More” grassroots movement unites Tribal Nations

This movement was initiated to increase the voice of indigenous people in Canada and in the regions that border it.

In the month of December there came a clear call to all peoples across North America to band together to support indigenous sovereignty. This grassroots movement has been given the name “Idle No More” to communicate that indigenous people will not stand for attacks on indigenous rights, infringement on tribal sovereignty or the erosion of treaty rights. There is also a call for a recognized need to consult and/or increase consultation with Tribal Nations.

According to the Idle No More website, “[The movement] began with four ladies – Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean – who felt it was urgent to act on current and upcoming legislation that not only affects First Nations people, but the rest of Canada's citizens, lands and waters.” Their reaction came when the most recent amendments to the Navigable Water Protection Act, tabled on October 18, 2102 in Bill C-45, which further weaken navigational and environmental protection of Canada’s waterways. These amendments would change the statute’s name to the Navigation Protection Act (NPA), a change that reflects the government’s desire to completely separate navigation from the environmental component that enables it. In other words, the law will no longer protect navigable waters — it will only protect navigation. The Idle No More grassroots movement continues to be a peaceful way to demonstrate that Tribal Nations in Canada will continue their pursuit of tribal sovereignty and ability to protect their own land and water.

In Michigan and across the Great Lakes region, there have been several Idle No More flash mobs to demonstrate support for Great Lakes Tribal Nations which span across the borders of America and Canada.

Michigan State University Extension has educators with expertise on economics, fiscal management, parliamentary procedure, the open meetings act, public policy and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local government operations.

Please contact Emily Proctor, MSU Tribal Extension educator, with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or proctor8@anr.msu.edu.

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