Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo firmly backs the Idle No More movement.

Firmly Backing Idle No More, Atleo Says Indigenous Peoples' Moment Has Come

Gale Courey Toensing
12/23/12

 

As Idle No More protests rolled out across Canada on Friday December 21, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo promised that the growing movement of demonstrations and protests would continue until the federal government takes concrete, credible steps to honor the treaty rights and international human rights of the country’s estimated one million indigenous people.

“We will not stand down as this country seeks to attempt to develop $650 billion in natural resources,” Atleo told reporters in a conference call on Friday morning. “Our people are saying that we will stand up for the waters, for the air, for the medicines, for the animals, for the land and the plants; that despite legislative efforts that we have an inherited responsibility and in the case treaty, treaty is paramount over parliament, over laws that Canada might pass.”

He promised that aboriginals would “carry out coordinated legal challenges and responses, but we will also take this to the Canadian public as well as on the international level to the United Nations and the Organization of American States to see the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ recognition of our right to free prior and information consent and the implementation of Section 35 [of the Canadian Constitution, which protects aboriginal and treaty rights] are upheld as well as the commitments articulated at the Crown-First Nations Gathering last January.”

As Atleo spoke, Idle No More protesters gathered at the AFN’s Ottawa offices in preparation for an afternoon demonstration in front of the Parliament building. The movement began in early December and continued to grow when the Senate passed the omnibus budget legislation known as Bill C-45 by a vote of 50–27 in mid-month. The bill amends the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Labour Code, according to the Chiefs of Ontario. First Nations reacted immediately and strongly to the passage, citing the lack of consultation with First Nations during the creation of a bill that profoundly affects aboriginals' daily lives.

Meanwhile, on December 10 Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike to protest abhorrent reserve conditions, a strike that was still under way on Friday. Atleo said he had visited with Spence and that she was “in good spirits, but feeling weak. She has a tremendous amount of support. There are pipes being lifted and prayers being offered.”

He cited a recent report by Amnesty International, which says, “ ‘by every measure—respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life span, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrests and incarceration or access to government services such as health care, housing education, water and child protection—Indigenous Peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis.’ ”

It’s “implementation time” for all the treaty rights and promises from the federal government, including the right of consultation, Atleo said. “Drive-by consultations won’t do.”

On December 16 Atleo wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Davis Johnson urging their immediate attention to “the critical situation” facing First Nations. He urged the governor general and prime minister hold a meeting with the AFN leadership. There has been no response, Atleo said.

Atleo said the Idle No More movement has the potential to help unite Indigenous Peoples worldwide, feeding into the 250th anniversary next year of the Royal Proclamation regarding settlements and trade with the indigenous populations of Turtle Island, a U.N. world forum on indigenous issues scheduled for 2014, and other movements already under way.

Atleo foresees Idle No More being “part of a moment where Indigenous Peoples see that this is our time, that it’s the age of Indigenous Peoples,” and added, “We’re not only peoples with culture; we are also peoples with a deep knowledge about the lands and territories, and there’s a thirst to return to a greater sense of harmony and interconnectedness.” Given the many interpretations of the Mayan calendar, Atleo said, “perhaps this marks a moment in time when Indigenous Peoples are taking our rightful place.” 

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Outstanding.................... said it always seems to come to this, but you cannot help but admire those who refuse to give up.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Atleo foresees Idle No More being “part of a moment where Indigenous Peoples see that this is our time, that it’s the age of Indigenous Peoples,” and added, “We’re not only peoples with culture; we are also peoples with a deep knowledge about the lands and territories, and there’s a thirst to return to a greater sense of harmony and interconnectedness.” Given the many interpretations of the Mayan calendar, Atleo said, “perhaps this marks a moment in time when Indigenous Peoples are taking our rightful place.”

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Thank you, Chief Atleo and Chief Teresa Spence. Many of we non-natives also feel that our indigenous peoples hold the key to the survival of our species and all other species. We are prepared to listen to you.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Aho !!!! We are watching and supporting you in the States. We all, as Indigenous people, have found the one thing for us all to unify and stand our ground for. The peaceful protests will bring much more world attention to the situation then confrontation. The flash round dances are great and the peaceful marches are great. Maybe this is change inthe world that was prophycized by our ancient ones !!!! Sgi ale donvdagahv'i, (Thank you and until we meet again,) Mashu White Feather

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I - a non-native - support your endeavours fully. I believe your culture, traditions and spirituality holds the key to better relationships with everyone and everything, including our planet, which is suffering so greatly. Peace & love to you all.

cherokee1959's picture
cherokee1959
Submitted by cherokee1959 on
It's time for the GREEDY to listen and learn , they are destroying our EARTH and all will suffer for their selfish ways. They came , killed and took anything and everything they wanted and now they too are paying the price. I am of mixed blood and struggle with feelings of shame against blood in me that came from ones who took what was not theirs . They came with guns to hurt and kill the ones who were here to care for the earth , the ones who only took what was needed , never wasting , always respecting . I feel such pride for the blood in me that came from proud , caring ,strong people and I have been hoping and waiting for the day that they would rise up again to take control , to fix and to heal this earth .Idle no more has given me hope. PLEASE let it not be too late , PLEASE let it happen.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
As an ally in the Indigenous rights movement and a colonial descendent, I demand that Stephen Harper to step down from his duties as a fascist dictator.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Connecting this important information to your brothers and sisters in Glastonbury and around the uk. Sending you love and prayers from the heart centre of mother earth xxxx

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
.....finally yes, its a very admirable stand for indigenous peaople the inherent right to be who they truly are and to be vocal about it....Awsome!

zig zag's picture
zig zag
Submitted by zig zag on
Atleo and the top AFN'ers are among the last Natives to support Idle No More. Until the INM rallies began Atleo had very little to say in opposition to Bill C-45, and in fact has continued the legacy of collaboration with the Canadian government that most of his predecessors in the AFN have followed. Atleo and many Indian Act band council chiefs are exploiting the grassroots mobilization for their own agenda. The idea that Atleo is being presented as a "leader" or hardcore supporter of grassroots resistance is laughable.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I must say that is Well said. and yes we have to be heard Mother earth needs our attention and with that said we need to come together as ONE NATION to keep mother earth alive and healthy and beautiful for our future children and grandchildren may our great spirit guide us towards eternity of our nations and its people through Harmony and beauty.

Ging's picture
Ging
Submitted by Ging on
There is a real need for adequate eiutacdon for our First Nation youth as well as the living conditions on reserves. Education for the most part on this reserve will not result in a real eiutacdon . So far it has only been knowledge based and a certificate of completion. You may as well use it to start a fire, because this is not good enough to enter into continuing eiutacdon. Our Education Stakeholders Group removed our kids and have sent them off-reserve when we discovered this fact and that no marks had been submitted to Alberta Education, which means our kids had no transcripts. We have a group of over 30 children not attending Ta Otha Community School.Nakoda First Nation (Bighorn reserve) in west central Alberta also has inadequate housing for many of it's membership. I was visiting with one of the elders there last week. The sewer and water system is not working, in fact it is now almost 3 weeks since she asked the band for help with this problem. There is a 1 inch space between both the doors in the house where wind, snow, rain can come in. The home needs serious renovation, the stove only has 1 burner that works and no oven.She wants to care for her grandchildren, but they have to live somewhere else, and she is worried they are not being looked after appropriately.I don't know how these situations can truly be addressed. It seems to us that nobody wants to really deal with the underlying cause of these things.
15